The 11 Best History Podcasts

The Best History Podcasts 2023

The first podcast is considered by many to be Doug Kaye’s IT Conversations, which ran from 2003 to 2012. A year after the show’s inception, journalist Ben Hammersley wrote for The Guardian about this new phenomenon, ultimately giving the medium its name: “But what to call it? Audioblogging? Podcasting? GuerillaMedia?” We’re happy to say the publication you’re reading now isn’t called the Audioblogging Review.

That’s some podcast history, but alas… you’re here for history podcasts. And considering the genre is filled with quality shows, the question to ask is what makes a history podcast stand out? My answer is that every show on this list makes excellent editorial calls, regardless of topic or format. Some illuminate previously overshadowed periods of history, while others propose new ideas around our most infamous historical events. No matter its methodology, each of these history podcasts rewards listeners with rich insights into our past delivered at a pleasant pace.

The Rest is History

How many times a day do you think about the Roman Empire? For the hosts of The Rest is History, the number might be hard to quantify. And it doesn’t end there. Every empire in history is up for consideration on this British podcast, which is an archetype of the genre. It covers various events in history through a mini-series format, allowing hosts historians Tom Holland and Dominic Sandbrook to untangle the threads with care, analysis, and a touch of light-hearted commentary. The show has built a loyal following over the years through consistency. You have to admire these hosts for their productivity. Each forty-minute episode digests a vast amount of information, condensing it into knowledge that is entertaining and accessible. It’s little wonder that the show is the go-to history podcast for so many.


Revolutions hardly needs an explainer. It’s a podcast that dives into moments in history when an oppressed population overthrew their ruling class. For a show all about turmoil, uprisings, and disaffection, writer and host Mike Duncan delivers these complicated historical episodes with all the enthusiasm of your neighbor describing their new driveway paving. But it works. After ten seasons and over 100 episodes, Revolutions remains worth listening to because it isn’t brash or reductive. In fact, it might appeal precisely because it diverges from the reactionary pace of today’s news cycle. This show rewards fans with steady pacing, nuance, and attention to detail, appealing to anyone who enjoys Stephen West’s podcast Philosophize This!. Even if you don’t have a favorite philosopher, Revolutions might just leave you with a favorite political uprising.

Dan Snow’s History Hit

British historian Dan Snow has been making television and radio programs about history for over two decades. His latest project, Dan Snow’s History Hit, is a masterclass in making history accessible to the public. The podcast manages to be both topical and historical, which makes you wonder whether Snow is trying to have his cake and eat it too. But the format has proven successful, thanks to quick turnarounds and a backlog of pre-recorded episodes. How else would he put out a show about Queen Elizabeth II on the same day she died? Bravo, Dan.

Snow isn’t quite Lucy Worsley — but then, who is? — yet he remains a popular mainstay of the history broadcasting scene. Yes, there’s a scene. History Hit has endured in this competitive market since 2015 because it is both well-researched and digestible. With episodes erring on the shorter side, around 20 minutes, the show is ideal for a coffee break or while cooking dinner. Just make sure you avoid all the episodes on plague while you carve the chicken.


When Blowback releases a new season, we clear our playlist and listen. If you’ve heard previous seasons of the show, our reasons should be obvious. But we’ll explain anyway. Blowback covers contemporary political history, describing itself as “a podcast about the American Empire”. The latest season of the show is about Afghanistan, namely America’s involvement in the country both before and after 9/11. Even from a distance, hearing the sounds of those attacks in the first episode of season four remains a chilling experience. Blowback evokes similar feelings to watching The West Wing and All The President’s Men. Entertaining, absorbing — yet unnerving.

Whether you consider it a war, invasion, or intervention, the consequences of Western activity in Afghanistan were never more apparent than during the evacuation of Kabul by foreign citizens in 2021. This might be where many of us consider the story to end. But Blowback doesn’t look at this event in isolation. Context is key, especially in geopolitics — and Blowback has applied this lens to each of their subjects, from the Korean War to Iraq. We consider this show unmissable.

You Must Remember This

Named one of our favorite podcasts of 2018, You Must Remember This takes listeners through the debauchery, scandal, and forgotten stories of Old Hollywood. For more than 200 episodes, host Karina Longworth has illuminated details of Hollywood lore that, invariably, are not exactly how we remember them.

Films like Babylon and Hail, Caesar! have made it clear that Hollywood is just as interested in its myths and scandals as we are. As an author, as well as a film critic, Longworth knowledge lends You Must Remember This even more weight. In his recent round-up of the best film podcasts, Matt Seaton described the show as a series of “podcast-essays” that “unfold like stories.” The result? A meticulously researched dive into Hollywood legends of the sort that endure with each passing generation.

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In Our Time

Forget King Charles. Melvyn Bragg is the true patriarch of the British nation. Don’t believe me? Bragg has been at the helm of In Our Time since 1998, with over 900 episodes to date. Let the record show that Charles III has been in his post for a fraction of that time, with much less deference given to him. In Our Time is a British radio show and podcast presented by Bragg and recorded live for BBC Radio 4. It’s an academic roundtable that explores rich and diverse topics, from the Knights Templar to the Dead Sea Scrolls; think of a niche topic and they’ve likely covered it.

If we can’t convince you of the delights of listening to three academics arguing about the real meaning of a palimpsest dating back to 1543, then perhaps our claim that this podcast could comfortably get you through an undergraduate degree might persuade you. Long live the reign of Bragg.


What would a list of educational podcasts be without a show from NPR? Enter Throughline. Put simply, this is a history podcast about often marginalized and frequently debated events in history, casting a critical lens on topics from the prosaic to the provocative.

When Podcast Review spoke with the hosts of Throughline, Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei, we learned that the show has been accused of being both too political and apolitical. But they take this as a compliment. “If we’re getting it from both sides, I think we did a good job.” Looking back, it’s easy to see why this podcast has been successful. Whether discussing monopoly or the modern white power movement, Abdelfatah and Arablouei never swerve.

Mission History

Since QCODE began expanding its portfolio beyond star-studded fiction podcasts, they’ve produced some gems in the non-fiction category. Mission History is only in its first season, but it has already become a mainstay of our rotation. Focusing on military history, the show has flavors of Ken Burns in both tone and attention to detail. Mission History examines one conflict in history at a time, promising future seasons on the Trojan War and Viking Raids. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. The show launched with a polished analysis of the American Revolutionary War that accounts for both sides of the divide. In an over-saturated genre, it can be tricky for a new history podcast to get noticed. But Mission History has a vision for its content, one that it has elegantly delivered.


We called 1619 one of the best podcasts of 2019. Returning to the show a few years later, it’s hard to miss all the reasons why it had such an impact. The title refers to August 20, 1619, the day a ship carrying enslaved Africans landed on the shores of Virginia. Over 400 years later, The New York Times’s 1619 Project offers an ambitious examination of slavery in the United States. This podcast’s first episode begins with host Nikole Hannah-Jones standing in New England, looking back across the Atlantic towards Africa. 1619 is an intimately narrated and rigorously researched telling of a history that, even now, is glossed over.

Noble Blood

Author Dana Schwartz is known for her historical romance novels set in Edinburgh, Scotland. Given her interest in the past, it’s not surprising she also hosts a history podcast called Noble Blood. The show is a weekly affair that delves into the lives of compelling royals both famous and obscure. In these stories, the stakes are high. Mistakes often mean death or war — and Schwartz does an excellent job of dissecting these tales. And while the analysis can be simplistic, the show will appeal to those who seek storytelling, rather than rigorous academia. Every infamous royal is given new life through Schwartz’s clear talent at spinning a good yarn. Could we lose the background music? Absolutely. But overall, Noble Blood has a promising format that will appeal to younger listeners.

Hardcore History

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is probably the most infamous history podcast on this list. It’s certainly the most acquired taste. That hasn’t stopped it from gaining a cult following for its richly layered storytelling and the striking artwork that accompanies it.

True to its name, Hardcore History is not for dabblers. Each episode stretches for hours — we’re talking the best part of five — and Carlin uses that time to paint an intriguing, highly contextualized portrait of some of the darker periods of world history. Though Carlin insists he is a “fan of history, not a historian,” he takes complicated events and makes them feel real through clever discussion, often flipping ideas on their head and asking listeners to examine concepts from multiple angles. Though Carlin’s deference for historical nuance often sacrifices sensitivity around language, the show remains a staple of the genre.


Alice Florence Orr is a staff writer and assistant editor for Podcast Review. She is based in Edinburgh. You can connect with her on Twitter or read her work on