Ex-talk-show host Dan Carlin isn’t shy about violating some basic tenets of dinner-party conversation. We may not agree with everything (or even most of the things) he says. But Carlin’s ideologically indie, intermittently crazy “Hardcore History” podcast reminds us of a time when America’s radio stations were less toxic, and a lot more interesting.
Carlin’s topics and reference points are are all over the place: He’ll use Star Trek episodes to explain the ancient Spartans, ask whether Alexander the Great was worse than Hitler, and tie history’s outrages in to the parenting practices that might have produced some of its monsters. Carlin has recorded 39 episodes to date, the last 15 of which are available as free downloads. His latest project, a yearlong, six-episode, 11-plus-hour history of the Roman Empire’s decline and fall, is awash in sex, slaves, and blood (not to mention conspiracy theories and assassinations). Which is to say it’s not “Fresh Air”—but it’s made our commute more interesting.
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