Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Bulgarian History Podcast

It is quite exceptional what brought me to the Bulgarian History Podcast (site, feed). Usually I am getting a recommendation or I hit a subject that I would love to know more about and discover the podcast that covers it. With this podcast, the country and the people made it happen.

Last year's Passover vacation I spent in Bulgaria and although the rental car broke down twice, winter hit in mid-April for which we had no clothes on us and we got booked in a hotel in Bansko that we hated so much we left it as soon as we arrived, I had the best time I hadn't had in a vacation of this kind ever. I fell in love with the landscape, the people and the history. This history was revealed to us by a student who spoke excellent English and gave us a free tour of Sofia on the first day of our stay. I decided that as soon as I got back home, I'd go look for a podcast on Bulgarian history, not knowing that the best was still to come.

The Bulgarian History podcast is an excellent podcast by Eric Halsey, an American who has been living in and around Bulgaria for quite some time and has been studying its history even longer. He combines his his great rendering of the history with a very professionally produced podcast. I have been recommending this podcast to my friends and as a sign of how good this podcast is, they all got hooked.

We learn from the earliest Bulgarian history mostly from Byzantine sources and so in any case you are getting some of the more well-known Byzantine history, but with a refreshing new angle. That is not all however; despite its rugged terrain, Bulgaria forms a crossroads where several mighty neighbors meet. It begins with the Thracians, Proto-Bulgarians and Slavs, which deliver the mix from which the population stems and it continues with the Bulgarian nation performing their balancing act between Romans, Byzantines, Hungarians, Serbs, Macedonians, Franks even and later on Turks, Russians, Germans and on and on. This just has to make for fascinating history and Eric Halsey makes it all happen. And for me personally, with every episode I hear, I get to be reminded again of Sofia, Koprivshtitsa and the journey to Rilski Manastir (and more).