History

Hardcore History's Dan Carlin on Why The End Is Always Near

The podcast superstar talks about how media gatekeepers have been mostly vanquished and his deep interest in liberty and freedom.

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Dan Carlin is the host of the popular podcast Hardcore History and author of the new book The End Is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses.

Hardcore History is notable not only for its immense audience (millions of people listen to it) but the length of its episodes. The most recent episode, part of a sequence about Imperial Japan in the 20th century, stretches over four hours.

The 54-year-old Carlin, who has been described as a "social libertarian" and always stresses that he is an amateur historian, talks with Nick Gillespie about what motivates him to go so deep on topics in a moment when we're constantly being told we all have short attention spans, whether he's optimistic or pessimistic about the present and especially the future, and why we haven't yet had a world-ending nuclear catastrophe.

Along the way, Carlin and Gillespie talk about how the media landscape has changed radically (and mostly for the better) over the past 30 years, the deep lesson we should all learn from the original Planet of the Apes movie, and whether, as Carlin puts it in his new book, "the idea of progress is not without bias."

Audio production by Ian Keyser and Regan Taylor.

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  1. I wish he’d do more than just military related history. I want to recommend him to people but his topics aren’t for everyone.

    1. Nobody cares

      1. Yeah, never heard of the guy. My guess is I probably know more about most of his subjects than he does anyway.

        1. He would probably agree, but he isn’t a history lecturer, and that’s not how the podcast is constructed.

        2. His podcasts are entertaining, and thought provoking. I personally am not a history buff, so can’t really vouch for his historical accuracy, but I haven’t found anything particularly off.

          I’d suggest trying out his series, Kings of Kings, if you have any interest in finding out if you know more than he (or more importantly, whether he has an interesting perspective, and worth the free listen).

      2. You cared enough to cry.

        1. Spunky is still salty because I pointed out some uncomfortable truths. It’ll pass but until it does, tantrums are his cri de cœur.

          1. Boy, I point out the obvious and objectively true statement that nobody cares what you wish for or want and you decide to whine at everyone else that responded to you? Get a grip, Sally Snowflake.

            1. How’s that continuing education because you can’t take proper care of your family going big guy?

              1. Wow, you get really mad when people use your own schtick against you. Weird.

              2. So you’ve decided to just keep whining? Whatever gets you off I guess.

    2. If the History Channel has taught us anything, it’s that history is all about the military. Especially Nazis.

      1. What we really need is a 12-part Ken Burns documentary of the Anglo-Zanzibar War

        The Anglo-Zanzibar War was a military conflict fought between the United Kingdom and the Zanzibar Sultanate on 27 August 1896. The conflict lasted between 38 and 45 minutes, marking it as the shortest recorded war in history.

        1. 11 of those would be investigating how long the war really lasted, who was/is hiding the truth, and why.

          1. No, that’s the Oliver Stone version. The Ken Burns version is the one that would be pretty decent if it was possible to stay awake for an entire episode.

            1. Dearest Mary,

              I know not whether our cause be just, but can only trust that my service to our beloved Queen will be be remembered with favor by our forebears. While the struggle may seem to endure without end, wait, um, looks like that dustup is about finished. See you next week. Love, Archibald

      2. Haha. I loved the History Channel before it became Pawn Stars/American Pickers Channel 24/7 365 days a fucking year. Who the fuck actually LIKES that shit? I’ll take Hitler and nazis anyday over that garbage. Besides I’m a WWII buff anyway so that don’t bother me.

        1. I enjoyed the nickname back then: The Hitler Channel

        2. But now you get “Hitler was an Ancient Alien.”

    3. Prophets of Doom.

  2. I’ve listened to every Dan Carlin podcast that was available for free, probably 30 or more of 2-3 hours each. Almost all of them are great. He has a way of finding interesting and gory tidbits and providing context to them in the larger story. The WW1 series, in particular, was outstanding.

    But I am no longer a Carlin fan. Earlier this year he got together with another history podcaster, Danielle Bolelli, who also has some great podcasts, to present a podcast discussing why fascism – Nazis – should be considered right wing. He dismissed the name National SOCIALIST as being a fake, like the Peoples’ Democratic Republics, etc. But, of course, if he had been honest he would have noted that Mussolini, inventor of fascism, had been a socialist and was merely modifying it to fit his needs, and the tenets of fascism are collectivist, i.e. leftist. Fascists were collectivists, or perhaps crony capitalists who had ‘chosen’ businesses the government favored, much like FDR’s NRA (National Recovery Administration), a clearly fascist bureau. On such a straightforward topic Carlin prostituted his ‘historical accuracy’ on the altar of political correctness, revealing his progressivism. Very sad, really.

    Carlin and Bolelli also took their podcasts behind paywalls, so f those guys.

    I am surprised Nick wasn’t aware enough to challenge Carlin. He missed an opportunity to out him as no libertarian.

    1. If you really think collectivism = “left wing” than you will misunderstand most of history. There are plenty of examples in history of conservatives who loved statist solutions. Hell, the current US President is a “conservative” who loves farm subsidies, eminent domain, protectionist tariffs and massive deficit spending. Is Trump a leftist?

      1. Trump is a Trumpist.

        But Hitler and Mussolini were all about state control of the economy top down. Yes, they allowed some favored businesses to retain private ownership, but if the Reichstag said to stop building cars and start building tanks, you said “how many” or you would find yourself out of business.

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