History’s Leaders: Great Men or Sons of Society?


Eleanor teaches Social Studies to 6th graders and spends the bits of time left over writing books that bring history -- and magic -- to life. She enjoys rock climbing, bullet journaling, & gardening focused on plants you can actually eat.

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6 Responses

  1. Dustin Fife says:

    Loved this. I’ve always enjoyed the books that capitalize on the charisma of one leader and follow said leader’s influence. (Dune and some of the subsequent books comes to mind at first).

    • Eleanor says:

      It’s surprisingly hard to capture in print what makes a charismatic leader so powerful and influential. Dune is a really great example, though. I hadn’t thought to look for example texts, that will help a lot I think.

  2. Kira Kestral says:

    It’s an interesting topic, what makes a great man. And examples abound in history. I see you mentioned Alexander the great and Gengis Khan here, but there are a myriad of other examples too — for example, Pachakuti of the Incan Empire.

    When he came to power, it wasn’t an empire, more like a large city state with a little valley, but under his reign, he conquered the majority of the other countries in the area, from Chimor to Quitu, and expanded the country to create an empire that spanned most of Western South America, a stretch of land longer than Europe. It was all the known land — to them, he’d conquered the whole world. After his death, civil war broke out as his sons fought for power for nearly a decade, destroying the country, the armies, and chipping away at the power of the empire. And then the Spanish showed up, and well, the person in power at the time was no Pachakuti, that’s for sure. >O<

    • Eleanor says:

      It’s a hard thing, I think, to be the son of someone great, particularly if you’re not quite as skilled or talented as they are. We see it sometimes in American politics; John Adams and his son, George Bush and his. But it must be infinitely worse to also be competing with your siblings for the status as someone’s “true” heir. It’s common in many fields — football springs immediately to mind, with Peyton and Eli Manning. But at least in those examples, no one has the power to really break the system: a football rivalry is hardly going to break the league!

  3. Tee says:

    This was a great read. Very well-written and insightful.
    I find Alexander the Great to be an amazing individual for his time since he didn’t just go around conquering, but conquered and then learned from other civilizations and united the people of vastly differing cultures.
    Well done. Thank you!

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