Aaron Cripps’ Fab Five: A Childhood Favorite, a Specter, a Pope & More

DuGardePeach-AlfredHello, like our host my name is Aaron and I’d like to thank him for inviting us to contribute to his Fab Five series. I write a blog, Europeenses which nominally traces the route of a long distance cycle tour through parts of North-West and Central Europe that I had intended to make this year. Changing circumstances meant that I’m not able to make the tour but as I’d already started to research and draft entries I decided to go ahead with the blog anyway. In it, I write about historical events that relate to the towns, cities, or regions I’m theoretically passing through, with a handful of short biographies, regional recipes, and other pieces thrown in for good measure. Just over two months in I find myself not that far from reaching the end of the ‘journey’, which means I’ll have to rethink the purpose of my blog. Luckily Europe has a lot of history and connections with every part of the world, so I shouldn’t have too much of a problem.

Currently I work as a Librarian at the UK’s Joint Services Command and Staff College Library, which allows me to indulge my interest in history on a regular basis. Some of the Library’s archive collection has been digitized, so if you’re interested in World War One Tanks, The Independent Bombing Force of 1918, Operation Sealion, or Operation Overlord, you may like to take a look at some scanned documents from our archive. For my five I’ve chosen a person whose writing influenced my love of history, a person whose writing influenced history, a person who was influenced by that writing, a person who worked to end that influence, and finally a person whose actions didn’t ultimately influence history, but who nonetheless played an important role.

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Undine’s Fab Five: One of the Greats of American Literature, a Pair of Conspirators & More

Edgar Allan Poe in an original daguerreotype taken by Edwin H. Manchester, 1848.

Edgar Allan Poe in an original daguerreotype taken by Edwin H. Manchester, 1848.

This is the seventh part in our weekly Fab Five Series, where I ask other bloggers, writers, podcasters and friends to give their five favorite historical figures. The criteria is up to them…so is the work!

Undine here. I am the author of the blogs Strange Company and the World of Edgar Allan Poe. I love history, particularly in all its odder manifestations, and I love making lists, so the Great Yesterday Unhinged Challenge was virtually irresistible to me.

I used no particular “rule” in selecting my personal Historical Fab Five. These are all very different people who, for their own differing reasons, happened to arouse my curiosity, endear themselves to me, impart important lessons to me…or simply amuse me. In one way or another, they’ve all meant something vital in my life.

So, let the parade begin!

1. Edgar Allan Poe. He is more than a great writer, he is a great thinker, who is sadly underrated as a scientific philosopher. His more esoteric writings, such as “The Domain of Arnheim” and “Ulalume” contain spiritual insights that are both profound and, once you grasp what he is trying to communicate, easily accessible. He was not a writer who talked “down” to his audience; rather, he sought to bring us up to his level. And “Eureka” is the only book I have ever read that has truly helped me make some sort of sense out of this seemingly utterly nonsensical universe of ours. For that alone, I will always feel a deep sense of gratitude towards him. On a merely aesthetic level, he wrote some of the most musical, bewitching poetry and prose works in modern English, and his critical insights played a key role in the development of American literature.

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Jenny Bennett’s Fab Five: An Amateur Who Changed The Skies, The Definition of Incompetence & More

Luke Howard, by John Opie, date unknown.

Luke Howard, by John Opie, date unknown.

This is the sixth part in our weekly Fab Five Series, where I ask other bloggers, writers, podcasters and friends to give their five favorite historical figures. The criteria is up to them…so is the work!

Hello, I’m Jenny Bennett. A long-time blogger, I’ve just launched a new blog called “1870 to 1918”. This gives me the chance to delve into a fascinating period when the world’s major European empires swelled to their largest expanse, only to come to crisis and cataclysm in the First World War. It takes off from posts about the Boer War on my eclectic “Endless Streams and Forests” blog, which veers wildly from hiking to history and many other topics.

As you’ll see, my Fab Five people are not all people I admire. There are so many I could name that I have to admit the following five are simply ones that popped into my head this morning.

Luke Howard (1772 – 1864): Amateur meteorologist known for coming up with the classification of clouds into cumulus, stratus, and cirrus in his work Essay on the Modification of Clouds. Why is this so interesting to me? Because it was based on gazing at the sky, not performing any rigorous experiment, and yet his categories have such a rightness about them that they will likely be used indefinitely. His observations about the shifting shapes in the sky were an inspiration to the poet Goethe.

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Richard Shephard’s Fab Five: The First Computer Programmer, The Father of Science Fiction & More

Watercolor portrait of Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (Ada Lovelace). By Alfred Edward Chalon, 1840.

Watercolor portrait of Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (Ada Lovelace). By Alfred Edward Chalon, 1840.

This is the fifth part in our weekly Fab Five Series, where I ask other bloggers, writers, podcasters and friends to give their five favorite historical figures. The criteria is up to them…so is the work!

My name is Richard Shepherd. I’m interested in history in general and the Victorian age in particular. I chose my 5 historical figures because they were not typical of the society they lived in. Some rebelled against racism, sexism or the religious views of the time. Others were concerned with what wonders the future might bring, and how to make it happen. I can be found on Twitter as @rshepherd1964.
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Ada Lovelace (10 December 1815 – 27 November 1852) worked with Charles Babbage while he was developing his analytical engine. He saw it as a replacement for the inaccurate tables used by the financial system. She predicted that in the future similar devices would be useful not only in finance but also science and the arts, possibly even being used to create music. Today she is often thought of as the world’s first computer programmer. If Babbage had built his engine using Ada Lovelace’s operating system, what technology would we be using today?

Fab Five Series – Sean Munger’s Version: Dinner with the GenSek, the Sage of Monticello and More

General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev speaking at a news conference in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1986. Permission via Commons: RIA Novosti

General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev speaking at a news conference in Reykjavik, Iceland, in 1986.
Permission via Commons: RIA Novosti

This is the fourth part in our weekly Fab Five Series, where I ask other bloggers, writers, podcasters and friends to give their five favorite historical figures. The criteria is up to them…so is the work!

I’m Sean Munger, a historian, teacher and author. I wrote the historical horror novel Zombies of Byzantium and I run a lot of history-related articles on my website, seanmunger.com. Big thanks to Aaron for letting me participate in the “Fab Five” series, which seemed like a lot of fun from the moment I heard about it! I’ve been fascinated by history for as long as I can remember. After spending years as a lawyer, I chose history as my second career, and I’m very happy to have made the choice.

My selection criteria for my “Fab Five” historical figures is pretty loose and undefined: people from history I’d most like to meet and have dinner with. It may be because of their own accomplishments, their own opinions and personality, or perhaps just the time they lived in. It’s so hard to narrow it down just to five, and if you asked me on any other day my list would probably be very different. But, at the time of this writing, here’s who I would enjoy meeting

The GenSek: Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the USSR.

The only figure on my list who’s still alive, I’m astounded that Gorbachev doesn’t have more historical cachet in the world than he does. I believe Mikhail Gorbachev is one of the most important figures of the 20th century. He was incisive, innovative, and brave enough to seize the bull of history by the horns and do what he could to guide it, regardless of his own risks. Coming to power in the period of Soviet stagnation, Gorbachev recognized that the USSR had to modernize and reform, and he was willing to accept the thankless job of doing that amidst a government and power structure filled with spineless apparatchiks. Furthermore, the personal relationships he formed with Western leaders—Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, George Bush—became the basis of lasting change in the world and indeed a more peaceful order. If I had dinner with Gorbachev I would ask him when and how he decided upon his course of reform and whether he suspected it might lead, as it eventually did, to the collapse of the Soviet Union. I’d also ask him about what he thinks of the course Russian and world history have taken since he exited the stage (for the most part) in 1991. I think this would be a really fascinating conversation.

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Sharyn Eastaugh’s Fab Five: An Inept Ruler, a Leper, Raymond of Tripoli, a Knight and a Ragged Hermit

Peter the Hermit leads the Peasants Crusade. Date and artist unknown.

Peter the Hermit leads the Peasants Crusade. Date and artist unknown.

This is the third part in our weekly Fab Five Series, where I ask other bloggers, writers, podcasters and friends to give their five favorite historical figures. The criteria is up to them…so is the work!

Hello! I’m Sharyn Eastaugh and I write and present a weekly podcast series, the History of the Crusades.  You can find the podcast on iTunes or at historyofthecrusades@podomatic.com or at historyofthecrusades.webs.com.  You can follow me on Twitter via @historycrusades and you can also like the History of the Crusades Facebook page.  I became a podcaster pretty much by accident.  I had listened to and thoroughly enjoyed Mike Duncan’s podcast The History of Rome, and I had purchased a book on the Crusades, intending to listen to a podcast on the subject, while I read along.  To my surprise and disappointment, I discovered there weren’t any podcasts about the Crusades.  In a moment of madness, I decided to take a shot at doing one myself.  That was nearly 18 months ago and now podcasting has become an all-consuming obsession.  Right!  Enough about me!  Want to know who my 5 favourite Crusaders are?  Read on…

1. Peter the Hermit

It’s hard to go past Peter the Hermit.  You just don’t see people like him nowadays.  Scruffy, dressed in rags, barefooted and using a donkey as his preferred means of transport, Peter also possessed the knack of galvanising the common person with his passionate speeches.  He managed to convince tens of thousands of men, women and children to march to the Holy Land and to their ultimate doom, in the ill-fated Peasant’s Crusade.  Why do I like him?  Well, for being such an iconic figure of the Middle Ages for one, and also for the way he kept popping up unexpectedly in the narrative.  But, to be honest, I’m not sure I’d actually want to meet him.  He’s not really someone I’d like to sit down and have lunch with.

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Robert Horvat’s Fab Five : TE Lawrence, a PM, an Honest Man, Schindler & a Jedi

TE Lawrence. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

TE Lawrence. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This is the second part of my Fab Five series, where I ask other bloggers, writers, podcasters and friends to give their five favorite historical figures. The criteria is up to them…so is the work! First up is Robert, blogger and friend of the site. You can check out Robert’s work on two of my favorite blogs, If It Happened Yesterday, It’s History and The History of the Byzantine Empire.

I would firstly like to apologise to my gracious host by saying that I found it really difficult to narrow my initial historical figures list down to five. I had covered one end of history to the other and just simply couldn’t decide. I finally decided to settle on a period in history that was most relevant to me and that has had an effect on my life. My list below could easily be different again tomorrow. At least another five could, without a doubt, be substituted depending on my mood. However, I am happy with my choices and please allow me to present my five favourite historical figures of the twentieth century.

T.E Lawrence

David Lean’s epic motion picture first introduced me to the man and myth of Lawrence of Arabia. T.E Lawrence symbolized everything I wanted to be as a kid, an archeologist, adventurer and a reluctant hero. Oh how dreams are fun! His legend had obviously grown over the passage of time, but no one can begrudge or deny his influence in Middle Eastern affairs. His decision to stand up for the underdog (Arab revolt), during and after the Great War have had a profound effect on the 20th century (whether we realize it or not)!

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