Margaret MacMillan

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Margaret MacMillan (born December 23, 1943 in Toronto, Ontario) is a Canadian historian and professor at the University of Oxford. She is former provost of Trinity College, Toronto, and professor of history at the University of Toronto and previously at Ryerson University (now Toronto Metropolitan University). MacMillan is an expert on history and international relations.

MacMillan was the 2018 Reith lecturer, giving five lectures across the globe on the theme of war under the title The Mark of Cain, the tour taking in London, York, Beirut, Belfast, and Ottawa.



The Uses And Abuses Of History (2009)

  • Over the years, historians have tried to discern grand patterns, perhaps one grand pattern, that explain everything.
    • p.15
  • If history is the judge to which we appeal, then it can also find against us. It can highlight our mistakes by reminding us of those who, at other times, faced similar problems but who made different, perhaps better decisions.
    • p.22
  • Dictators, perhaps because they know their own lies so well, have usually realised the power of history. Consequently, they have tried to re-write, deny, or destroy the past.
    • p.22
  • Histories that that show past injustices or crimes can be used to argue for redress in the present.
    • p.55
  • Lost golden ages can be very effective tools for motivating people in the present.
    • p.61
  • Nationalism brought Germany and Italy into being, destroyed Austrio-Hungary, and , more recently, broke apart Yugoslavia. People have suffered and died, and have harmed and killed others, for their 'nation'.
    • p.82
  • We have to be careful to cast our gaze as widely as possible. If we only look for the lessons that reinforce decisions we have already made, we will run into trouble.
    • p.154
  • History does not produce definitive answers for all time. It is a process.
    • p.167
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