Launched in 2013, the Revolutions podcast tells the story of the modern world's great political uprisings, picking apart their causes, examining their courses, and analyzing the mark each one has made on contemporary times. Podcaster Mike Duncan—who first came onto the scene with his blockbuster series The History of Rome—does a superb job at condensing sweeping historical causes, deeply human motivations, and the general political chaos of these revolutions into concise, detailed, occasionally hilarious weekly episodes.
The show's seventh season keeps this tradition alive as it chronologically breaks down the sprawling and complicated European revolutions of 1848. Rather than treat mid-19th century Europe as homogenous blocks of "workers," "capitalists," and "conservatives" clashing over injustice, Duncan dives into the rich social and political fabric of the time, explaining the varied (and often conflicting) interests of rural peasants, urban laborers, middle-class professionals, and rising industrialists. The result is a clear-eyed take on the individual self-interest motivating members of those groups, and an exploration of how that self-interest led some to resist reform while others manned the barricades.
Revolutions' season on 1848 also offers pertinent lessons for today's turbulent political times, reminding defenders of the status quo that nothing lasts forever while cautioning advocates of radical change about the always messy, often bloody course that change can take. For their part, libertarians can wax nostalgic over a revolution where people took to the streets demanding lower taxes and freer trade.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Revolutions".