A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Monday, 27 September 2010

Hooptedoodle #3 - The Napoleon Podcast


Many of the readers of this blog will be familiar with TPN's Napoleon Podcast, and if you have heard it, or follow it, then you will have your own views on it.

For those who have not heard it, I must explain that it is an extended series of podcasts presented by (and produced by) an Australian, Cameron Reilly, and co-hosted by the American Napoleonic historian, J David Markham, author of Napoleon for Dummies. They have been doing these shows for some 3 or 4 years now, and the latest episode I am aware of is #57 in the series.

You can download all the shows, free, from their website - here. Shows last anything up to an hour and a half, so I hope your broadband download speed is rather better than mine..

I came across the TPN shows by accident, and, initially, I regret to say, was not impressed. I hasten to add that I have dramatically changed my opinion, but I'll get to that.

These podcasts are not the same as radio broadcasts - this is probably obvious to anyone else, but I had to get the hang of it. There is much more of a homespun quality, presentation style tends to be conversational, and you have to listen to them in an appropriate frame of mind. Of course, I ran the first show sitting in front of the computer as if I were watching BBC2, thinking "Right - impress me, then".

Wrong attitude. I was quickly turned off by the informal structure, by Reilly's grating inability to pronounce the name of any person or place which is not English, and by Markham's long-winded and rather rambling avuncularity. The pronunciation thing is of passing interest, by the way, since it reflects on me rather than anything else. I confess I come from a long line of petty intellectual snobs, and we have always rejoiced in the things which we knew better than others, glossing quickly (of course) over the much larger number of things about which we knew nothing at all. With more appropriate exposure to the podcasts, I have seen the error of my ways, and have very much warmed to the whole idea - I am suitably ashamed of my early prejudice and have become a big fan.

Reilly, in truth, is well informed on the subject, organises and threads together the podcasts skilfully (they are recorded live via a Skype link, with Reilly in Australia and his collaborator in the USA), while Markham is a treasure - an expert who is knowledgeable but also an extremely amusing speaker. The trick is to understand that a podcast is not a formal lecture, it is your friend, and should be regarded as such. I spend a good portion of a week in each month distributing a community magazine in a very rural area, and I walk miles in all sorts of weather. This is podcast territory - with my little Zen mp3 player I can pass the time quickly and pleasurably - and I have also learned a great deal recently.

If you have not heard TPN talking about Napoleonic history, I recommend that you check them out.

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