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“We should not be impressed when our leaders say firmly, "History teaches us" or "History will show that we were right." They can oversimplify and force inexact comparisons just as much as any of us can. Even the clever and the powerful (and the two are not necessarily the same) go confidently off down the wrong paths. It is useful, too, to be reminded, as a citizen, that those in positions of authority do not always know better.”

Margaret MacMillan, The Uses and Abuses of History

Other Titles

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  • A HISTORY'S PEOPLE

    Personalities and the Past

    View Title

    History's People
  • STEPHEN LEACOCK

    Extraordinary Canadians

    View Title

    Stephen Leacock
  • THE USES AND ABUSES OF HISTORY

    National Best Seller

    View Title

    Uses and Abuses
  • NIXON IN CHINA

    The Week that Changed the World

    View Title

    Week that Changed the World
  • PARIS 1919

    Six Months that Changed the World

    View Title

    Six Months that Changed the world
  • WOMEN OF THE RAJ

    The Mothers, Wives and Daughters

    of the British Empire

    View Title

    Women of the Raj
  • Centurion
  • Climbing
  • Cycle West
  • Ice Climbing
  • Hiking
  • Kicking Horse

History's People

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.


First publication date: 2015

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Stephen Leacock

In 1912, Stephen Leacock’s comic masterpiece Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town made him an international star overnight. He was published in magazines and newspapers across Canada and in New York and London. Charlie Chaplin asked him for a screenplay; a young F. Scott Fitzgerald expressed his admiration. Eminent historian Margaret MacMillan argues that, while much of what Leacock satirized in small-town Canada has disappeared, his humour endures. His skewering of pretension and his self-deprecating wit entertained thousands during his heyday, even as it defined a quintessentially Canadian stance. But Leacock, MacMillan points out, was also a public intellectual, engaged with questions about government, war, and a just society. Writing with her usual brio, MacMillan has created a wonderfully insightful and affectionate portrait of a man who mattered.


First publication date: 2009

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Uses and Abuses of History

History is useful when it is used properly: to understand why we and those we must deal with think and react in certain ways. It can offer examples to inform our decisions and guesses about the consequences of our actions. But we should be wary of looking to history for dogmatic lessons.We should distrust those who abuse history when they call on it to justify unreasonable claims to land, for example, or restitution. MacMillan illustrates how dangerous history can be in the hands of nationalistic or religious or ethnic leaders who use it to foster a sense of grievance and a desire for revenge.


First publication date: 2008

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Nixon in China

No relationship is more important in the world today than that between the United States and China. The navel-gazing that characterises discussions of foreign policy in this country and much of Europe takes scant account of the Far East beyond recording China's trade surplus and noting that London's black cabs will soon be made on the mainland. But, quite apart from the economic relationship, the United States is a Pacific power and the balance it strikes with the Middle Kingdom will be key to the evolution of the wider world.


Margaret MacMillan's fine account tells how the relationship between Washington and Beijing was forged in the early 1970s by as unlikely a cast as you could imagine. On the American side was Richard Nixon, the awkward, insecure, one-time red baiter who wanted to make foreign policy the hallmark of his presidency and fixed on the opening to China as his most far-sighted, daring gamble. Beside him lurked Henry Kissinger, determined to use his position as National Security Adviser to make himself a global master diplomatist in the image of his 19th-century heroes, a ruthless player in the Washington corridors of power and devoted to secrecy in amassing power.


First publication date: 2006

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Paris 1919

For six months in 1919, after the end of “the war to end all wars,” the Big Three—President Woodrow Wilson, British prime minister David Lloyd George, and French premier Georges Clemenceau—met in Paris to shape a lasting peace. In this landmark work of narrative history, Margaret MacMillan gives a dramatic and intimate view of those fateful days, which saw new political entities—Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Palestine, among them—born out of the ruins of bankrupt empires, and the borders of the modern world redrawn.


First publication date: 2001

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Woman of the Raj

During Britain's rule of India-the Raj-women were expected to create a replica of British society in the face of almost insuperable difficulties. Exiled to a strange land, surrounded by people whose language, customs, and religion were mysterious and for the most part alien, how did these women react and live? How did they adjust, if at all, to life in bungalows with teams of servants, to repeated moves and heartbreaking separations from their families, to the heat, illness, loneliness, and boredom, to holidays in hill-stations and the unforgettable Indian landscape.


First publication date: 1988

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Water Street

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US

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