Personalities and the PasteBook - 2015
In History’s People internationally acclaimed historian Margaret MacMillan gives her own personal selection of figures of the past, women and men, some famous and some little-known, who stand out for her. Some have changed the course of history and even directed the currents of their times. Others are memorable for being risk-takers, adventurers, or observers. She looks at the concept of leadership through Bismarck and the unification of Germany; William Lyon MacKenzie King and the preservation of the Canadian Federation; Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the bringing of a unified United States into the Second World War. She also notes how leaders can make huge and often destructive mistakes, as in the cases of Hitler, Stalin, and Thatcher. Richard Nixon and Samuel de Champlain are examples of daring risk-takers who stubbornly went their own ways, often in defiance of their own societies. Then there are the dreamers, explorers, and adventurers, individuals like Fanny Parkes and Elizabeth Simcoe who manage to defy or ignore the constraints of their own societies. Finally, there are the observers, such as Babur, the first Mughal emperor of India, and Victor Klemperer, a Holocaust survivor, who kept the notes and diaries that bring the past to life.
History’s People is about the important and complex relationship between biography and history, individuals and their times.
In this year’s highly anticipated Massey Lectures, internationally acclaimed historian Margaret MacMillan gives her own personal selection of the great figures of the past, women and men, who have changed the course of history and even directed the currents of their times — and sometimes with huge consequences.
She looks at the powerful, hereditary rulers, elected leaders, or generals, whose personalities and decisions made a difference in history, as well the writers, explorers, or thinkers whose voices speak to us across the centuries and whose impact may be more muted. She situates her subjects in their times and explains where they reflected prevailing values and where, like Luther or Marx, they challenged and changed them. Some, like Hitler, Mao, or Stalin, took a particular current in their own times and rode it to power with huge consequences. Using examples drawn from several centuries she examines specific characteristics and emotions, including curiosity, daring, ambition, vision, stubbornness, and integrity, showing how these qualities made a difference.