I’d like to pick up on some comments about the Revolutions podcast.
One of the things that I had reiterated to me while studying undergrad history was to never approach a topic chronologically in an essay. While often the most intuitive way to approach a topic, it is an approach which has its downsides – it can get muddy when discussing complex issues, obfuscate important events through mixing your lead-ups, and prize the immediate over the long-term.
I think Revolutions is, in some ways, the best it can be in being what it is. It doesn’t stick to a strictly chronological approach and Duncan breaks things down to a fairly digestible fashion without cutting all of the important and interesting parts.
On the other hand, it is the deep end of the pool as fair as introductions go. I think there’s some potential for improvement (why not give a brief recap/highlight events before we get started so we know which names/events are important?), I think Duncan is trying to lay out, as Zacny outlines, the circumstantial nature in which events take place. The Bastille need not have been stormed. I think it’s a tradeoff made which often doesn’t work out in the show’s favour, but some of that comes out of how limited I think a chronological approach can be in history.
I think conversational-style history podcasts (especially without tight editing) are thorny matters, particularly when discussing a sensitive topic. A command of the details and an editor’s instinct are important in history – it is incumbent upon an educator to avoid error, especially when teaching others.
In terms of other topics raised on the podcast, Hardcore History is quite good, although Dan Carlin’s style can be offputting for some. It is very talk show radio and there’s a degree to which Carlin is (even moreso than Duncan) aiming to tell a story rather than present a neutral case. With that said, I think Riendeau is particularly thinking about the episode on the Spanish-American War based on the description, and I think Carlin plays up his love of Teddy Roosevelt for the sake of his meta-narrative or reason for focusing on him.
(Carlin also sticks very closely to his sources – I remember reading some of the books he has cited for the Spanish-American War episode and getting severe deja vu!)