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May 09, 2010


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Yes! Nothing better than a new THOR to brighten an otherwise dreary day.

Also, Mike, I was wondering if you skied?


Holy crap, that was a gripping episode!

Mike, you have a great gift in storytelling.


Curses and damnations, so close, yet just cruelly so far. another month and he might have wrap the whole thing up and be done with it. The cruel twists of irony are part of what makes history so much fun to read.

Ross Cohen

How can you recommend Zinn's trash? It's been a long time since I read something that was so blatantly a merest piece of propaganda. That so many 'educated' people seem to think it a clear and revealing explication of US history is a terrifying admission of real ignorance of the US' past.

Joshua Sherwin

Hi Mike,

Would you happen to have a list of your sources? I was trying to turn someone on to your podcast and they were suspect because you don't have a PhD after your name.

I love the podcast! Keep it up!


finally the True story of Gladiator is about to come out lol keep up the great work

Luise (Tasmania,Australia)

Hi Mike!
Look after that voice of yours! Another fascinating episode, thankyou! I have purchased Lars Brownworth's book as you suggested and am yet to start it as I am at present reading Norman Davies' "Europe, A History". Its a rather thick tome so it will take me a while and I'm enjoying the well ordered way it is set out. I find the majority of my purchases as second hand/pre-loved books from a site on the internet. I'm not sure if I'm allowed to mention the site on this page but they have never disappointed me. If anyone wants to know, I'm happy to say as long as the administrator doesn't mind. With winter fast approaching in Tasmania, I need a stash of books to get me through!

Matthew Cohen

I was intrigued by your reference to "the roman genius." Such an appellation suggests extensive documentation. Could you recommend further reading on this subject?

(I thought "A people's history" was great. I never want to start a riot as much as just after i get done reading Zinn)


"(I thought "A people's history" was great. I never want to start a riot as much as just after i get done reading Zinn) "

Mattew, that is the sign of effective propaganda.

Lance Darnell

You are my hero for recommending A People's History. Well done.

Trey Harris

Yes to A People's History. It is not 'merest propaganda'.

Trey Harris

As far as people who think you can't know anything unless you have PhD after your name...I got no use for em.

Ryan Reyes

peoples history = steaming pile
Still a great podcast.

Eric W.

Wow, Zinn. Very disappointed. I've listened to ever episode, and I really wish I had managed to skip that one somehow. Zinn is ahistorical rank trash. I really lost a lot of affinity toward the podcast after that. I hope that as a student of history you shake the influence of that sort of propaganda as time goes by.


I haven't read "A People's History of the United States" - could some of you tell me what specific merits and demerits it has?

The History of Rome

@ Anonymous

The demerits include highly selective use of citations and statistics, clearly biased argument construction and an occasionally laughable amount of "good" labor vs "evil" imperial capitalists commentary.

The merits include the fact that everyone ought to read the book at least once.

Eric W.

I don't see why any student of history should waste his time with something that displays no fidelity to, you know, actual history. Further, Zinn's claptrap is not a shot against the establishment. It's 2010, the late Zinn and his ilk are the establishment. their point of view owns the academy and the elite media. If you want to whistle your professors' / NPR's tune, read Zinn, but don't act like you are being edgy somehow. You want to be "edgy" and show independent thought: read something conservative in a faculty lounge sometime.

Scott M.

Dear Mike,

First, I rarely come to your website; the only post I made in the past was to thank you for your wonderful podcast, soon after I discovered it.

But I just had to come on your 'site to thank you for the Zinn love.

Thank you.

And sorry you have to put up with the conservative whiners, who whine about Zinn because, well, he's a leftist, and they really hate it when people aren't following their script. And, I suppose, because they are just plain whiners.

As to the merits of their conservative whinings, as someone once said, they are "so blatantly a merest piece of propaganda".

Keep up the good work.


Hey Mike,

Long time listener - I have been passing your podcast around to colleagues and friends for a while now - first time commenting. I have taken my interest in Roman history to new levels from listening to your podcast.

For instance - I am planning on making Roman Legionary Standards this summer.

Also, I am writing my dissertation on Roman Architecture as an extension of Roman Rhetoric (visual rhetoric) to communicate their values and ideas. My PhD is going to be in Rhetoric, but my BA was in History and I have a strong love of art. I have been to Rome and Pompey, awesome places, definitely plan to go back. If you don't mind passing around my dissertation concept, I am looking for ideas and directions to look for sources.



Is the recommendation this week in line with the zombie movie recommended during the 100th episode? Is this just Mike having fun?

I don't know this work (I'm not from the US) but reading the commentary it has provoked here, it all sounds like someone is sh*t stirring.


Great episode. Just the pronunciation of the city of Aquileia was a bit off, no offense :)

a - like in asteroid
qui -like in quiver
leia - like the Star Wars princess


Are we commenting on the Podcast or on Zinn?
Long time listener first time Poster.

Zinn is fine, its an alternative to a traditional history of the United States. The one thing I find amusing is while people give it scathing remarks, they never talk about any specific issues..only that it is trash or worse..never a specific passage they have an issue with. It's not my bible but it is in my library.

Fantastic podcast, thank you for doing it.

Ross Cohen

Zinn's work is trash because it's profoundly dishonest. Anyone can cobble together a 'history' of a nation or race that makes it look relentlessly villainous merely by sticking to the 'right' facts. And if you have 300 years to work with you can drone on for thousands of pages in the same vein. If you do something like this about the Jews, you will rightly be called a vicious anti-Semite, but if you do it about the USA, you are telling a strangely compelling 'alternative history'. Blech.

Great podcast, otherwise.

Mark Mullen

You're still doing an excellent job Mike. As a side note I think Mike proves the point that intelligent people don't need to have a PHD. I don't know if he has any letters after his name but I get only find them annoying myself.

I haven't read The people's History but it's my to do list. I'm slightly put off by those who say it's dishonest etc but my opinion of the US, being form the UK, is that it's the world's greatest social experiment that ultimately has an unhappy ending. Ok I'm keeping it very simple. But there is everything to love and hate about humanity right there in the pages of everyone's history. Including Rome's.


Hi Mike. I just want to say thanks too. Have been listening for a while but sadly have caught up after getting though all the earlier episodes and now have to wait a week at a time for the next hit. All your previous announcements of delays or taking time off were easy when getting though the the pile of casts of the pod but now I am having to suffer the realities of real time.
Keep up the great work and thanks again

Shelby Taylor

Mike, I love your podcast man, but Zinn is trash. I'm no imperialist, capitalist, swine, but come on, even when I received a peoples history as a gift when i was fifteen(from my Reed College alum cousin who is near and dear to my heart o matter her politics) I was like seriously, this is populism? Other than that though, you have come far from those early epis' and I can't wait to see what comes next.

Shelby Taylor

Dude, Matthew, Peoples History is in my library too, but so is the Poky Little Puppy. Sure everyone can't help but put their slant on things, but its not an accurate dichotomy of American history. It's commentary, which is fine, as long as it's portrayed as such. Still, I would not say the man is innacurate in his portrayal of basic inhumanity which is a facet of human existence, not the hallmark of one society. The Great Experiment here is falling apart thanks to the hatred of Law and the love of Goverment, so who knows maybe we just took the Roman model and turned the dial to 11.

Luise (Tasmania,Australia)

For Matthew Cohen!
The "Roman genius" is mentioned on page 150 of Norman Davies' Europe - A History, he says.."The Roman genius was projected into new spheres- especially into those of law, military organisation, administration and engineering...produced literary and artistic sensibilities of the highest order...many leading Roman soldiers and statesmen were writers of the highest calibre."
I hope this is helpful.


I'm OK with reading Zinn, I guess. He's not a great scholar, but at the least I suppose maybe some of these voices have yet to be turned into an afternoon special. A good counterpoint would be Paul Johnson's A History of the American People. One benefit: Johnson is rigorous with his sources. Zinn is typically sloppy on that front.


I'm still upset about the Third Punic War. It was such a big misunderstanding and completely unnecessary. I could say the same about the English Civil War or the American Revolution, the Mideast conflict since Oslo, all of which do not seem inevitable conflicts but accidents, the result of stubbornness and just plain not thinking about the other side. I'm sure I could think of more, like the revolt of Cassius against Marcus Arelius, the Jewish uprisings in 70, 110, and 131. Well, scratch that last one: if there are three case, then some of them must be inevitable. Stupid, but inevitable.


Ha! Now I understand why Mike said "there, I've done it". Sounds like a good book, I've added it to the list.


Really Howard Zinn? The earlier poster was right. If you want to be controversial read a Thomas Sowell or an issue of the National Review at your university faculty lounge. That takes guts. Reading Zinn or the Nation is gutless. I would never say not to read something, because that is exactly what Howard Zinn and his totalitarian ilk would do. I hope this was just to stir the pot, because otherwise I really have to question the entire narrative of this podcast.

Shelby Taylor

I think Mike made his recommendation concise for the purpose of not stirring the pot, but when you have whack-job tea-baggers like me out here, you're gonna get some comments... never the less the podcast stands on its own merit, as does Mikes rep.

Aaron Cash

You are great at this I just love the format



A small question for you. in this episode you mentioned a roman general who slain a germaniv chieftain in single hand to hand combat. Wouldn't he be eligeable for the Spolia Opima award???

Tnx for a great podcast!!


Michael McCormack

Dear Mike

Your the the Man.




Hey Mike,

Sorry for the late comment on this episode, i've been working my way from the beginning. Close to catching up.

I thought you'd be interested in an additional angle on the "Rain" miracle. Albus Butler in his "Lives of the Saints, Vol 1" makes mention of a saint by the name of St. Apollinaris the apologist, who apparently wrote several letters to Marcus Aurelius during his time as emperor apologising for the Christian religion (I suspect by apologise, he means, explain about). One in particular mentioned the Rain miracle itself.

Apparently, according the Apollonius, the twelfth legion, called the Melitine, from a town of that name in Armenia, was chiefly composed of Christians. These, as the legions were perishing of thirst, fell to their knees in prayer and prayed for their salvation, and that of their emperor despite his persecution of the Christians.

Apparently the sight of a legion falling on their knees surprised their enemies, "who had more reason to be astonished at the event; for all on a sudden the sky was darkened with clouds, and a thick rain showered down."

Obviously there were a million explanations for this event, from chance, to the gods, to "magic", but Albus (or Apollinaris, it isn't clear who makes the claim) notes that Marcus must have at least considered the possibility, as he immediately gave the legion the name of "the Thundering Legion".

Apparently the apology was written to the emperor in an attempt to ease the persecution of Christians (who, I assume, still suffered under Trajan's paradoxical accusation laws) by reminding the Emperor what he had gained from the Christians in his own time of need.

Makes an interesting side-story to the battle in any case, and no doubt would have been another prod in the growth of the cult during this period.

Lawrence Dann-Fenwick

Dear Mike,

I just wanted to thank you so much for making this podcast! I found it when perusing podcasts on itunes to start listening to - and it has completely changed my interests. I always enjoyed military history - especially WWII - but i now have found that your storytelling capability (which is outstanding), combined with the rich history Ancient Rome has to offer has created a new favorite time period for me! I am actually writing a college essay on THoR.

My dad has also picked up your podcast and he loves it too. Hopefully i will catch up too - I spent the whole summer listening in my free time!

thanks for all your hard work,


Codrin Bucur

Love the podcast! I listen to it every day on the way to work and back. Made it to episode 100 so far and I hope it will never end! ;-)

For this episode and a few others around this time frame, a maybe minor thing, but the Dacians of Decebalus didn't completely vanish, allowing the Germans to roam free.

Check the Costoboci and Carpi tribes, assumed by most historians as free Dacians:

Yes, I am Dacian fan ;-)

Best regards,

Belstaff leather

It's great to hear from you and see what you've been up to. In your blog I feel your enthusiasm for life. thank you.

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