This Is My Story

I struggled with the title of this post for the longest time. For ages it was labelled in my notes as ‘Dear History Graduates, please start a history podcast’. As I continued to add bits onto it though, the post started to turn into something else entirely. To make my original point I began detailing my life experience to date, and I came to realise something along the way - my life has been one heck of a journey, and people might well be encouraged to learn about it. In case you were wondering, by the way, I should warn you - LONG POST AHEAD!

If you’re reading this right now having come fresh out of college, or if you have an eye on the future and aren’t sure whether studying history is your thing, based on what you’ve heard, then have a read of this. It won’t take very long, and maybe afterwards you’ll realise that you have more to offer than you might have expected. Hopefully, this post will not only encourage you, it will also reinforce the idea that there are many ways to get to your end destination, whatever that may be, so don’t accept no for an answer the first time around. Chin up, believe in yourself, and remember that some nerd from Kilcoole, County Wicklow managed to get there, so why can’t you?

I can’t promise you a miracle, but what I can promise is that your hard work does have value, and you will be able to make use of it for the force of good. This post isn’t just an effort to make you feel cheerful about what 2019 holds, or to inspire you to try harder. In many respects, this post is also my love letter to history podcasting. After nearly seven years of history podcasting myself, I understand the value of this strange but brilliant art form, and I also have experienced first-hand what a credit it can be for you personally and professionally. Let’s get stuck in and see what I mean.

My story

The story of Zack Twamley does not begin with this podcast. I started podcasting when I was 20 years old, in the second semester of a Bachelor of Arts in history and politics at University College Dublin (UCD). I didn’t know much about who I was or what my end goals were, but I did know that I loved history, and I wanted so badly to share that love with others. As I said though, this story of me did NOT begin in 2012, already in UCD. Instead, to fully grasp the uplifting side of my tale, you need to begin two years earlier.

18 year old Zack certainly believed that he would go to UCD - it never occurred to him that he wouldn’t. He wanted to study History and English, because he loved writing essays and being creative with his stories. You could say that he liked the sound of his own pen, and you’d be correct. I have memories of my English teachers dreading the day when they’d receive my essay, because it was nearly always twice as long as those of my peers. The real danger emerged when we were simply given a title for a story and told to run with it - my imagination ran wild, and I frequently ran out of paper. Yes, I was one of those people in the exam who ask for more paper. And darn proud of it too.

All of this should paint a certain impression. I loved and was confident in my ability to talk about history, just as much as I was confident in my ability to write far too much in English. It was fortunate that I believed I was good at these subjects, because I certainly wasn’t good at anything else. French? Anyone who has listened to me try to pronounce French names, places etc. knows it isn’t my strongest suit, to be generous about it. Maths? Again, trust me when I say I wasn’t built for this. The Sciences? Absolutely useless, and completely out of my depth. History and English were my jam, I was going to pursue them all the way into University, and I was going to follow my friends seamlessly into UCD. This was my vision, and there were no alternatives.

All I had to do, it was said, was get a minimum of 365 points in my Leaving Cert. The Leaving Cert, to those outside of Ireland who are unaware, is the set of exams which all pupils take as they progress from their final year of secondary (high) school and go into college. To demonstrate your competency for University, you have to do well enough in these exams to meet the required points for each course. Points are received depending on the grades you get. The system has since become more complicated, but in my day (2010) it was relatively simple - an A+ nets you 100 points, a B+ 80, and so on. Every student was required to take six subjects, though you could take more. I took seven, and believed that I was effectively guaranteed a place.

When it all falls apart

By my tone, you can probably tell it didn’t go according to plan. When the day came for results, I learned that rather than 365 points, I had only managed 345. According to the law of the Leaving Cert, this meant I wouldn’t be going to UCD, I wouldn’t be doing History and English, and my life was basically over. It sounds dramatic, but anyone Irish reading right now will believe me when I say that the Leaving Cert is presented as the be all and end all when you’re that age. It’s a horrific amount of pressure, not least because it’s presented as a channel into your career, which you will stay in for the rest of your life. How many 17 or 18 year olds know what they want to do for the rest of their lives? I would wager very few, but that didn’t matter to me on that sad summer’s day in 2010, all that mattered was that I had come up short, and thanks to the screams of joy from my very smart peers, I felt like the only person in the universe that had.

I am not ashamed to admit that I cried my eyes out. I literally had no other plan, because it had been above my imagination to suppose that I wouldn’t get what I want. Funnily enough, the lifeline which I latched onto came almost completely out of the blue, and I very nearly shunned it altogether. Again, this is a somewhat Irish-exclusive term, so bear with me. Following the collapse of my Leaving Cert, I was put in touch, through my tears, with the school’s guidance counsellor. She was wonderful, and reminded me that all was not lost - ‘yeah right, what do YOU know’ I remember thinking. She recommended I check out and apply for a Post-Leaving Cert Course, also known as a PLC course. There were several within an hour’s travel from me, and the way it worked was that after a year in this course, I would be given a chance to get into UCD through another route, if I did well enough in the PLC course.

It was a second chance in other words, and represented something of a lifeline. I had to be quick though, my guidance counsellor said, because enrollment begins in a fortnight, and they are probably all filling up with hopeless chancers just like me at this very minute. Probably the worst part about this whole crisis, and one of the things I most appreciate about my guidance counsellor’s advice at this point, was that not once did she say ‘I told you so.’ As ashamed as I am to admit it, I arrogantly pushed aside all suggestions of registering for a PLC when it was suggested to me several months before the Leaving Cert was held. I didn’t need it, I insisted. To the reasonably point that a PLC could be like an insurance policy for me, so that even if I got into UCD successfully I could simply un-register myself, I turned it aside. I don’t NEED an insurance policy, I insisted, because I have a plan. God, I must have been insufferable.

Of course, after having warned me before, she would have been well within her rights to have scolded me somewhat, and said, after everything DID collapse and I was in dire need of option B, that I should have taken her advice. Like so many other people in my life story though, my guidance counsellor stood up to the plate and helped me out even when there was no onus on her to do so. Thanks to her, I put in an application to a PLC in a place called Rathmines College of Further Education, somewhere I had never even heard of, but which, it was said, could get me into UCD if I did well enough. My meekly sought out second chance seemed destined to backfire once again though - I was told that unfortunately, the course applications were full. A week later, the phone rang again, with a curious question.

Not so simple

The course, it was said, was so oversubscribed, that there was almost no point in keeping my name on the waiting list, so I was asked if I wanted to free up my attentions for another course and take my name off. It was, and still is, a weird thing to ask, but I didn’t know any better, so I said no, just keep me on the list, because I wasn’t doing anything else. By now my options were quite limited, and it looked likely I would be doing a gap year of some kind, maybe working or just wallowing in a pool of tears. As it happened, I didn’t have long to wallow, because only a few hours after making this weird phone call, the phone rang again, with news that I will never forget as long as I live.

After only just telling me that the course was stupidly full and there was no way in schnell I would ever get a place, the course coordinator rang me to say that, in fact, there was now a place available. I will never forget how she put it either. ‘I don’t understand it Zack, but sometimes these things just happen, it’s just the way the cards fall.’ Regardless of how you feel about God, fate, karma or anything else, this to me was confirmation that God was looking out for me. Falling cards, in my mind, don’t go far enough in explaining this incredible moment. My mood did a complete 180, and I looked forward eagerly for a chance to prove myself and redeem myself, and hopefully get myself where I wanted to go.

Rathmines proved to be the most invaluable experience of my young life. It was like a halfway home between school and university, where you are unmistakably an adult, but you are still being chased down for assignments, because the teachers actually care. I was also able to take subjects in economics, IT, communications, history, English and…well now, what’s this? Politics. It was while in Rathmines that I realised how wrong my original plan had been - I hated the college version of English, because it was nothing like that version which I had had in school. However, I quickly realised first of all that I loved politics, and second, that politics and history were like a match made in heaven. When it came time to choose the subjects I wanted to do in UCD, I abandoned English, and chose for my Bachelor of Arts course History and Politics with International Relations. I had a firm grasp on the things that really interested me, and the things that did not, and thanks to Rathmines, I knew now that what I really wanted to do was teach in those subjects, and bring that passion to other people.

The date was about May 2011, but before I did anything, first I would have to get through these nine exams, and get enough distinctions to qualify for this second chance in UCD. I don’t remember being all that nervous, even though everything now depended on my progress. If I choked now as I had the year before for the Leaving Cert, everything would have been for nothing, and I would be back at square one. I went into the different exams and completed the varied assignments safe in the knowledge that all I needed was 4 distinctions out of the 9 different subjects I was taking. Already I had ruled several out as impossible missions, and reasoned that while it was competitive, I should be in with a pretty good chance. Rathmines, it was said, could only send something like seven out of its 60 or so pupils onto UCD, so there was a lot of pressure, but for some reason, I believed I would be okay.

Challenge accepted

For the first time in my life, I became one of those people that underrated how well they were going to do. I became one of the few people in my year to get NINE distinctions out of NINE. A perfect score, and something which absolutely floored me when I saw the results. I honestly believed they had made a mistake, and that something must have gone wrong. As I grew to accept it, and awkwardly announced my success to my peers, I got a taste of my old schoolmates felt the previous year, when they got their Leaving Cert results as I cried in the corner. This was, in my view, the moment when I wiped away that stain left by the Leaving Cert, and replaced it with this feeling of accomplishment and happiness. True to their word, UCD accepted me into their BA programme that September.

In September 2011, I thus began my studies and my academic journey. To the untrained eye, I looked like every other kid in the 500 seat lecture hall. Unlike them though, I hadn’t exactly gone the conventional route, and what was more, I was here because I knew that I absolutely knew what I wanted, and the hard work to get there had not been taken for granted. I was not going to college because I believed I should, I was going because it was what I wanted in my heart of hearts, because it was my passion.

Passion continued to be a central theme. I wanted to talk to people about history, to geek out on the things that truly fascinated me and to share my knowledge and debates with anyone who would listen. That was probably why I found history podcasting so endearing - here were people just like me, bringing history to people in a format which I could absorb while running, walking the dog or just chilling out. It didn’t require a library, a subscription or academic clout, only a passion for learning. I was enthralled, and I ripped through as many history podcasts as I could while I tried to scratch my itch.

The unusual producer

It might be surprising to learn that making my own podcast had never been a mission from the moment I first heard a podcast episode, and it didn’t even occur to me that setting one up was possible. History podcasting is what those people do - people who have it together, people who are professionals, people who have microphones, who understand technology, who are respected. I didn’t fit the criteria, so I didn’t even try. Having said that though, I knew what kind of podcast I would make if I was given the chance. My fling with politics convinced me that I loved learning the crazy and fascinating stories behind why wars happened, and why diplomacy stopped being a viable option. I wish I could remember specifically where the name When Diplomacy Fails came to me; all I can really say is that I hated the name at first, because it felt so awkward and unnatural - it didn’t even have the word podcast in it for crying out loud! Also, WDF as its initials? That’s a bit…suggestive is it not?

Anyway, there was no need to worry about podcasting or anything like that, because remember, as far as I was concerned, podcasting was for other people, and not for little old Zack, in the corner of Ireland, learning about wars. Then, one day in spring 2012, listening to the latest episode of A History of England, something which the host David Crowther said clicked with me. It was something akin to an offer - if any would be podders out there wanted a leg up, talk to David and he would try to oblige. I had never heard any podcaster say this before, but to hear this guy say such a thing kind of floored me, because it occurred to me that he wasn’t above all the rest of us. That’s not to say I thought David was too high and mighty for me, but because I had listened to him for so long, David Crowther was something akin to a celebrity in my mind, and not someone I could emulate or get in touch with. It blew my mind then that he was offering this very thing.

What happened next was quite surreal. I emailed him as you would email any other entity, and lo and behold, this voice in my earbuds replied, and with gusto. He encouraged me to get started, and to send him my first episode. Since he was in that era at the time, and since he shuddered at the thought of it, David suggested I cover the 1314 Battle of Bannockburn for my tester. The hook was that I could piggy back on his success - I could plonk this guest episode in David’s podcast feed, and thereby lead new listeners to me if they liked what they heard. There’s no better way to explain what happened next, other than to say that once I got in touch with David, all those semi-plans about setting up a podcast were pushed to the forefront without much warning. Suddenly, I was willing to take that leap into the unknown, to take a chance, to make my own podcast, to join the ranks of people who I had feasted upon for years.

In good company

In mid-May 2012, When Diplomacy Fails went live, with its own podcast feed and graphic just my other audio heroes. Shortly afterwards, David released my guest episode to his public. The result was, by June, I had reached 300 downloads, and When Diplomacy Fails was established with its third episode in the pod-sphere. It should be said, in case you were wondering, that I wasn’t very good, but in a sense, that was the whole point! In 2012, history podcasting was a fairly niche genre; I could count on two hands the podcasts then available for lovers of history, you’ve probably heard of most of them. All that mattered was that I was added to the ranks of history podcasters I had respected and enjoyed, and that other people, according to my 300 downloads, were also enjoying my show. I got some feedback, virtually all of it very pleasant and generous, and I couldn’t quite believe it was all happening.

I was, to use a term I am very fond of using, flying by the seat of my pants. I didn’t know how successful I was going to be or where I would end up. What I did know was that college wasn’t doing it for me in terms of scratching that history itch to its full extent, so I went out on my own initiative and made a point of examining wars which Zack Twamley, rather than the history curriculum at UCD, deemed worthwhile. By the end of 2012 I had banked more than twenty episodes, and I had built a much more complete understanding for the era in history which really interests me – those tumultuous years before the First World War. This fascination continued into 2013 and 2014, wherein I examined the 17th century as well, and released the first – and to my mind only – history podcast account of the Thirty Years War.

I followed this up in late June 2014 with an examination of the outbreak of the First World War, by tracing the events of the July Crisis a century before in a day by day, blow by blow account. It was this project, released more than two years after I had begun and eating up a great deal of time and energy, which really launched this podcast and netted me the reputation as a podcaster interested in the nitty gritty fascinating details, as amicable as your good friend but as serious about good scholarly research as your professor. By this point I had only just finished my Bachelor of Arts, yet in my mind the July Crisis Project and the feedback I received for it was almost more valuable as a learning experience than any degree. I had already determined to stay on for another year and get a Masters, and armed with the knowledge and appreciation for the era in question, I decided to base my dissertation around the outbreak of the First World War.

This background knowledge and the passion I had built up for the era paid off in a big way during this period. I felt consistently clued into the major issues and debates in history; I knew all the relevant scholars and could share something about the important figures from 1914 even before I started into my dissertation. I had, in other words, a head start, but that didn’t mean this dissertation would be easy. It turned out to be the hardest but also the most worthwhile thing I had ever done, and even while it took all my attention, my podcast was never far away from my thoughts. I finished my dissertation in July 2015 - a relaxing read entitled ‘Honour at Stake: the British decision to enter the First World War’, and thought ‘job done’. I wasn’t sure where I would work at all, and returned (having had no real plan) to Costa Coffee, the place where I had worked for a couple of years already, while I waited for my results.

Surpassed expectations

They came with a stunning revelation. Not only did I get the First Class Honours I had longed for, I also got the award for the best history dissertation of the academic year. I was too excited and had to share my exploits, which led to an even more incredible outcome – a publishing deal with a listener who just so happened to own a publishing company – Winged Hussar Publishing. I was able to update my dissertation, add in that chapter I had removed due to the word count limits, and go nuts on referencing, and before long, ‘A Matter of Honour: Great Britain and the First World War’ was born. It was only barely 100 pages, and I proceeded to wave it in everyone’s face and give away far too many for free, but still, my first book! Published, I must add, purely because of the exposure I had through the podcast.

Sometimes you forget that not only are your listeners actual people, they also have very impressive lives. The publishing deal was a manifestation of this fact, but I had actually been reminded of it even before I had finished my BA, in late 2013. At that time, a listener got in touch. His name was Dr John Hogan, and he had been listening to my podcast for some time. Hogan was a politics lecturer in the Dublin Institute of Technology, and he was so impressed with my body of work that he invited me into DIT to give a guest lecture to his students. Bear in mind that in late 2013, I hadn't even released the July Crisis Project which really solidified this podcast’s position. I was just a kid with his own show and I wanted to share my findings with the world. So I did, I nervously ventured into Dublin and gave a lecture on the outbreak of the First World War.

Incidentally, I would completely change my findings the following summer during the July Crisis Project, but still, the experience was quite unlike any I ever thought possible. Here I was, just a guy who loved history enough to start a podcast, and I was giving a lecture to people my age about things I was interested in. Hogan was very happy with how it all went, and we agreed to stay in touch. Unbeknownst to me, this was not the last time when Zack Twamley would pop into Hogan’s head. I hadn't seen the last of him…

In any case, bringing the timeline forward once more, once I graduated and entered into adult life with another two letters to my name, it seemed in many respects like not much had changed. However, by late 2015 I was determined on one thing – that I was going to advance my academic career and I was going to use this podcast as my portfolio in order to make it happen. I aimed high, putting in applications for a PhD in history to both Oxford and Cambridge. In my applications I emphasised not only my academic track record, but also the body of work which I had produced and which others had enjoyed in the podcast’s back catalogue. By this point I had over one million downloads, so that was a nice number to throw in there as well. I must be honest that I don’t know whether the podcast helped my application’s case, but it certainly didn’t hinder it. In early 2016 I received offers from both Oxford and Cambridge to do the degree which I had always imagined was above me.

Proving the doubters wrong

They had said yes, to me, the guy who didn’t get enough points to do History at UCD.

The next few months were a less happy experience, largely because my going to Oxbridge was conditional on funding, and as I anxiously awaited news of funding, it began to dawn on me that maybe this wasn’t the best time to up roots and begin a PhD. I was only 24 after all, and I was also engaged, so…yeah…maybe I should sort that out before I went any further. First though, I would need a job, and one that did not require me to make coffees for people eight hours a day. Sure enough, the podcast struck again. I was put in touch with a CEO of the Leprosy Mission, and he was looking for a researcher to set some projects in motion. My academic track record, once again, stood me in good stead, but it was also the fact that I demonstrated a strong and consistent work ethic with the podcast. It showed that I could work under pressure, meet deadlines and produce something useful at the end of it. It showed that I could research, trawl through libraries and come out the other end with accurate findings. On a more basic level it showed that I knew how to work a computer, as I could write long essays, and I was not above working hard for long stretches at a time. All of these traits were inculcated in me from the years of working on the podcast, and in this case, they netted me my first proper job.

For the next year and a half, until my contract expired, I furthered the podcast’s reach and my own appreciation for that medium, reaching a point in early 2018 where I could make a reasonable living from its proceeds. With the end goal of teaching history at third level still in mind, I determined to apply for Cambridge the second time in autumn, this time older and wiser, theoretically at least. Over the summer of 2018 I worked on the podcast as my job, while my new wife worked as a nurse. I won’t say the income was enormous, but it was enough to justify the time spent deep in the weeds of the Korean War, the Suez Crisis and a revamped version of the Thirty Years War. By September, when time came to reapply, I began the familiar process again. According to my plans, I would continue to work at the podcast until the following autumn in 2019 when, all being well, the wife and I would up roots for real this time and start the PhD adventure. Having saved money and being more determined to break into the Cambridge net, I was ready to go. Then one morning, I received an email which absolutely floored me, and which essentially prompted me to write this entire post.

Yet another surprise

Remember Dr John Hogan? He evidently remembered me from late 2013, and when an opening emerged in lecturing an Irish politics module he reached out and asked if I’d be interested. After years of trying so hard to get even a modicum of teaching experience, I was shocked, and didn’t get my hopes up too much. I put my name down, but within an hour was making plans to travel back into DIT for an interview for the position. Within 20 minutes, everything in my life changed. The lecturing position – two hours every Friday morning – wasn’t just ideally suited to someone like me who wanted to hold onto the flexibility of the podcast, it was also exactly the foot in the door which, we’re told, is essential for anyone who wishes to pursue a lecturing career at third level. Professionally, this teaching position represents the ‘break’ in my career which is important in a realm which values experience and connections so highly.

In case it wasn’t obvious though, perhaps the greatest thing about this development isn’t just how freakin’ exciting it all is, it’s the fact that absolutely none of this would have been possible without the podcast. If I hadn't started When Diplomacy Fails six and a half years ago, I would never have accumulated all the knowledge I gathered, I would never have done so well in my Masters, and I would never have had the confidence to apply to Cambridge. I wouldn’t have got my first job in the Leprosy Mission, I would never have inked a book deal, and, creatively, I would have no outlet.

More relevantly though, Dr John Hogan would never have known the name Zack Twamley.

I would never have been brought in to do a guest lecture, I would never have stuck in Hogan’s memory, and he would never have called me back to lecture in Irish politics to first year undergrads. All of this, absolutely all of this, was made possible because in May 2012, I decided that I wanted to share my love of history with the world, in whatever way I could. This despite the fact that I knew When Diplomacy Fails was not a big show, it was not fabulously well produced, and that it was never going to make me rich. However, it was a piece of me which I could share with whoever would listen; it was a practical way for me to demonstrate what I was capable of, aside from in college or through formal employment. Short of getting one’s book published independently, or knowing someone really important, there is no way I can think of for history graduates like myself to demonstrate these attributes. I do not doubt for one moment that there are history graduates out there right now whose talents and abilities far exceed my own.

Keep on podding

Because I have this podcast though, I have the leg up. I have the undeniable credit to my name which is, wholly, mine. It isn’t controlled by businesses or interests outside of my own, and it has no goal other than to share history with as many people as possible. That’s worth emphasising too; I didn’t start the podcast because I thought it would help with my employment prospects, I started it because I loved history, and I believed people who also loved history would enjoy it. I didn’t refrain from setting it up because I didn’t get enough points in my Leaving Cert to enroll in UCD, or because I only got a C+ in that history paper. My passion drove me on, and in time it erased the self-doubt. That said, of course I never imagined it to bring me all of these blessings: I never imagined it would bring me face to face with executives in the BBC; I never imagined it would provide me with the opportunity to interview a Holocaust survivor; I never imagined that I would be travelling to Harvard University to speak at podcast conference because of it.

I never had the capacity to imagine any of these things, but what I did have was an idea

I wanted so badly to share history with the world, and to revel in how people responded. It all began with a love for the subject matter and with a passion for sharing; the rest, as they say, is history. By sharing my story, hopefully you now understood why I feel it is important – so incredibly important – to start your own podcasting journey like I did. And I’m not saying that it will be easy, nor am I saying that you will enjoy the success I did (you may even enjoy more!). What I am saying is that once you start your history podcast, nobody can take it away from you. In the world we live in now, where technology like podcasts are becoming more popular, and history podcasts in particular are hitting their stride, there has never been a better time to begin. Consider a history podcast like the equivalent to a long and storied publishing record, with the key difference being that unlike one’s academic portfolio, a podcast portfolio is immediately accessible to the public, and demonstrates your commitment to providing learning materials to people of all stages of knowledge.

That’s not to say that this is charity – trust me when I say, that the more you put in the more your listeners will give out. What is undeniable about history podcasting is that it requires you learn a certain set of skills, skills which any employer would be lucky to have. Communication, research, writing, self-promotion, time management: these are just a few of the skills which history podcasting has enabled me to hone. Without them, I would be less prepared for my career, but I would also be less confident and less knowledgeable. I would not have any single quality which makes me stand out from the crowd, just a whole load of enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. History podcasting helps you channel that enthusiasm, it helps you invest into something which provides a solid return that you can point to, talk about, put on your CV and say ‘I made that, and people loved it.’ Even if this never leads to employment, nobody can say that that is not worthwhile.

And over to you

Have I inspired you to start your own podcast? Maybe I have inspired you to dig deeper and investigate exactly what a history podcast is before you go any further, or how you would get started if you were interested. Maybe, on the other hand, all I’ve done is make you believe that there’s more than one way to get to a certain destination. If my story is proof of anything, it is that the straightforward path isn’t always for you, but that that doesn’t mean the journey isn’t worth taking in the end. If you want to get there, you will get there, and along the way, you will depend upon good people, learn a whole lot about yourself, and make some incredible works which people like you and unlike you will enjoy. Don’t be put off by a ‘no’ - a no is just a ‘not right now’, it is not a definitive strike against your plans or dreams. If that was the case, there would have been no PLC, no UCD, no guest lecture, no publishing deal, no podcast, no researching jobs, no lecturing job, NOTHING. But yet, there is all of this, because I learned to keep at it. God, people I love and my own inherent stubbornness did the rest.

For those curious enough to learn more about history podcasting – the ‘dos’, the ‘don’ts’ and the ‘are you insane?’ aspects of it – I would like to point you towards the History Podcasting Platform and past blog posts right here on this site if that is the case, where you’ll find a wealth of material designed specifically to help the aspiring history podcasting begin his/her journey. If you have any other questions at all, please do not hesitate to get in touch. And if you’re a history graduate looking at this right now and thinking ‘sounds great, but I don’t really have anything to contribute’, then I would say WRONG! Everyone is valuable, and what could be more valuable than something made for free out of the love of this crazy subject we call history? Everyone has to start somewhere, but I can assure you that this is a journey you won’t regret beginning. I’m a better teacher, a better historian and a better man because of When Diplomacy Fails. So whatever story you might create, I can’t wait to listen in.


Zack Twamley is a podcaster, author and lecturer, and has been podcasting for over six years. He’s been obsessed with history for far longer, and he rarely if ever takes himself very seriously as a result. His podcast When Diplomacy Fails boasts nearly five million downloads, and his content has been heard all across the world, because he had the passion to push and make it happen. Do you? If Zack had taken no for an answer in 2010, you wouldn’t know his name, and you wouldn’t be reading this right now. If you’ve made it all the way to the end of this large blog post, then he thanks you. Why not share Zack’s story and spread a bit of cheer around our sometimes dark world? He’ll be grateful you did! (he says thankssss!)