More and more Brits are tuning into podcasts. These web-based audio shows are similar to radio broadcasts, but available to download (usually for free usually) and enjoy at your own convenience.
Through podcasts you can access an ever-growing range of specialist content, whether your area of interest is gardening, classical music or current affairs.
For military history enthusiasts, podcasts offer a treasure trove of fascinating information on civilisation’s great conflicts, voiced by experts and often containing incredible insight from the folks who actually lived it.
Whether you’re interested in the World Wars, ancient conflicts, the great American battles or are looking for fascinating and provocative takes you won’t read in the history books, here are six shows to get you started:
1. The History of World War II Podcast
Join historian Ray Harris Jr. for this bi-weekly podcast charting the major battles, personalities and politics of WWII in deep and intimate detail. There are hudreds of episodes in the catalogue examining the mistakes and masterstrokes of the conflict. The podcast offers impartial looks at the perspectives of the participants and an excellently crafted narrative that makes it far more enthralling than your average history lesson. If you fall in love with it, there are also members’ only podcasts for around £3 a month.
2. Hardcore History
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History offers an enthralling, unorthodox and hugely knowledgeable perspective. The five-part Blueprint for Armageddon series (spanning some 17 hours) chronicles World War I and offers the history lessons you wish you’d had at school. For example, did you know British propaganda forces deployed ‘white feather girls’ to demean young men in order to boost enlistment? Well if you watched Downton Abbey you probably did, but they definitely left that out of the Year 9 history class! There aren't that many episodes; but fret not, some are as long as three to four hours in duration.
3. New Books In Military History
Have you ever been to a military history buff’s house? There are more books than your average branch of Waterstones. A lot of books means a lot of authors and this podcast features interviews with the scholars who’ve penned the latest titles. The audio quality can be a little patchy, but the content is a big help if you’re looking to add the most interesting new books to your shelf.
4. Ancient Warfare
While many ‘casts focus on 20th century conflicts, this series - based on the magazine of the same name - features discussions on ancient civilisations like Greece, Rome and the Celts. Believe it or not, those folks also had a great fondness for massacring each other. You’ll hear about the great campaigns of legendary leaders, the lives of ancient soldiers and mercenaries and the examination of artillery, weaponry, tactics, and communication methods. As the makers like to say, it’s warfare, minus 2,000 years.
5. Voices of the First World War
This 50-part series from the Imperial War Museum began in 2014 to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War. From the first shot to the Armistice, the collection beautifully curates archive recordings from those who actually experienced it - the soldiers and civilians of the time. Fascinating and moving in equal measure, the companion website www.1914.org offers photos, transcripts and more.
6. American Military History
The United States may not have been around that long, but has made up for lost time by packing in an unthinkable amount of conflict since 1776. The American Military History podcast from Justin Johnson charts everything from the Revolutionary War that kicked us Brits to the curb, through the Civil War and right up to modern conflicts in the Middle East. There are more than 40 episodes, most under 30 minutes, so they’re perfect for your daily commute.