Last week we started a series of articles on the best YouTube channels in different domains and we selected the funniest YouTube channels. Our topic this week is history, but before we get into the best history YouTube channels — and more specifically my favorite YouTube history channels, and not just some random channels everyone recommends — I want to address an important question:
Why Even Study Most History?
There are many good YouTube history channels out there, but before I recommend any, I would like us to go over the reasons why you should even study history in the first place. Most people have a general idea of why it’s good to study history, even if you do it in your spare time or for relaxation, but the better you understand your motivation behind it, the easier it will be for you to choose good channels and suitable sources for you.
History has practical applications that go beyond kings and dates. For example, it can help you lead others, forge successful teams, teach you economics and finance, teach you how to be skeptical of the narrative of the mainstream media, or teach you that life is brutal and short. That’s why I recommend you start your YouTube journey into history with this video. It is basically the answer to the question “why study history” given by TIK, the YouTube channel that is by far the best on the topic of history, and that I’ve been watching regularly for over 4 years. And this leads us to my first recommendation in:
The Best YouTube History Channels
TIKhistory is a YouTuber who creates detailed and accurate historical documentaries that aim to put TV documentaries to shame. With a focus on World War 2 and similar topics, TIK seeks to dispel the myths and distortions of the past so that we can learn from it and not make the same mistakes again.
What differentiates him from the other YouTube history channels, besides his attention to detail, is that he analyzes all the important sources on a certain subject. He gets rid of all the contradictions that are confirmed from several perspectives and he tries to build a narrative that is confirmed from multiple independent sources (where possible). This is what all historians should do, right? But, in my opinion, the most important thing that sets him apart from the rest, is that he frequently asks himself the question “is this really the case?” and tries to answer it by going through the process mentioned above.
If you want to find out more about the creator, including the reason why the channel is named TIKhistory, you should start with this video. It is valuable to know who the person you’re listening to is, and this is how he said it in his own words in the video above: “history is created by the historian… and you kind of need to know who the historian is. If you don’t know who the historian is, then you will be unable to see if they have biases or agendas”.
Another important detail to mention about TIKhistory is the consistency with which he uploads new videos. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone as dedicated and consistent. He has been investing over 72 hours a week and uploading regular content every Monday for years.
If you are interested to take a look over his videos, you should know that they are mostly World War II-related. Among them, I would recommend the “Battlestorm Stalingrad” series, the “Operation Crusader” series, or even The MAIN Reason Why Germany Lost WW2 video.
The only complaint I have about TIK is that he’s not posting even more content than he does now. With time, he managed to bring in people who help him with graphics, for example. But it is mainly still a one-man team. It would be ideal for him to build a team of like-minded individuals and scale his content even more. But that is not easy to do, and we can only hope!
Military History Visualized is my next suggestion. This is also a fantastic history channel, but it is more focused on the military side of history. This channel features Military History ranging from Classical Times up to contemporary conflicts. The focus is to keep it short, visual, analytical, and entertaining. What is important to mention is that every video uses academic books as its sources, where possible, and they will be linked in the description. I really liked the phrase describing the model upon which the videos are made, based on a quote by Winston Churchill: “A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest”. Based on this model, the videos are also relatively short, entertaining, visual, and on interesting topics.
On Military History Visualized you will find videos on weaponry, tanks, comparisons, statistics, and elements of tactics or strategy. It’s not for everyone, and I would say it is the most suitable for people curious about military stuff and not just history in general. For starters, I would recommend videos like Top 11 Misconceptions of World War 2 or German Squad Tactics in World War 2.
If you really like it and want more in the same direction, the creator has also made a similar secondary channel named Military History not Visualized, which focuses more on experiences, museum trips, military equipment, and personal delivery. An interesting video here would be Ambushing TiK at Tank Fest, in which both talk about interesting history stuff.
With this third suggestion, we move more towards easier-to-digest videos. Griffin Johnsen is the founder of The Armchair Historian, a channel that produces educational and entertaining animated history videos. What sets him apart from the rest is not just that the information is presented much more visually, but the topics covered as well. He presents everything from uniform comparisons and tank evolution to wars visualized in quite a lot of detail. The animations are enjoyable and are especially suitable for someone who wants to relax, but also learn something in the meanwhile.
What I found the most interesting and what differentiates him even more from other history channels are his videos made from perspectives that you probably haven’t seen before. For example, Falklands War From Argentina’s Perspective, WW2 From India’s Perspective, or D-Day From the German Perspective. It is essential to see these events from multiple perspectives, and not just the one of the conquerors, or of the ones who set up the status quo. Other examples of interesting perspectives would be videos like Life in German-Occupied France, Life in Nazi Germany, or Life in East Germany, which are very special because they convey feelings that wouldn’t be as well conveyed in other formats, such as audio or reading. Griffin Johnsen uses the advantage of the visual medium to the maximum, especially with animations that instill emotions that would otherwise be very superficially felt by those just reading or listening to the facts. And for that, it deserves to be praised, especially since there are very few similar initiatives on YouTube doing such a good job with this. My only serious complaint here as well is that he doesn’t produce more videos, but animations are hard to create and scale. Hopefully, he will manage to add more similar content in the future.
The next recommendation is Mr. Terry History, a high school history teacher’s channel. He produces history lessons as well as react-to-history videos on YouTube. His content is also much easier to follow, and it works well if you want to relax and learn something at the same time. What’s differentiating him the most from other YouTube history channels are his react or respond videos, such as A History Teacher Reacts to Simpsons History Jokes, A History Teacher Reacts to the History of the World in Minecraft!, or A Historian Reacts | History Summarized: Britain. In these videos, you will not only see the reactions of a person who most likely knows a lot more history than you, but you will probably also learn something.
What also makes him more interesting is that he starts discussions on topics that are much more appealing to a young audience, like the Minecraft example above, or even more enjoyable subjects for them, like the historical references in Family Guy. This is especially noticeable when compared to the much heavier to digest topics covered by other channels, such as World War II or strategic and tactical elements in various battles. That’s why I believe this channel is a good recommendation for young people or those who want to get into history as easily as possible, without being discouraged by things that might seem boring in the beginning. At least until they start to develop a more sophisticated palate and bigger appetite and curiosity.
The Operations Room is another exceptional channel I want to recommend to those interested more in tactics and strategy. It is similar to The Armchair Historian, but focused on the way famous battles went, down to the details of how the troops moved, what each party involved knew, how they reacted to enemy movements, and why they did what they did. What would you have done in the place of Isoroku Yamamoto (Japanese Marshal Admiral of the Imperial Japanese Navy) during the Battle of Midway knowing what he knew? Would you have proceeded in the same way?
This is one of the channels that allow you to practice your strategic thinking through a much more visual and intuitive medium. For example, if you read a book summing up the Battle of Midway, it’s very hard to memorize all the elements mentioned, and then imagine the moves and take into account all the reactions happening on the battlefield. It’s like trying to play chess from memory, without seeing the board. It is possible, there are some capable of doing it, but it’s not realistic for most people, especially if they want to learn how to think strategically. But, with the animation in front, it is much easier to discuss the strategic part, but also the tactical part. If you are interested in the subject, take a look over The Battle of Midway or The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal 1942 videos and you will understand what I’m talking about.
In conclusion, if you are interested in history and want to go straight to the best, I suggest starting with TIKhistory. If you want something more relaxed and visual, with easier-to-digest topics and a focus on weaponry, tanks, and more specific military details, Military History Visualized would be more suitable for you. If, on the other hand, you want something more strategic, with detailed analyses of famous battles, then The Operations Room might be the best for you. However, if you think you don’t have the mental energy for something very complicated (for example after a hard day of work), but you’d also like to learn something at the same time, then The Armchair Historian is the most suitable one for you. And if you’re a beginner and would like to know more about history, but you’re afraid of diving directly into the complicated stuff because you believe you would get discouraged, Mr. Terry History is the channel for you. These channels are just a small part of what you could try. Bookmark this article and come back in a few months, and you might discover new and interesting channels in addition to the already mentioned ones! And don’t forget to share with your history-loving friends.
See also: How can you do SEO for a video?