Sunday, August 28, 2011

Refocused on blogging? Maybe...

While Blogger itself may not seem to be the virtual equivalent of Michael Coreleone, it does have a way of "pull[ing] me back in".

Yep, I'm back.

Well, sort of.

Meh. Truth be known, I'm not exactly sure yet what I want to do with this blog but I do miss being able to comment upon and bring good books, shows and podcasts to other people's attention. I suspect that there will slowly be many changes to it over time and more posts, however sporadic, with less emphasis on politics but instead on other interests of mine.

If you've ever seen the list of my favorite podcasts below you'll have noticed that one I particularly enjoy is Michael Duncan's excellent The History of Rome. Duncan's superb narration and fascinating romp through ancient Roman history in nearly 150 episodes now, has given the world a veritable I, Claudius-esque feast for your ears, though sadly sans the great Derek Jacobi of the TV series. What Duncan may lack in not being chrysostomos ("golden mouthed") a la Jacobi is more than made up for by an enjoyable style of his own combined with a far greater devotion to historical accuracy than the 1970s Brit soap opera.

I had thought that Duncan was the only worthy podcast on ancient Rome out there, until I recently discovered Rob Cain's Ancient Rome Refocused. While I've only listened to the first episode thus far, it appears in some ways to be a mash-up of Duncan's with another favorite of mine: Bruce Carlson's My History Can Beat Up Your Politics. By this I mean that Cain, in the first episode at least, talks about the Western fascination with ancient Rome and draws some comparisons between their history and that of modern times. I must say that the 9/11 recordings from NYC emergency personnel were chilling to hear again, especially so close to the 10th anniversary of that day, but linking this to what the destruction of Pompeii must have been like to the ancient Roman psyche was brilliant. This also means to me that Charles Pellegrino's book Ghosts of Vesuvius, undoubtedly one of the main inspirations behind Cain's first podcast, merits careful attention in its own right. All in all, a very commendable start to what I'm sure will be a podcast that I'll enjoy just as much as I do Duncan's.

Give them both a try if you haven't already, because if you love history as much as I do you won't be disappointed.

One more thing: I didn't mention above the ended podcast of Lars Brownsworth, 12 Byzantine Rulers: The History of the Byzantine Empire, which was so successful that a good book on the subject was spun out of it. Since modern historians like to separate the history of the Eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire post-476 from that of ancient Rome prior to the fall of the West, I figured as an amateur myself I'd bow to the conventional wisdom. Yet wherever one may fall in that particular debate, I do highly recommend Brownsworth's podcast and book!