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History's People

History’s People: Personalities and the Past

Margaret MacMillan

In this year’s highly anticipated Massey Lectures, internationally acclaimed historian Margaret MacMillan gives her own personal selection of the memorable figures of the past, women and men, who have changed the course of history and even directed the currents of their times.

The actions of Hitler, Stalin and Thatcher had epic, resounding consequences, but there are other ways to shape the course of history: those like Samuel de Champlain, the dreamers, explorers or adventurers who stand out in history for who they were as much as for what they did; or observers like Michel de Montaigne, who kept the notes and diaries that bring the past to life for us.

History’s People is about the important and complex relationship between biography and history, individuals and their times, and the transformative moments that have shaped the world. 

Listen to the 2015 Massey Lectures on ABC Radio National.


ABC RN interview with Geraldine Doogue
Feature and excerpt in Maclean’s
Margaret MacMillan on understanding the past for the Next Debate
National Post review

Margaret MacMillan
About the Author

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 many major awards including the Samuel Johnson Prize and the PEN Hessell Tiltman Prize. She is also the author of The Uses and Abuses of History. She sits on the boards of the...

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23 September 2015
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Praise for Margaret MacMillan
andHistory’s People

‘MacMillan is a superb writer who can bring history to life.’

‘[Macmillan] is that wonderful combination—an academic and scholar who writes well, with a marvellous clarity of thought.’

‘MacMillan is a master of narrative detail and the telling anecdote.’

‘Stylish, intelligent, insightful, History’s People cements MacMillan’s reputation for both eminence and elegance.’

‘MacMillan deftly and engagingly shows that history is a process of capturing the minutiae of life as much as time’s epic strokes.’

‘Margaret MacMillan persuasively argues [that] history is also very much about the actions, desires, tastes, and whims of people, both the powerful and the powerless…She is one of those rare scholars who can write for a larger audience without becoming bogged down in academic jargon.’

‘[History’s People] continues that mix of accessibility and expertise that’s kept [MacMillan’s] work on bestseller lists.’

‘An insightful and provocative exploration of the lives and influences of memorable people who changed the course of history…Margaret MacMillan has brought a breath of fresh air to foggy dark skies. Serious history buffs will love it. Highly recommended!’

‘MacMillan expands and further illustrates her belief that you can’t understand the past simply be tracing out its blind drivers – economics, ideology, religion. You’ve got to pay attention to the people on the ground, too…By the end of this exhilarating book, you are left wondering whether it is those scholars insisting on an abstracted, impersonal approach to the past who are most at risk of missing the point.’

Other editions ofHistory’s People
  • History's People
    ISBN: 9781922253286
    23 September 2015
    Buy ebook