My favorite podcast is Hardcore History. As a history minor, this is perhaps not surprising, but there's something about Dan's podcasting style that really elevates it as well. I love how he gets into the "what would it be like to have been there?" aspect of history, as well as how he really tries to give the listener the context of the times. The fact that the context can result in a biography of Cleopatra becoming a history of the decline of the Roman Republic? I'm not going to complain.
But for this post I wanted to focus on Dan's analogies. I think they're another reason Hardcore History really stands out. He can translate historical moments into more contemporary moments that today's audiences understand, and perhaps more importantly, convey the relative gravity of the situation - all while also injecting levity. How in Supernova in the East there's the analogy of the Japanese appetite for colonialism being like a sports star on steroids, far too invested to quit; and the analogy of Japan's attempts to conquer China and then more and more areas being like eating a stack of pancakes and every time they look away someone adds more pancakes to the stack. In Thor's Angels, there are the analogies of the Western Roman Empire's disappearance being like the Internet and the electric grid going out, with only the Papacy maintaining a weak generator; and the outlaw biker gang analogy - not to mention the 'barbarian chic' concept for relating the Roman fascination with barbarians. In EXTRA Thor's Angels, there's the analogy that inspired this blog post, that of Hardcore History being a cereal factory and finding out that some of their listeners like the standard Hardcore History, some like Chocolate-Covered Hardcore History, and yet others prefer Hardcore History with Crunchberries.
Back all of this up with Dan's extensive research, and you have a great recipe for an informative but also engaging podcast, of the type only an enthusiast can provide. I doubt a professional historian could write a paper on how Clovis was like an outlaw biker gang king, or how nations can become hooked on colonialism like sluggers can become hooked on steroids. But for making the content relatable, it works, and you know from the extensive bibliographies (and extensive research times between episodes) that Dan isn't just creating analogies out of the blue, but by some inspired genius seeing ways to effectively relate the concepts to listeners with memorable analogies.
One could argue that this is to some extent similar to the same pithy genius that results in memorable quotes in general. Just in the past week I've quoted both Eisenhower and Hammurabi in contexts where their sayings were appropriate. But Dan's analogies still stand how for just how apt they tend to be for the historical phenomenom in question, perhaps because they often cover larger historical circumstances rather than particular events. Either way, I love them and look forward to more of them in future episodes.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to have some more Hardcore History with Crunchberries.