History's People: Personalities and the Past by Margaret MacmillanHistory's People: Personalities and the Past by Margaret Macmillan

History's People: Personalities and the Past

byMargaret Macmillan

Hardcover | September 8, 2015

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Part of the CBC Massey Lectures Series

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.

MARGARET MACMILLAN is the author of the international bestsellers The War that Ended Peace, Nixon in China and Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World, which won the Governor General's Literary Award and the Samuel Johnson Prize. She is also the author of The Uses and Abuses of History. The past provost of Trinity College at the ...
Title:History's People: Personalities and the PastFormat:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 8 × 5.25 × 1.11 inPublished:September 8, 2015Publisher:House Of Anansi Press IncLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1487000057

ISBN - 13:9781487000059

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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Nothing Special I did not gind anything special about this book. Small sections on different people in history. I could have looked each one of them up in Wikopaedia. I suppose it is however more convenient to have them all in one place.
Date published: 2017-04-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Chatty, Accessible and Captivating This book’s focus is on various people from history – mostly of the past couple of centuries but some from much earlier. The book has five chapters, each of which centers on a particular human characteristic. The lives of some key people in history who have demonstrated this particular trait are examined – some quite extensively while others rather briefly. The people that are discussed include politicians, explorers, monarchs, dictators as well as others; many are ordinary people who have made a difference in the world or who have simply left a useful written record of parts of their lives and times. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. However, I did find one sentence to be rather misleading at best. The author states (page 3) “If Albert Einstein had not grasped the nature of the atom early in the twentieth century, could the allies have developed the atomic bomb during the Second World War?” As far as I know, Einstein did not decipher any properties of the atom that could have led to the atomic bomb. That was the work mainly of Rutherford and Bohr and, later, Hahn, Strassman, Meitner, Frisch, Fermi and others. Einstein’s early twentieth century work focused on space and time (relativity), Brownian motion, mass-energy equivalence and the photoelectric effect; nothing about atomic structure or nuclear energy or anything that could have led to the atomic bomb. As indicated, the author’s prose is very chatty, friendly and accessible. It appears to have been written for the interested general reader and so is without the usual jargon that one often finds in more formal works. This book should be of interest to those who have anywhere from a casual to a passionate interest in history and want to read about some of its people – well-known and lesser-known - through a relaxed and friendly prose.
Date published: 2015-11-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Delicious Invitation to the Study of History 'If history is 'a feast', as Margaret MacMillan puts it, 'the savour comes from its people'. Indeed, MacMillan's 'People' should be a required 'dish' for anyone interested in the study of history not only because of the fascinating personalities she discusses, but because of the way she does it. In short, her writing is lucid, engaging, and scholarly without being elitist or conceding. Much ink has been spilt discussing Bismarck, FDR, Hitler, Stalin or Thatcher, but rarely has reading about them been so much 'fun (this, of course, is not a judgment about their actions). Moreover, apart from these historical giants which she categorizes by their personality traits, Macmillan adds a wonderful homage to the less know figures in Canadian history, intrepid women explorers, and a concluding tribute to select diary keepers who make the study of history not only more interesting, but often possible. One final note. No, MacMillan does not deny the importance of larger political, economic, or social forces which, as it were, 'make' history, but she suggests that it is the specific personalities of the aforementioned people that resulted in their seizing power and inflicting such powerful historical shifts. This is history par excellence from an excellent historian and a writer.
Date published: 2015-11-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Indigo Staff Pick Margaret Macmillan gives us a peek at men and women who stand out in history. She shows us these history makers as wonderfully and horribly human, with all the strengths and failings of us all. The condensed biographies focus on particular qualities of these historical figures. Leaders, risk takers, and observers all have a place in history, and for better or for worse, all have shaped our world. An engaging and erudite commentary. This book is a fascinating read.
Date published: 2015-08-10

Editorial Reviews

"A concise, educational overview of some of the men and women who have carved out spots in the annals of history and why they should be remembered. Fans of the author are in for another treat." - Kirkus"MacMillan deftly and engagingly shows that history is a process of capturing the minutiae of life as much as time's epic strokes." - Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW"She is one of those rare scholars who can write for a larger audience without becoming bogged down in academic jargon. In her latest book, MacMillan shows this talent again in five absorbing lectures about a wide range of historical actors-from Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin to Samuel Champlain and Elizabeth Simcoe-offering insight into their personal motivations and historical significance. With the federal election campaign underway, the party leaders could help themselves by heeding MacMillan's words of wisdom." - Allan Levine, National Post"MacMillan draws on an astonishing well of scholarship.The house of history is vast, and as the Massey Lectures come to a close, two voices sound a very different, and more urgent, note: the observers Harry Kessler, born in 1868, the wealthy son of a German banker, and Viktor Klemperer, born in 1881, a German-Jewish professor in Dresden. Through their diaries, Kessler and Klemperer attempt to keep hold of their particular way of observing and thinking, which is to say, their souls. MacMillan powerfully recreates the era; she brings to life not simply their personalities, but their personhood." - Globe and Mail"Through this series of lectures, MacMillan demonstrates in rich and provocative detail, how history is an important tool for understanding our own world - as well as the world of others." - The History Eduation Network"this book is an inspiring one, and the lives of the people included have lessons for all of us." - Dave Obee, Victoria Times Colonist"Margaret MacMillan rightly is a darling of Canadian letters, an acclaimed historian of international stature, a superb writer and author of several award-winning bestsellers. Her talents and intellect are so formidable she can do no professional wrong -- if she writes something it is worth reading, no question. This has been true of everything she has turned her mind to, and it is true of her latest work, History's People.the stories -- in the end is what is so richly rewarding about reading History's People. If the personal stories command MacMillan's interest, it goes without saying that they will command the attention of her readers, too." - Gerald Flood, Winnipeg Free Press"wonderful. History's People urges us to see the past in another way. MacMillan has provided us with a brilliantly guided tour through a dramatic and emotionally penetrating account of the human beings who by accident or design (and often through the luck of good timing) created the world we live in. She encourages us to see the human qualities, the frailties and passions of men and women who make history. Many readers of MacMillan's book will want to give a copy to young people whose brains have been deadened by textbooks." - Robert Fulford, National Post"Margaret MacMillan doesn't just document the past; she brings it to life" - Readers' Digest"Avoiding arid timelines, MacMillan, an Oxford professor , instead provides intimate human encounters. She seems to love sifting through the revealing details. "I want to gossip," she confesses - and so do we." - New York Times Book Review"History's People is a refreshing perspective on history as a discipline and on people both well-known and obscure. This, coupled with MacMillan's magnificent ability to take the most complex issue and render it clearly, is what makes the book such an engaging read. MacMillan has proven that her love of gossip only adds to her credentials as an historian, and one can only hope that she continues to find further subjects to write about for a long time to come." - Qull and Quire, STARRED REVIEW"[History's People] very enjoyably explores how individuals not only make history, but also record it." - Toronto Star"MacMillan's passion for the subject is clear and will certainly be passed on to anyone who reads this book." - Parry Sound North Star"History comes alive when Margaret MacMillan writes it, and here she gives readers her own selection of people of the past, ranging from Franklin Delano Roosevelt to Samuel de Champlain." - Vancouver Sun"It's a rare history book that makes it to the top of the charts, and this collection of profiles is definitely in its own class. MacMillan is a friendly but intelligent writer. Her profiles are interesting and they keep you reading, but they're also chock full of details and historical information that place these personalities in history." - Vancouver Sun