Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Roman Nightmares - Dan Carlin Hardcore History

It is called Punic Nightmares, the trilogy Dan Carlin produced in his podcast Hardcore History , and deep into the third episode , the Romans are still suffering a nightmare, brought upon them by the Carthaginian genius Hannibal. And Carthage is an important Punic power in the Western Mediterranean. In the east they rule in the coastal city of Tyre. Mostly they are better known as the Phoenicians. And they could have become the major power in the Classical world, if not for the Romans. (feed)

And so, the Punic Nightmare of the Romans, experiences a turn of tables and become a Roman Nightmare for the Phoenicians of Carthage. The way Dan Carlin tells this story goes way beyond the realms of history podcast. He apologetically proclaims: "I am not a historian, I am a fan." This serves as an excuse to go on a What If tangent, but that tangent and that kind of thinking is no the most profound quality of Hardcore History. It is part of Dan Carlin's method of telling the story. Carlin brings home the drama of the facts, the intensity of the experience, the experience itself, as far as possible.

Hannibal, in spite of all his successes, has to fight it alone and eventually is worn out by the nearly defeated Romans. He barely makes it back to Carthage, but can no longer lead. The Roman hero of this turn of events, Scipio Africanus, also eventually is slid out through the back door. And while these heroes die their ignominious death, Carthage, at long last is cruelly and ruthlessly destroyed by the Romans. The Romans will come to rule the Mediterranean and leave their footprint on our world.

It has always been the great quality of Hardcore History, but in these 23 shows, Carlin has gotten a firm grip on how to do it. He knows better than ever to balance the facts with the analysis, the drama with the sources, his excitement with standing historiography. I would say, by now, Dan Carlin has developed his way of relating to history into an art form.

More Dan Carlin:
Punic Nightmares II ,
Punic Nightmares I,
Under the Influence,
Apaches,
and Dan Carlin praises Anne is a Man!

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