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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.
Margaret MacMillan is the author of the international bestsellers The War that Ended Peace, Nixon and Mao, and Paris 1919, which won the PEN Hessell Tiltman Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize. She is also the author of Dangerous Games. She sits on the boards of the Mosaic Institute and the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The past provost of Trinity College at the University of Toronto, she is now the warden of St. Antony’s College and a professor at Oxford University. She lives in Oxford.