Below, you will find my top five favorite historical figures. This does not have to do with any sort of criteria except that they have piqued my interestes over the yeras. For different reasons, I find each of them of possesses a unique trait and/or a few qualities I respect.
4. Harry S Truman
Our 33rd US President was very unique, indeed. He did not attend college; he was not a legendary general,nor a successful business man. Yet, by staying true to his principles of honesty, loyalty, and hard work, he was able to rise through the ranks of politics to sit at the most powerful position in the world. President Truman steadfastly led us through the end of WWII, the Berlin Airlift, the Korean War, the start of the United Nations, and the beginning of the Cold War. This is an American leader who is often overlooked.
One of the most cunning political figures I have ever studied, Otto von Bismarck helped form Germany into the world power it became by the turn of the 19th century. He enticed France and Austria into wars they could not win, oversaw the unification of Germany, expanded the German empire and established what Hitler would refer to as the Second Reich. Although his nation fell to aggression, I am fascinated by the way Bismarck was able to manipulate Europe and create such a powerful nation so quickly in the modern era.
This monarch of the Indian subcontinent ruled the Maurya Empire during the 3rd century BC. After the Battle of Kalinga in the east of India, Ashoka toured the destruction caused by his conquest. The horrible spectacle made him convert to Buddhism and dedicate his life to uplifting his people. Legend states that Ashoka spent the rest of his reign doing what he could as king to promote Buddhism and improve the lives of his people. His achievements were inscribed on pillars throughout India and still stand there today.
Another extremely shrewd individual, Napoleon created one of the most famous and successful empires of all time. He was a relatively self-made man that rose to power from the chaos of the French Revolution. His military tact and political skill helped him consolidate and expand his empire, but his insatiable ambition intrigues me the most. This desire for greatness made him successful, but it also proved to be his tragic flaw that brought his reign crumbling down.