Finding History is a blog written by Lars Brownworth that covers questions from his podcasts 12 Byzantine Rulers, Norman Centuries and his book Lost to the West.

Mr. Brownworth created the genre-defining 12 Byzantine Rulers podcast, which prompted the New York Times to liken him to some of history’s great popularizers. Recently, he finished a book titled Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization, which is available in bookstores now. He speaks at various conferences and is currently working on a new podcast that brings to life the reign of the Normans.

21 responses so far

  1. First off, thank you so much for these pod-casts. They are ideally sized for listening to in the shower while I get ready for the day. Do you have plans to follow up Norman Centuries with another series of lectures?

    On a side note, could you recommend a lecture available online related to the Mongol Empire? In terms of longevity it certainly doesnt compare with the Byzantine Empire, but it touched the histories of most civilizations of it’s time, and is rarely covered in a detail that I crave.

  2. Your podcasts are just excellent – thank you so much. I had no idea that my European history was so Western Roman empire biased, and – being taught in high school in England – Harold and William was very biased towards Harold. Hearing the background that led up to it was so interesting.

    Also, I really enjoyed your asides when you would speculate how history would differ if X won the war or if Y had not died (or died earlier).

    Thank you!

  3. Mr. Brownworth

    Thank you very much for what you are doing. As a History teacher I value and appreciate your works. I received Lost to the West from my father in law for Christmas, pure greatness sir, pure greatness. Are there any other Historical arenas that you may be developing into a possible podcast series? Just a curious fan. thanks again Lars.

  4. Thanks Mark. There are so many areas of history I find interesting, that the problem really is one of narrowing down. Right now I’m back on a Byzantine kick writing my kindle e-books, but I’ve been thinking of of heading to the ancient Near East. Maybe those terrifying Assyrians whose empire collapsed as suddenly as it rose, or the Persians of Cyrus- one of the most brilliant politicians who ever lived. Or maybe the story of Carthage to catch a glimpse of Rome from another side (that way I could selfishly throw in the Etruscans who are responsible for the name Lars). Next week I’ll probably swing back to the Middle Ages (non-Byzantine that is), but for right now I’m leaning in a Mediterranean/Near East direction. Of course I’m always open to suggestions!

  5. The “Babylonian” culture, people and its origins/ evolution intrigue me to no end.

  6. Thomas Yohannan

    I came across your lecture series on the Byzantine emperors the other day, and I wanted to tell you what a terrific job you have done. I haven’t listened to all the lectures yet, but I can already tell you that you have done a far better job of summarizing, focusing, and highlighting the essentials and the essence than the scholars who did the Teaching Company series (Kenneth Harl) and the Modern Scholar series Thomas F. Madden). Kudos!

  7. Yes- both the Old empire and the Neo-Babylonians- the ‘ancient Greece’ of the Near East. Complete with a literary classic that has been somewhat overlooked: Gilgamesh- or as they knew it “He who saw the Deep”.

  8. Thanks Thomas. I am a big fan of the Teaching Company so that’s high praise indeed!

  9. Lars

    Thank you so much for your wonderful podcast. I’m currently cramming for my comps for my MA in Ancient/Classical history and they’ve been a great review of the significant Byzantine leaders.

    As a fellow teacher, I’m looking forward to incorporating more Byzantine history into my World History class.

    Thank you


  10. Cara,
    Thanks- having another teacher work more Byzantine history into her class is music to my ears!

  11. Dear Mr. Brownworth:

    I gobbled up “Lost to the West” in just two enjoyable sittings.

    Some of this was familiar territory to me, as I’ve been reading ancient and medieval history for years.

    But what I particularly enjoyed was your emphasis on the continuity between the Western and Eastern empires. Classical Rome didn’t end in 476, but rather in 1453. Point well taken.

  12. Mr. Brownworth, I have visited Istanbul and I have been reading several books on the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. I am a High School World History teacher of all levels (traditional right up to AP and IB) and the Byzantine Empire is now a major part of the Florida Standards. My question is what do you feel should be taught to High Schoolers about the Byzantine Empire? Needless to say the typical 15 year old has no background knowledge of Byzantines and I would like to change that!

  13. Dear Ted, most of what is taught in high school goes to Constantine and sometimes Justinian because they are known more in the west. Maybe a few more Byzantine emperors and some culture background and for your students that are Orthodox Christians rather than Protestant or Roman Catholic they are familiar with the Byzantines because of religion and some of the saints in the Orthodox church are in this time period and these students can discuss their religious beliefs which are similar to the Byzantines to the rest of the class to show how Orthodoxy varies from either Roman Catholic belief or Protestant belief.

  14. Hi Mr. Brownworth – I’ve just discovered your 12 Byzantine Rulers podcasts — I’m listening to them for the second time and loving them. I was in Turkey last summer and will go back this summer – my husband’s involved with the dig at Troy. I would love to listen to/read anything that you wrote about the ancient Near East (I’m intrigued by where Troy lies in that culture. We think of it as Greek, which it was, but it was also Near Eastern, which is much more interesting to me.), though I was also hoping that you might delve into Ottoman history. Any chance that you’d take that on?

  15. I just wanted to thank you for the gift of these podcasts.

  16. Thanks for listening (and reading)

  17. Dear Mr. Brownworth, you created a terrific podcast. It’s captivating, it’s accurate and it’s exceptionally vivid. Thank you very much for your time and dedication.
    I’ve already bought your book and anticipating reading it. I am spreading a word. Is there a way/a need to donate?

  18. Thans for the support and suggestion, Dmitry, there is now a Donate button at the top of the page. Try it out!

  19. Mr. Brownworth,

    Thanks for doing this podcast! I’m enjoying it very much so far!

    I’m writing because my son has also been getting really into history podcasts with me, which is great, but podcasts don’t usually come with family ratings, and history isn’t always family friendly. It’s also hard to keep him from binge-listening and getting way ahead of me. So I thought I’d ask, before turning him on to your series: if you were the MPAA (for example), how would you rate your podcast?

  20. Scott,
    How old is your son? It’s been a while since I recorded those (more than a decade!) but I would rate it PG. There are, however, some blindings (Irene), battles (most), and of course Justinian’s wife Theodora had a rather disreputable beginning- although I tried to be discreet. I think I do mention that she was most likely an ex-prostitute.

  21. Lars,

    My son is ten. It sounds like your podcast would be great for him.

    Thanks again!

Leave a Reply