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Leaders in History Articles

Every so often, a leader emerges whose legacy seems larger-than-life. Some of them inspire us and invite us to envision a better future, like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. Others had tumultuous lives and careers that read like a cautionary tale, such as Mary, Queen of Scots and Henry VIII. Still others were tyrants, politicians on the wrong side of history, and various other leaders whose examples we’d do well not to follow, like Russia’s Ivan the Terrible and Andrew Johnson, the first US president to be impeached.

If you want to know more about the people who stood out from their contemporaries, for better or worse, you’ve come to the right place. Our research on historical leaders examines not just who they were and what they did, but the lasting impact they’ve had on the world.

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"Villainous Perfidy": Benedict Arnold's Betrayal of George Washington

James Thomas Flexner examines how Benedict Arnold's defection shaped George Washington's future.

11 Books About Abraham Lincoln

From biographies to a collection of Lincoln’s writings, there’s much more to the 16th president than you might think.

The Culper Ring: The Revolutionary Spies Who Helped Win the War

George Washington relied on the secretive spy ring to win the American Revolution.

The Tumultuous Life of Mary, Queen of Scots

Take a detailed look at the life of a ruler who inherited the throne when she was just six days old.

[CLOSED] GIVEAWAY: Enter to Win The First Conspiracy, by Brad Meltzer

The bestselling author tells the story of a deadly plot that was hatched against George Washington.

Ulysses S. Grant: The Man Who Secured the Union’s Victory in the Civil War

Grant Moves South explores the legendary general’s pivotal successes and military strategies.

7 of the Best American History Books

Celebrate the red, white, and blue by remembering the history of those who came before us.

The Earliest-Born American to Be Photographed Is Also a Veteran

In 1852, at age 103, Revolutionary War veteran Conrad Heyer sat down to have his picture taken. 

George Washington Was Nearly Impossible to Kill

Diseases, brutal weather, and enemy fire all failed to take him down.

10 Books About the Kennedys

Get an inside look at the family America will never stop talking about.

"I've Been to the Mountaintop": Revisiting the 1968 Assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Gerald Posner examines that fateful day and the man responsible for King's murder in Killing the Dream.

Rosa Parks, Civil Rights Activist, Was Born on February 4, 1913

The woman who sparked the Montgomery bus boycotts was born in Tuskegee.

The French General Who Broke Free from an Inescapable Nazi Prison

The Germans believed their castle prison was inescapable—they were wrong.

Fidel Castro, the CIA, and John F. Kennedy’s Assassination

It’s been nearly 60 years since the assassination of JFK, and the mystery surrounding his death still haunts us.

Abraham Lincoln Penned This True Crime Tale in 1846

Three brothers are accused of murder after an Illinois man vanishes in this sensationalized true crime story penned by Abraham Lincoln.