I love Dan Carlin’s „Hardcore History” podcast. The stories of mundane concerns during wars, plagues, and other terrible events in human history are somehow deeply informative of the human spirit.
I am very grateful that Dan spares the gory details, but he keeps in the weight of the event and pulls lessons from the history books.
Thanks to Dan Carlin, I realized that history is like a TV series that really happened. And one more unpredictable than any “Game of Thrones” or „Witcher” script.
„The End is Always Near” is the first Dan’s book and a little more organized than the podcast. It has a central message that it supports very well – Humans always seem to be on the brink of extinction.
What stood out to me:
- Through most generations in history, people were much tougher than we are. They have watched their sons and daughters die horribly, the wars and plagues were rolling constantly
- The children were treated horribly as well. Basically everybody was traumatized, but somehow they haven’t seen it as trauma. Maybe with the constant risk of dying, psychological trauma was a less pressing concern?
- The consequences of the Atomic bomb were enormous. Because nuclear retaliation is a tool that has to be deployed in minutes, only 1 person needs to make this call. Now, that the US president has this cross to bear, it automatically transformed the office of the president into one-man apocalypse machine
- Cold War has introduced the tensions that turned the USA into a Police state and that is still the case.
If you want to listen more about the Cold War, here is the „Destroyer of Worlds” episode:
My highlights ( I’d love to have more, but I was not reading this on Kindle and my hardcover highlight game is not strong )
- Andrew Mellon, the secretary of the treasury under President Herbert Hoover when the 1929 stock market crashed, which initiated more than decade of economic collapse, thought the coming hardship would be good thing. “It will purge the rottenness out of the system,” Mellon said, as reported in Hoover memoirs. “High costs of living will come down People will work harder live more moral life Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up the wrecks from less competent people From Mellon’ point of view maybe he got his wish. The Depression put an end to the Roaring Twenties time remembered for high living, speakeasies, jazz, flappers, the Charleston, and the advent of motion pictures What Mellon might have thought wasteful frivolity was simply fun to others. Things got lot less fun when money became more Scarce.
- Before the modern era, the number of people who lost multiple children to illness was astonishing One wonders what effects this might have had on individuals and their society as whole The historian Edward Gibbon, who wrote The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, was one of seven children All six of his siblings died in infancy.
- One member of the Greatest Generation offered this solution for bringing down the Soviet Union: “We should have been dropping Playboy magazines, blue Jeans, and Elvis Presley records on them, and they’ll do It themselves
- Lloyd deMause quotes piece written by the chief of police in Paris in 1780 estimating that of the, on average, 21,000 children born in that city every year, only 700 were nursed by their biological mothers.
- From 410 onwards successive Western imperial regimes Just gave way or lost practical auditority over more and more of the territory of the former Empire The Western Empire delegated itself out of existence Central authority
- Saxons apparently ignored the warning, continued to kill evangelizing clergy, and never ceased their usual small-scale raiding and banditry on the border. Charlemagne fought cam aign after campaign against them, and eventually succeeded in Cutting down the sacred tree they venerated as holding up the universe and allegedly beheading 4.500 of them in day at Verden in 782. And, like the Roman emperors who preceded him, Charlemagne found out that there always seemed to be more ferocious barbarians behind the ones he’d just subdued.
- In the end, the clergy suffered fatalities at the same rate as the rest of the population, and their deaths led to unexpected consequences For example, to replace losses in their ranks, the church lowered the ages at which people could attain positions of authority. This led often to very young, hardly prepared peopie in positions that had previously been held by much older, more august figures. Before the epidemic, members of the clergy had devoted their whole lives to the church. The people who replaced them weren’t necessarily as committed or as educated. Corruption began to creep in, especially as men attained elevated posi tions in the church due to money changing hands, not thanks to their lifelong commitment or qualifications. Over the course of around two centuries, the clergy reputation diminished, tarnished by abuses and excess and lack of high standards. This dissatisfaction led to the development of the many complaints that the German theologian Martin Luther
- In 1899, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia ? called meeting that would come to be known as the Hague Convention, the first of many to be held on the establishment of international law re garding armaments There, representatives of more than two dozen countries took up the issue of airships, with the Russians proposing ban on all bombing from the air. The American del egate counterproposed that the ban last only five years, since the science might improve to allow for precision bombing which might prove humane insofar as it could shorten Wars.
- From September until November 13, London was bombarded every night. total of 13,000 tons of high explosives and 12,000 incendiary canisters were dropped. Other cities were raided, too, and the most famous raid is the one on Coventry on 14 November 1940, when 450 bombers discharged 500 tons of high explosives and 880 incendiary canisters. Civilian losses were appalling, mainly because there were few adequate air raid shelters. The attacks failed both to stop the British raids over Ger. many and to squash morale. Indeed, the whole idea of using bombers to destroy civilian morale was flawed for several reasons. One may have been the bravery of the citizenry
- The physicist Freeman Dyson, who worked for the raps Bomber Command, said years after the war, “I felt sickened by what knew. Many times, decided had moral obligation to run out into the streets and tell the British people what stupidi- ties were being done in their name. But I never had the courage to do it. sat in my office until the end, carefully calculating how to murder most economically another hundred thousand people It takes time to get to point of logical insanity
- It’s hard to really know how much of the navy’s opposition was truly based on morality or how much might have been an effort to defend the necessity and relevance of its branch of the military services In the face of those looming budget cuts. (Indeed, the moral complaints would be notably muted later when navy submarines began to carry nuclear weapons The admirals’ testimony elucidated key moral question that the world still wrestles with decades later