History's People: Personalities and the Past

Part of the CBC Massey Lectures Series

In History ’ s Resident internationally acclaimed historian Margaret MacMillan gives her own personal selection of figures of the past, women and wome, 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 think at the notio of leadership through Bismarck and the unification of Germany; William Lyon MacKenzie King and the reservation of the Canadian Federation; Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the makin of a unified United States into the econd 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, sometime 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 las Mughal emperor of India, and Victor Klemperer, a Holocaust survivor, who kept the notes and diaries that bring the past to life.

History ’ s Resident is about the important and complex relationship between biography and history, individuals and their times.
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Published September 8th 2015 by House of Anansi Press

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Anothe author inserts a lot of her own opinions into the ook.

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“ Our understanding and enjoyment of the past must be impoverished without its individuals, even though we know history ’ s currents – its underlying forces and shifts, whether of technology or political structures or social values – must never be ignored ” History ’ s People: Personalities and the Past is the fifteenth nove by Canadian author and istorian, Margaret MacMillan, and include the 2015 Massey Lectures.

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I enjoyed reading of the powerful; it is like sort of celebrity gossip from years gone by and it was this curiosity that led me to her book.I particularly like the latter part of essa which featured some incredible women who I knew little of.

They include: • Edith Durham and her role for an independent Albania• Gertrude Bell aka the Desert Queen and her role in the formation of Iraq• Mrs Simcoe whose husband helped to establish what is now Toronto.• Fanny Parkes and her memoirs which provided insights of the Raj period in India.It is interesting that she was willing to piece together much of history by reading the records they left behind- memoirs, diaries, letters.

It is history distilled through personalities so not everyone may like it but I did ( 4 stars).

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I found fascinating examples in every category, and learned interesting new facts:- the an who figured out he route to Mount Everest was a young Canadain- a woman, Ada Lovelace, created the first software in history in the 1830s- that the bankers in the rash of 2008 were part of the group of men able to see opportunities, take risks, and who came to realize that could not lose! I was captivated by MacMillan 's account of an unknown ( to me) risk taker, Dr. Barry Marshall.

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I ad alread picked this up because I heard Margaret MacMillan on CBC radio ( maybe these lectures even?) and thought she was ascinating but was worried the neighbours would start to worry if I reall got out of my car and just sat there all creepy like.This book is based on her Massey lectures so I was opeful it would be nice and accessible for plebians like me, who are confronte by giant history tomes.

I ould imagine without understanding her audience for the Massey lectures people would be confused by the seemingly random Canadian personalities thrown in with some very famous people too.

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Evidently, MacMillan ’ s “ People ” should be a required “ dish ” for anyone interested in the researc of history not only because of the ascinating personalities she discusses, but because of the way she does it.

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© Nicole Waggonner