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While we wait: favorite historical figures?


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Hey all,

 

The combination of waiting for decisions and a very slow week at work have left me feeling a bit history-bereft, so I thought it might be fun to start a thread to share titbits of history we know and love - who knows, it might even be educational! So: who are your favorite historical figures, and why?

 

(Yes, this might just be a blatant copy of the F*YeahHistoryCrushes Tumblr, shhhhh.) I can start us off:

 

1. Though he's completely and utterly unrelated to my research interests, I can't stop admiring Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the multilingual professor from Bowdoin College, Maine, who used a sabbatical leave to join the Union Army during the Civil War. He eventually rose to the rank of Brigadier General, defending Little Round Top at Gettysburg, nearly dying at Petersburg, and being chosen to accept the surrender of Lee's troops at Appomattox along the way. After the war, he served 4 terms as Governor of Maine, and by the time he retired had taught nearly every subject at Bowdoin except mathematics.

 

Fun facts: his favorite horse during the war was named Charlemagne. And he had a most impressive 'tache.

 

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(Portrait by artist Mort Kunstler, https://mortkunstler.com/)

 

2. And, on another note, a fabulous man - or, at least, a fabulous name - which did pop up in the course of my research: one of the main judges in the High Court of Admiralty during the reign of Elizabeth I was named... Sir Julius Caesar. I kid you not. I have his signature. Many times over.  :D

Edited by akacentimetre
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My favorite figures wax and wane more than the moon but I will always read about...

1) Stalin- I have no idea why, but I find the man fascinating. He's not particularly related to my field but I do love him.

2) Jackie Kennedy- another non-topical figure for me. For me it's her ability to pick up pieces and stay calm and collected and always, always classy.

And lastly... 3) authors in general. Give me an Oscar Wilde or a Jane Austen biography anyday and I'm a happy girl. :P

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thayendanegea aka Joseph Brant. Sachem of the Mohawk, Captain in the British Army, and interpreter for the British Indian Agency. Brant worked tirelessly to exact a peaceful resolution between United States and the Indian Confederacy that rose up to challenge incursions onto their lands. He was truly amazing.

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  • 1 month later...

Theodore Roosevelt, by a long shot. He held bare-knuckle boxing matches in the White House lawn, stepped down as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to fight as a soldier at San Juan Hill, won Nobel Peace Prize (ended a war that America wasn't even in) AND Medal of Honor, continued to give speech after being shot in the chest, and earned the pimp-slapping name of the "Trust Buster."

 

1.) Teddy 

2.) Everyone else

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1) See my photo. Call me crazy but I think ole Hal is freakin awesome.

2) Thomas More- the more I learn about him, the more interesting I find him, particularly his views on education.

3) Shakespeare (are we seeing a trend?...and yes, early modern England is my specialisation). Cause he's Shakespeare.

4) Peter the Great. The dude was awesome. He dabbled in dentistry, built ships himself, threw wild parties where they drank all day and still woke up earlier than everyone else to go back to work - how could he NOT be fascinating?

5) Oscar Wilde. How brilliant but how tragic the latter part of his life was.

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Theodore Roosevelt, by a long shot. He held bare-knuckle boxing matches in the White House lawn, stepped down as Assistant Secretary of the Navy to fight as a soldier at San Juan Hill, won Nobel Peace Prize (ended a war that America wasn't even in) AND Medal of Honor, continued to give speech after being shot in the chest, and earned the pimp-slapping name of the "Trust Buster."

 

1.) Teddy 

2.) Everyone else

 

Agreed. Teddy Roosevelt is certainly badass.

 

But Benjamin Franklin comes second for me.

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1) Robert Maynard Hutchins-- president of the University of Chicago who disbanded their football program and instituted a mandatory classical Core Curriculum

2) Ovid-- that saucy bastard, he makes me laugh

3) Eleanor of Aquitaine-- she's just my favorite

4) Oscar Wilde, be still my heart!

5) as much as I like Teddy, Wilson takes my heart for being such a PhD nerd from Princeton who loved to remark on people's not being educated enough.

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Favorite folks:

 

1) Winston Churchill - perfect leader for WWII Britain, and witty as hell

2) Shakespeare - no one more poetic or insightful, in my opinion

3) Sir/St. Thomas More - what an amazingly principled man

 

Infamous folks I study and/or find fascinating:

 

1) Heinrich Himmler - founder of the Lebensborn program (my specific topic of study) and all-around horrible person

2) Adolf Hitler - because...well, he's Hitler :(

3) Jack the Ripper - would be amazing if someone could solve that mystery someday

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She reemerges post defense!

Okay, I will weigh in on this.

1. Earl Warren.......read this and you won't be surprised: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl_Warren

2. Louis I. Kahn.........my favorite architect but not my favorite person........have you seen the documentary My Architect?

3. Jimmy Carter........not high on the rankings of presidents but a man of principle and strong moral conviction

4. Richard M. Nixon........the anti-Jimmy Carter......but a true visionary domestically and internationally

That list should raise some hackles...

Edited by Wicked_Problem
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Zhou Enlai. He always seems like such a conflicted figure. On the one hand, he seems the CCP figure most consistently interested in the good of the nation at large. On the other hand, being in a position to do so (and not being killed or purged in the process) required remaining on the good side of an increasingly radical and dogmatic Mao, or at least proving himself too indispensable to be removed. Reading Chinese political histories, I always have this image in my head of Mao directing policy pronouncements and Zhou in the background thinking, "O hell, well how am I going to make this work?" Plus his diplomatic grace and soft touch at Bandung were legendary. That somehow the death of PRC's quietest, most practically minded leader at the end of the Cultural Revolution became the rallying cry for reformism only adds to the appeal.

Edit: Also a damn fine looking man in his younger days.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/ce/Premier_Zhou_1919.jpg/220px-Premier_Zhou_1919.jpg

Edited by bryan.jenkins
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I took a class this semester called Great Personalities of WWII, where each student becomes the class expert on a personality. I chose Heinz Guderian, creator of blitzkrieg, and he's become one of my favorites. 

 

Patton was quite the character, too. 

 

But #1 lately has been Churchill. Everything I've read about him has been brilliant. 

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1) See my photo. Call me crazy but I think ole Hal is freakin awesome.

2) Thomas More- the more I learn about him, the more interesting I find him, particularly his views on education.

3) Shakespeare (are we seeing a trend?...and yes, early modern England is my specialisation). Cause he's Shakespeare.

4) Peter the Great. The dude was awesome. He dabbled in dentistry, built ships himself, threw wild parties where they drank all day and still woke up earlier than everyone else to go back to work - how could he NOT be fascinating?

5) Oscar Wilde. How brilliant but how tragic the latter part of his life was.

 

 Right! How many people have a boat as a child and can be so epic that the boat itself is a piece of national pride and treasure

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  • 2 months later...

My personal list is slightly Eurocentric but growing up these were the minds that influenced me the most

 

1. Niccolo Machiaveli

2. Otto, furst von Bismarck

3. Thomas Sankara

4. Edmund Burke

5. Dwight D. Eisenhower

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mine is from the region i come from, Iran.

1.khayyam, his poems are fantastic, you just love the carpe diem message in them

2. edward said, the first book i read and liked when i entered undergrad

3. sam huntington: i like him because i hate him, such a naive guy1

4.Thomas Kuhn: i will always be fascinated by his paradigms!

5.Joschka" Fischer! dont know, just like him

 

not much middle eastern after all!

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mine is from the region i come from, Iran.

1.khayyam, his poems are fantastic, you just love the carpe diem message in them

2. edward said, the first book i read and liked when i entered undergrad

3. sam huntington: i like him because i hate him, such a naive guy1

4.Thomas Kuhn: i will always be fascinated by his paradigms!

5.Joschka" Fischer! dont know, just like him

 

not much middle eastern after all!

 

What do you  mean by Huntington being naive?

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What do you  mean by Huntington being naive?

 

well if some one knows the islamic world even at its surface, they would never generalize it as one big whole. its actually composed of fragments, some big and others smaller., shiites, sunnis, salafis, esmailis they would never come under one umbrella because of the power diffrentials in the region e.g. KSA Iran rivalry and their proxies. now why would some one consider this puzzle as a whole and put it against the west? such thing is with bernard lewis, the man who started the two wars and hasnt been in the ME for the past 30 years!

anyways, if one wants to know islam from a more unbiased view, he should look in john esposito i think.

 

btw, sorry all for the off-topic, just wanted to answer the question.

Edited by 30rus
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well if some one knows the islamic world even at its surface, they would never generalize it as one big whole. its actually composed of fragments, some big and others smaller., shiites, sunnis, salafis, esmailis they would never come under one umbrella because of the power diffrentials in the region e.g. KSA Iran rivalry and their proxies. now why would some one consider this puzzle as a whole and put it against the west? such thing is with bernard lewis, the man who started the two wars and hasnt been in the ME for the past 30 years!

anyways, if one wants to know islam from a more unbiased view, he should look in john esposito i think.

 

btw, sorry all for the off-topic, just wanted to answer the question.

 

Oh I don't think it was off topic and I agree with your overall point ... but in defense of Huntington he was saying that different regions were going to have some common link .... and in the case of the "Islamic world" it was the common theme of Islam ... now would you consider Nigeria part of the Ummah (I mean they are part of the OIC) or would you consider Turkey? All that plays to your point but he was making a simple point so I say we cut him some slack :)

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