Each of them has a distinctive style and focuses on very different themes. Duncan’s The History of Rome and Revolutions are exceptional. I highly recommend listening to the entire series of Revolutions to get a wonderful overview of how the Western world became what it is today.
Crowther focuses on the History of England, and given the fact that US political history derives from English political history, the podcast gives you great background for understanding the Anglo-American world.
Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History is an entirely different beast. It, too, is a history podcast, but there is nothing else to which it can be compared.
Most podcasts are relatively short-form, with 30-45-minute bites that build up a story over extended periods. A Carlin podcast, in contrast, is an immersive experience that can be 3 hours or more, and in the case of his World War I podcast, he weaves a story in 6 episodes covering 24 gripping and mind-blowing hours of content.
Carlin covers the whats, the whys, and the wherefores in such a compelling way that you want to binge it all as quickly as possible, and by the time you are done with the series, you have had so many aha! Moments that you can’t help but feel that every moment spent listening was worth it.
For instance, if you have ever wondered why generals kept on throwing troops into the meatgrinders during the First World War, you will get an answer–not a particularly satisfying answer, but an answer–from Carlin. And, not that Carlin set out to answer these questions of why the French collapsed in World War II or why Chamberlain appeased Hitler, you can more easily understand their thought processes after listening to Carlin’s Blueprint for Armageddon series on the First World War.
Carlin has a mix of free and paid podcasts–he releases his work for free but puts it behind a paywall eventually. Carlin can do that because you will want to own his work, which will be worth it.
Carlin’s work is extremely well-researched, and he will be telling the story from a uniquely Carlin perspective. There is nothing dry about his storytelling, and yet you will get an education that not only rivals but exceeds what you will get in any college course on a topic. I am not kidding when I say that–if your goal is to thoroughly understand a topic that Carlin covers, you would do much better listening to his podcast than taking a course on the subject.
That’s not to say that Carlin’s is the only perspective you should accept if you want to become an expert–you should never listen to only one voice in that case–but if you want to get a thorough grounding in a topic, then Carlin would be the first place I would go. He will keep you engaged from beginning to end.
Carlin’s series called Supernova of the East covers the expansion and eventual collapse of the Japanese Empire in the early to mid-20th century, and his series The Wrath of the Khans will give you a vivid picture of the Mongol Empire. King of Kings covers the rise of the Persian Empire and gives you a different view than the traditionally Greek-centered story we have learned.
As with my other favorite history podcasts, Carlin is not an academic historian but is widely read and an extraordinary storyteller.
If there is one and only one Carlin series I would insist on listening to again, it would be Blueprint for Armageddon, his series on World War I. It is not one of the free series, but it is the single-best exploration of World War I, of which I am aware. If you want to try out Carlin’s style before committing your hard-earned dollars, I recommend his Supernova in the East, on the rise and fall of the 20th-century Japanese empire.
Have at it. You won’t regret it.