The best podcasts about history and the past

Autumn is here and it’s prime time for relaxing hours on the sofa – with series, movies and podcasts. MADS recommends the best date podcasts for couch nights and fall walks.


Autumn time is also a time of flow. As soon as it gets dark early in the evening, headphones and laptops are pulled out – then the endless search for the right content begins. To shorten your search, MADS recommends the best archives and past podcasts.

You’re dead to me makes history interesting

History isn’t just for geeks, as the BBC’s You Dead To Me podcast proves. It is hosted by Greg Jenner, a historian and comedian who meet on every episode. The conversation between the two sides is usually light and very entertaining, which makes the one-hour episodes ideal for casual listening. Sometimes he talks about the young Napoleon, again about Istanbul in the time of the Ottomans, and then again about the Egyptian pyramids. Even those who weren’t a fan of history in school will find what they’re looking for here. Episodes with Dr. are especially recommended. Corinne Throsby, On Vampires in Gothic Novels, Mary Wollstonecraft and Lord Byron.

Rich and informative

Podcast “ZEIT History – How Was It Again?” He has a different claim. Hosts Marcus Fleuhr and Judith Showalter jointly deal with topics that should not be missing from public knowledge. German chancellors, 20th century dictators, Greek antiquity – if you want to experience these topics again, you’ve come to the right place. The hour-long episodes provide in-depth information without becoming too boring. While the podcast is clearly less funny than You Dead To Me, it doesn’t claim to be comedic either.

“The Perverted Woman”: the woman who swims against the tide

With “deviant woman” the name says it all. Hosts Lauren and Alicia introduced A Woman from the Past, from History and Fiction, every two weeks from 2017 to 2020. The focus is on those who aren’t afraid to break the rules and challenge the status quo. Even if the podcast is no longer active today, there is plenty of listening material with nearly 100 episodes in existence – each about an hour long. The choice of the two is diverse and has well-known personalities such as Josephine Baker or Hatshepsut in the repertoire, but also, above all, women who have been forgotten in contemporary history or hardly receive any attention today. Poet and film director Forugh Farrochzād probably isn’t a well-known name, as is voodoo priestess Marie Laveau and pirate Ching Shih.

Josephine Baker: Dancer, singer and icon of the 1920s, best known in France as a resistance fighter. Photo: AP / dpa image file

Daily dose of history

If you prefer to learn more every day in less than ten minutes, you can listen to “History Daily”. A particular topic is dealt with in several short episodes throughout the week, in this way the listeners are gradually brought closer to it. Previous episodes ranged in content from prostitution to artificial intelligence to terrorism. Various aspects and various historical events of the context in question are briefly examined over the course of the week in question, so that in the long run one can easily expand general knowledge (and useless facts).

“Rubby History”: shocking and scandalous

Vulgar History is a feminist comedy podcast about famous women – similar to Deviant Women. In it, Anne Foster talks about women who didn’t fall into social conventions and, at the end of the episode, rated them using the “hardcore” scale, among other things. So it comes down to how shocking and scandalous women’s lives have been. Episodes last about an hour, giving Foster enough room to introduce each woman and tell her story. It’s hard to spot the highlights here amid all the interesting characters, but the episodes about Cleopatra and Elizabeth Woodville are especially commendable.


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