header image

"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


Writers Trust of Canada: Shaughnessy Cohen Prize, Political Writing Finalist

Video: The Six Months that Changed the World

MacMillan talks about her book Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World

Video: Margaret MacMillan, The War that Ended Peace

MacMillan discusses her new book The War that Ended Peace with DPhil student Katherine Brooks

Video: Margaret MacMillan, Nixon in China

MacMillan discusses her book Nixon in China: The Week That Changed the World

Video: Margaret MacMillan, The Uses and Abuses of History

MacMillan joins Allan Gregg to talk about her book The Uses and Abuses of History


MacMillan tells Steve Paikin why Europe's major powers made decisions that resulted in The Great War.

Video: Margaret MacMillan, CSPAN, The War that Ended Peace

MacMillan talks about her book The War that Ended Peace


In her own words Professor MacMillan explains her body of work and academic research. (Podcast)


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.

History's People Book Cover

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

Portland State of Mind: Does History Matter?

October 12 - 2017, 5:00 - 6:30 pm

Lincoln Recital Hall (LH), room 75, 1620 SW Park Ave.

Cost: Free and open to the public

History can be dangerous. Oversimplified and one-sided stories from the past can be used to stir up resentments and grievances, mobilize hatreds, support unreasonable claims, and justify attacks on others. Yet we need good history to help us make sense of our world and where it might be headed. History is key to understanding the motives, the hopes and the fears of others and, equally important, ourselves. Knowledge of the past is also helpful for decision makers because it offers instructive analogies and warnings of potentially dangerous outcomes.


Cecil H. and Ida Green Visiting Professor

Making Historical Sense of War

October 14 - 2017, 8:15 - 9:30 pm

Vancouver Institute Lecture

The Meaning of the Great War

Lecture Hall No. 2, Woodward Instructional

Resources Centre, UBC

Cost: Free and open to the public

A century later we are still puzzling about the Great War. Why and how did it start? Why did it last so long? What are its lasting legacies? The war, which started in Europe, drew in much of the world. It consumed millions of lives and huge resources. It destroyed four empires, shook European civilization, and changed the international order. This lecture looks at those questions and assesses how and in what ways the war changed the world.


Cecil H. and Ida Green Visiting Professor

Making Historical Sense of War

October 17 - 2017, 5:00 - 6:30 pm, reception to follow

Green College Special Lecture

Historians and War: Assessing Causes and Consequences

Coach House, Green College, UBC

Resources Centre, UBC

Cost: Free and open to the public

Too often the history of war has been seeing as a limited, clearly defined branch of historical inquiry, the preserve of military historians more interested in battles, logistics or strategy than in social and cultural history. Yet war is deeply woven into human society and the relationship should be understood as a two-way one. The nature of particular societies—from values to political and social organization—affects the ways in which they approach and fight wars, while engagement in war can bring great change. This talk will examine such issues as how wars start and end, how we understand the experiences of those engaged in war, and how we assess the impact of war. It will also look at the perennial tension between the great forces shaping the past and the role and place of the individual.


The 2018 Roskill Lecture: Margaret MacMillan

January 31, 2018

Wolfson Hall, Churchill College

Storeys Way

Cambridge, England

Cost: Free and open to the public

Margaret MacMillan will reflect on the meaning and significance of the Great War from the perspective of today: what it meant to Western civilization and to the world more broadly, and how we remember and commemorate it in our own time.


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?

Back to top