Since I’m doing the rounds to promote my newest adult book, Not Quite Dead, and it involves a healthy dose of history (along with mystery, ghosts, romance, family issues, personal issues, and the deep south), I thought I’d run down a list of my favorite historical figures.
Side note: I realize I’m probably a total nerd, even HAVING favorite historical figures, but we are who we are, right?!
10. Rosa Parks: I love when she said “I didn’t mean to start anything. I was just tired of walking to the back of the bus.” Movements can start with a whisper. Fires begin with a spark. The challenge is not always knowing how to set something off, but being ready to dip your torch in and start marching when the time comes.
9. Martin Luther King, Jr: If you believe in something, never, ever stop talking about it. Never give up, never let people scare you into keeping your mouth shut. Some things are worth even the biggest sacrifice.
8. Anne Frank: Not because of what happened to her and her family, but for how she handled it. And because she’s someone who reminds us that we never know when or how or if our dreams will come true – or if we’ll be around to see them realized – but that’s no excuse for not chasing them.
7. Mary Magdalane: At a time where the men surrounding Jesus didn’t get it, Mary got it. The root of what the prophet was trying to say, the enormity of what was about to happen, and the inherent, important, message of love. Amazing woman who didn’t deserve the smear campaign against her that has left her branded as a simple prostitute.
6. Jimmy Stewart: Favorite actor, favorite person – someone who never let Hollywood and fame go to his head. He served in the war when his country needed him, he loved one woman the whole of his life, and in charmed a nation without meaning to. Talk about dreamy.
5. Cleopatra: Talk about a strong woman! Her contemporaries in Rome wanted to lay the whole blame of the demise of the Roman Republic at her feet, but obviously everyone is responsible for their own actions and Caesar and Marc Antony can take their fair share. She was a woman leading an empire in a world where men ruled everything, and I sometimes wonder whether she ever loved either of them as much as she loved her people.
4. Marie Antoinette: I don’t know why I love her, or why I feel so much empathy for her and her family, but it’s there, nonetheless. I think it’s because it’s sad how history judges them so harshly (and they paid such a steep price) for simply being who they were born to be – royalty. They were simply victims of being born in the wrong time, but she wasn’t a bad person, no matter what the history books want to tell us.
3. Andrew Jackson: There are a million and one stories about maybe the only certifiably insane president the United States, and if half of them are true he wasn’t someone you’d ever want to tangle with. My favorite is the letter in which he threatens to shoot a man a second time WITH THE SAME BULLET if he doesn’t stop trying to sue him.
2. Jean Lafitte: The “gentleman pirate of New Orleans,” Lafitte was a sometimes privateer, sometimes pirate, full time charmer that couldn’t quite understand why it was the Americans didn’t love him like he loved them.
1. Titus and Berenice: He was a general in the Roman army (later to become Emperor), she was the Queen of Judea. He led the attack on Jerusalem that resulted in the destruction of the Temple, she tried to save her people, and somewhere in the middle of it all, they fell in love. A real life tragic love story that’s better than anything anyone could dream up. Sigh.
There you go! I encourage you to at least Wikipedia the ones you’re not familiar with – I promise you excellent stories that will melt the hearts of even the most staunch “history haters” in the bunch. J
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