Mike Duncan (podcaster)

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Mike Duncan
American Podcaster Mike Duncan.png
Mike Duncan in his study
Born Redmond, Washington
Alma mater Western Washington University (B.A.)
Texas State University
Occupation Podcaster, Historian
Known for The History of Rome, Revolutions

Mike Duncan is an American podcaster and author known for his award-winning podcast The History of Rome (THoR), Revolutions, and the book The Storm before the Storm. The History of Rome aired between 2007 and 2012 and covered Roman history from its legendary founding to the fall of the Western Roman Empire. The History of Rome won best educational podcast at the 2010 podcast awards, and was listed among the best podcasts of 2015 by Apple. "The Storm Before the Storm" entered the New York Times Bestseller list Hardcover Non-Fiction at the eighth place in December 2017.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Duncan was born in Redmond, Washington and attended Western Washington University, attaining a degree in Political Science with a minor in Philosophy. He is an avid fan of the Seattle Mariners baseball team.[2]

During the course of The History of Rome, Duncan married his wife Brandi and made a special THoR episode on Roman wedding customs in celebration.[3] Mike and Brandi currently live in Madison, Wisconsin,[4] with their son and daughter and two pets.[5][6][7] Brandi is a dedicated runner and has competed in the Austin Marathon.[8] Aside from podcasting, Duncan is currently a stay-at-home dad, and has worked previously as a fishmonger.[5] Duncan also occasionally creates political comic strips in collaboration with illustrator Jason Novak.[9]

Interest in history[edit]

Duncan’s interest in Roman history grew from a “general interest in ancient civilizations”. As a child, he would often flip through his parents encyclopedia set to the entries on Ancient Egypt or Ancient Greece, the Maya, the Inca, etc. The largest and most encompassing of those civilizations to Duncan was always the Romans. Mike became especially interested in Roman history while reading his grandfather's paperback version of Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.[3]

Describing himself as “a complete history geek”, Duncan also has a huge interest in American history. He believes the greatest difference between America and Rome is that compared to Rome, America has only spent a short time on the world stage.[3] Despite studying political science in college, Duncan spent much of his free time studying ancient Greek and Latin texts. "I sort of stumbled into it, so I was reading a ton of Livy at the time, and a ton of Suetonius, and then I had just gotten into Tacitus."[10]

Regarding modern history, Duncan has predicted that Silicon Valley may in the future be deemed as groundbreaking as the Renaissance was. He has stated “We have lived in the last twenty years through some of the most impressive advances in human civilization.”[11]

The History of Rome[edit]

Mike Duncan began The History of Rome in 2007; it was an award-winning weekly podcast which aired until 2012.[10] In the 2010 Podcast Awards, The History of Rome won best educational podcast. The podcast covers the time period from the origin of the Roman Kingdom to the fall of the Western Roman Empire, focusing on the most accepted chain of events according to historical consensus.


Revolutions has aired since September 2013. The podcast covers modern political revolutions, beginning with the English Revolution. Each series follow a mostly chronological approach with one or two episodes at the beginning dedicated to the pre-history of the revolution and its causes, sometimes highlighting when and how the revolution could have been avoided. He also includes "supplementals" - special episodes not counted in the normal number of episodes and of more varying length compared to roughly half-hour normal episodes - which deal with a particular topic or person in depth and are sometimes verbatim reproductions of historical texts such as the American Declaration of Independence or the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen.

The Storm Before the Storm[edit]

On October 24, 2017, Duncan's first (non-transcript) book, The Storm Before The Storm, was published. In the book, Duncan explores Rome between 146-78 BC, the period predating the end of the Roman Republic.[12] It entered the New York Times best seller list Hardcover Non-Fiction on the eighth place during its first week.[1] In an interview with the Washington Post Worldview, Duncan claimed his aim for the book was to 'pull back two generations' (from the time of Caesar) 'and ask, “What was it that opened the cracks in the foundation of the Republic?”'[13]

The book became a New York Times bestseller, and drew widespread praise, with many noting how the events described in the book portend to modern times[14]. Benjamin Wittes of Lawfare Blog wrote "Never has a book about history that's two millennia old been so timely...You'll learn as much about the problems we face today from this book as from any newspaper", and a review in the Washington Post noted " With his fresh approach, Mike Duncan shows that it is important to understand what happened two thousand years ago to understand what is happening now and in the coming centuries."[15]


Duncan runs a series of tours to accompany his podcasts which visit historical sites mentioned on the show.[16]


Benjamin Wittes directly modelled the introduction to the Lawfare Podcast on The History of Rome.[17]