Is it true, I ask Mike Duncan, that his 189-part podcast chronicling the history of Ancient Rome has been downloaded 56 million times?
“No, it’s more than that,” Duncan says with the erudite, cool-guy delivery that’s helped make his The History of Rome podcast a stunning success and turned Duncan into a kind of hipster Edward Gibbons. In fact, together with Duncan’s ongoing Revolutions series, which narrates the stories of the English, French, American, and Haitian revolutions, Duncan’s podcasts have been downloaded over 100 million times.
That’s a lot of downloads, and it drew the attention of a literary agent and a publisher who clearly know a platform when they see one.
This brings us to The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic, which debuts this week as number eight on The New York Times nonfiction bestseller list. Duncan’s new book chronicles the violent upheavals in the half-century before the celebrated ancients Caesar, Pompey, and Mark Antony bloodied the Mediterranean soil working out their political and personal beefs.