Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Notorious Leaders In History

  1. Jul 20, 2005 #1
    I've been reading a rather interesting book about Vlad "The Impaler" Tepes or Vlad Dracula. In the final chapters of the book the author questions whether or not Tepes really deserves the reputation he garnered or if it was mainly spin, politics, and popular fiction which has made him into this icon of evil.

    An even more popular icon would be Hitler, but does Hitler even deserve his reputation? Some people believe that Hitler was a demented genius and that he may have even won the war or at least faired better had he not gone mad and started listening to his astrologers more so than his generals. Some people believed that Hitler was the Antichrist and was the Hister of Nostradomus' quatrains.
    From what I have read though Hitler does not seem to have been very bright. He certainly had a gift for rhetoric and convincing people of his power and brilliance but was he really a genius? Mein Kampff is generally considered an excersize in megalomania with little to no substance (rhetoric?). Hitler often quoted entire chapters worth of Nietzsche's works but doesn't seem to have grasped the concepts (more rhetoric?). Hitler is considered to have done very well for himself in the begining of his campaign, he had several intelligent and accomplished individuals working for him, but as the tide of the war turned Hitler became more and more paranoid and trusted his generals and advisors less and less eventually making aggregous mistakes in all of his decisions. Were these men who worked for Hitler the ones who really devised all of these brilliant military manuevers?
    I've come to think that Hitler has been considered a genius by so many out of egoism. I think that people just don't want to accept the idea that an unintelligent man could have accomplished what Hitler did. To have trampled so much of Europe Hitler must have been a genius right?

    And what about George Bush Jr.? He has already been equated to Hitler. Will he be the next man to go down in history as a notorious leader, and does he really deserve to be equated to such a monsterous icon as Hitler?

    Does anyone else know of any historical figures whom they think may have been overblown by the historians?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 20, 2005 #2

    Astronuc

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Another good book on Dracula - Dracula, Prince of Many Faces: His Life and His Times by Radu R. Florescu and Raymond T. McNally. It would appear that he deserves the reputation he has received.

    Equating Bush to Hitler is not correct, although Bush does appear to show similar sociopathic tendencies. Certainly Bush will be remembered as a notorious leader.
     
  4. Jul 20, 2005 #3
    People actually have to think about that one? OF COURSE ITS SPIN AND POPULAR FICTION, HE'S SUPPOSED TO BE A VAMPIRE!
    Most people don't even know the guy really existed (and technically he didn't)
    The whole astrologer thing is majorly exagerated. The most common example cited, about hitler's failure to act properly during the invasion of D-Day had many factors in it. Such as the poor condition of the defending troops. Biggest one being that the commander in charge (Fritz Todt I think) left the panzer divisions far back from the beeches with the intent of luring the Allied forces in and then enveloping and destroying them. A stupid plan, considering the complete lack of german air support (10-1?) Many tanks were destroyed before seeing battle at all.

    Meh, Some people say that about Bush, Osama, and Napoleon, ect, ect. None of them actually align properly with Nostradomus' quatrains, it's all just popular misconceptions. (it's me)

    Yes, Joseph Goebbells did a good job at perverting one of Germany's most famous philosophers and making him seem like an advocate for Nazism. It was organized propoganda.

    I thought the general consensus about Hitler was that he was a moron and that it was the wehrmacht that won all those victories alone. It's interesting how people like to make generalizations like that.
    Every Historical figure, on the basis that they are historical figures.
    We like to single out people in history and point and say 'it's all because of him' and 'couldn't have happened without this guy'. It makes things simpler if we just equate history with a few specific people rather than talking about societies and trends and geopolitical forces.
     
  5. Jul 20, 2005 #4
    He is actually considered a hero and 'fair' in a nasty sort of way.

    He was invaded at one point so he took every invader who was killed wounded or captured and impaled them on the roads leading into the kingdom. When one of his courtiers complained about the smell, he had him impaled on a post 10 feet higher than the rest so he would be above the smell.

    There is a case of an ambassador comming from another kingdom to visit his court. He refused to remove the religious skull cap (yomulka?) in his presence because it would be an offense to his god. So Vlad Dracule had it nailed to his head so that he might NEVER offend his god by having it 'accidentally fall off'.

    I believe he was actually a Hungarian Prince too ... It was just that Stoker read a tavelogue of Transylvania that had a better and spookier description of a castle in the Carpathian Mountains.
     
  6. Jul 20, 2005 #5
    He was a prince of the country of Wallachia {Romania}. Transylvania was north of there.
     
  7. Jul 20, 2005 #6
    I think there are two main ways of viewing historical events - one involves 'personality' politics, whereby individuals are portrayed as gifted/powerful and capable of changing the 'course of history', and the other involves analysing the general social, economic and political conditions prevalent at the time as being the primary forces shaping history (the individuals concerned just take advantage of these conditions to do their 'great' or 'momentous' deeds). A third year student (majoring in business economics) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, reviews two books that take these opposing views (link for those interested in reading this brief review: http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/marcuse/classes/33d/projects/1920s/Molina2Books20s.htm ). I do not personally find analyses based on the personalities of leaders very convincing; to me, a close examinition of the prevailing economic, social and political conditions seem to lead to a more believable 'truth' about what happened historically.

    GB Jr will probably go down in history as a notorious leader, but I do not believe he deserves this fate. At the risk of annoying many PF contributors, I will state my belief about this matter: American capitalism is at the stage where it does not matter who the 'leader' is: to protect the interests of the wealthy elite that is truly in power in the US, American foreign policy would have been aggressive no matter which party (or leader) were in power. The problem is not the leadership, it is the economic system.

    In my opinion, Lenin and Trotsky have been viciously misrepresented as 'evil' in some historical accounts. Nelson Mandela, on the other hand, deserves the honoured status he has been granted - he truly did persevere and lived his life 'heroically' (these are my opinions, based on my knowledge - I realise that many will disagree).
     
  8. Jul 20, 2005 #7
    You're right. sorry, I was recalling something I read 30 odd years ago. :blushing:
     
  9. Jul 20, 2005 #8

    arildno

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Hitler was first and foremost one of the very best demagogues we know of in history.

    To listen to his speeches is a quite scary experience, not just because of their content, but because you (or at least I) can still sense how damn effective those speeches were.
     
  10. Jul 20, 2005 #9
    I love watching those speeches. I find it amazing just how bloody weird the guy was.
     
  11. Jul 20, 2005 #10
    Why are you limiting the problem to the economic system? It's more than just their economy, it's the inefficiency of the democratic process, the dying media, it's the entire system, not stricly economics. I agree with you though, America is in it's dying throws and is being very aggressive about it.
     
  12. Jul 20, 2005 #11

    selfAdjoint

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed


    From Alexandria's marxist perspective, all those things are predictable from the "conditions of employment", which she asserts is the late state of capitalism. Bourgeois institutions like democracy and the rule of law and the press are supposed to collapse then. I will only point out that capitalism has been in a "late state" according to marxists since the Second International. Remember Lenin's booklet on Imperialism? And bourgeois institutions have been collapsing since the Gilded Age too!
     
  13. Jul 20, 2005 #12
    He definitely existed, if you mean the vampire Dracula then you're right that wasn't real. That cropped up in myth and the saxons considered him a demon, Dracul after all translates as both Dragon and Devil.
    From what I have read it was all bunk, just rumour.
    I actually meant Hitler himself. He is apearantly known to in private, not just in speeches, have launched into quoting very long excerpts of Nietzsche. Some believe that he merely memorized passages and quoted them to promote the idea that he was an intellectual.
    You'd be suprised at the number of intelligent and reasonably well read people who don't realize that.
    By the Romanians yes and this also spread into Russia because he was considered by some to be a leader for his people and not just the nobles. This may mainly be because he killed off so many of the nobles and did not trust them. He also kept the saxons out for the most part which was seen almost as support for the local merchants. The saxons though loathed him and most of the stories about him paint him as nothing much more than a bloodthirsty warlord.
    Wallachia, or it's region, was surrounded by the Carpathians and if I remember correctly he did flee to a castle of some sort there when Mehmed invaded and he was unable to hold Wallachia.
    The first part actually occured when he was invaded by Mehmed in an attempt to scare off and intimidate the Janissaries. The second part about the boyar is part of the fabled dinner amongst the impaled corpses after his pre-emptive strike against the saxon city of Brasov where he supposedly sopped the blood of the victims with his bread. There is no historical evidence to support the story though except that the battle at Brasov did in fact happen.
    Most of the stories are unsupported by any historical facts. I believe that the nailing of the hats to the heads of those messengers is one of the few that is supported by any other source though.
    Sorry I have been enjoying sharing the stories with my friends since I read the book. :smile:
    Thank you Alex. I have read little about them. I'll have to get some more books. :smile:
    That's the one thing I'll give him is that he had that charisma. When speaking with a friend on this subject I compared him to an idiot savant.
    I believe this was sited quite a bit by the author of the book I read. I wouldn't say that Dracula was not terrible at all. You see what the author did was to show that all of these terrible things Dracula had done were common before, during, and after the time of Dracula's reign. The one thing that was not common in Europe at the time, or perhaps ever, was impalement which the author theorizes Tepes may have learned during his time with the Turks.
     
  14. Jul 21, 2005 #13

    loseyourname

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Exactly. It isn't capitalism in desperate throes; it's one specific group of elites. If US petroleum companies lost control of middle eastern resources, some other group would gain them, and that group would be just as capitalistic.
     
  15. Jul 21, 2005 #14
    Yes that's what I mean. The count himself existed, but most people don't realise that, they only know of the fictional character based on him.

    After reading the spear of destiny I'm pretty confident hitler had a fair bit of mythical aspirations, astrology in paticular I doubt, but he was rather supersticious.
     
  16. Jul 21, 2005 #15
    Read "Hitler and the Occult" by Ken Anderson. He specifically targets "The Spear of Destiny" and the author Ravenscroft for debunking through out the book since that book is one of the major sources of the myths. I've been meaning to pick up a copy of The Spear of Destiny though so I can actually read it. Even if I think it's bunk it could still be entertaining like Carlos Castanedas books.
     
  17. Jul 22, 2005 #16
    I skimmed through it a while ago. Didn't find it too fascinating and it's received enough criticisms of it's own. But perhapse I should give it a full chance eh? Too bad I've graduated, they had it at the school library but not at the public library.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?



Similar Discussions: Notorious Leaders In History
Loading...