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Dan Carlin: Hardcore History (Blueprint for Armageddon)

I’ve been having the odd day where I spend A LOT of time travelling recently. I’ve gone up to Northampton to visit a friend twice in the past week which amounts to a six hour round trip. Because I’m a cheapskate I’ve been opting for the bus and, sadly, if I read on a bus I’m likely to be sick. As a result of this I’ve had to find alternative long-term media of entertainment for these journeys and ‘Blueprint for Armageddon’ has been one of my favourites.

I was put off by the length of the episodes (about three and a half hours) because I’m very conscious of my limitations and of the fact that I have a twenty first century attention span. However, once I was peer pressured into giving Blueprint a go, I have not looked back.

I’m a lapsed history student and I’ve studied World War One in some detail from a variety of perspectives. However, this podcast presented the information in a new, cohesive and enthralling way. Carlin employs quotes at every opportunity which gives his storytelling a sense of being real and of being necessary.

If someone hadn’t pointed out his slightly irritating verbal tick, I don’t even know if it’s a tick or just an accent, then I would probably have listened through the night.

Given the state of political chaos in which we are living, more so even than when the podcast was recorded in 2013, Blueprint can be used as an interesting lens through which to view the present. Carlin explores the rationale of leaders and of ordinary people in an attempt to grasp how the bloodiest war in human history came about. He challenges the pull of fatalism with regard to the war’s outset and helps the listener to understand, through his expert use of primary sources, how divided was opinion on the inevitability of war.

If you have any recommendations for where to start my listening for my next bout of non-reading, bus journeys please let me know.

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