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"The War That Ended Peace: The Road to 1914'' by Margaret MacMillan: I am only halfway through the book and I don't want to put it down, but occasionally I must if I am to earn a living. On the other hand, when I finish it, I will regret having done so because what I will really want to do is read it again for the first time."

Paul Martin, former prime minister of Canada - Bloomberg


History's People Book Cover

In the 2015 CBC Massey Lectures, renowned historian Margaret MacMillan explores some of the great people - good and bad, dreamers, explorers and adventurers - who have shaped their times and ours. One historian’s view of the people of the past who have intrigued, horrified or engaged her.

Some of these great figures have changed the course of history and even directed the currents of our time. Others are memorable for being risk-takers, adventurers, or observers. Margaret MacMillan 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.

Leaders can also 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.

Upcoming Events

Gorwel and the Lloyd George Society

May 08, 2018 | 6:30 pm

Cost: Free and open to the public

Reardon Smith Lecture Theatre, Cathay's Park, Cardiff, Wales

Professor Macmillan talk will examine David Lloyd George. He was known in his lifetime as The Man Who Won the War and sometimes as the man who lost the peace. This lecture examines both those epithets and tries to assess whether they are a fair description.


Sol & Florence Kanee Distinguished Speaker Series

May 15, 2018 | 5:30 pm

Cost: Free and open to the public

Congregation Shaarey Zedek, Winnipeg, Canada

Join the Jewish Heritage Centre as we present Prof. Margaret MacMillan, internationally acclaimed Canadian historian and author of Paris 1919, at the 13th annual Sol and Florence Kanee Distinguished Speaker Series on Sunday April 15th. This is a not to be missed opportunity. Please call Ilana Abrams at the JHC office at (204)478-8590 to order tickets.


Big Thinking, 87th annual Congress of the Humanities

and Social Sciences

May 27 27, 2018 | 12:15 pm

Cost: Free and open to the public

University of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

. Join Margaret MacMillan as she analyzes the tangled history of war and society and our complicated feelings towards it and towards those who fight. This lecture will explore the ways in which changes in society have affected the nature of war and how in turn wars have changed the societies that fight them, including the ways in which women have been both participants in and objects of war.


BBC Reith Lectures


BBC Radio 4 has announced today that the eminent historian Professor Margaret MacMillan will be the BBC Reith Lecturer in the 70th year of the series, delivering five lectures in the Summer 2018 which will explore the relationship between humanity and war.

Margaret MacMillan is an Emeritus Professor of International History at Oxford University and Professor of History at the University of Toronto, and is known to listeners for her Radio 4 history programmes including the 43-part series, 1914 Day By Day and most recently Europeans – Roots of Identity. Her Reith Lectures - entitled The Mark of Cain - will explore the tangled history of war and society and our complicated feelings towards it and towards those who fight.


Festival of Writing and Ideas

June 8-10, 2018 | TBC

Cost: TBC

Borris House, Kilkenny, Ireland

Festival of Writing & Ideas will mark its seventh year in 2018, promising a weekend of stimulating dialogue and discourse, gathering together intriguing international minds from all over the world and inviting them to Borris Village for a few days. Many are writers, but artists, film-makers, political commentators, musicians, architects, and regular people who have experienced the extraordinary have also graced the stage at Borris.



The Guardian

"Don't ask me who started the war or I'll burst into tears," she says when we meet on the eve of her departure for Canada. I put that question aside, and instead ask what she has made so far of the commemoration. "Some of it has been good," she says. "Historians have been debating it at quite a high level. When the politicians get involved they have their own agendas, and the debate becomes caught up with what they think of Britain today.


The Globe and Mail

The War That Ended Peace is one of five books nominated this year for the $25,000 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing, which will be awarded April 2. The Globe and Mail will feature interviews with each nominated author during the week of March 17. Read an interview with Paul Wells on figuring out what Prime Minister Stephen Harper is thinking or Charles Montgomery on how to make cities that make people happy.


The New York Times

How could a Europe that had been so prosperous and so largely peaceful for so many years, that was basking in a glorious period of trade and technological advance, that was flourishing within a long-established global order, have been thrown — in the course of a month — into the bloodiest conflict the world had then ever seen?

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