If I could meet any Historical Dead People,
Who would they be?
by Josanna Thompson
I have pondered this question for many, many years. I majored in history, and I encountered many historical figures that I would have loved to meet so that I could hear first-hand about their lives. I would love to know what makes these people tick. So, who my top ten (10) dead people?
10. Robin Williams – I became a fan of Robin Williams the first night Mork and Mindy aired. I’ve been a fan ever since. In my humble opinion, he is one of the greatest comedians who ever lived. I would love to meet him long enough to thank him for all the years he made me laugh.
09. Mel Blank is the voice behind Bugs Bunny and all the Warner Bros. characters. I would ask him how he developed all those voices. Then I would make him tell me “good night” in all the different voices. That’s how he said goodnight to his kids. He did it every night. How cool is that?
08. Walt Disney gave such a gift to the world. I would love to hear about his life and how he developed his vision for Disney World.
07. Hürrem Sultan was a Polish captive who was sold to the harem in the Sultan’s Palace in Constantinople. She became Suleiman the Magnificent’s royal consort. Later, she married Suleiman, and became the wealthiest and most powerful woman in the Ottoman Empire. Not bad for a slave. I imagine that she has quite a story to tell.
06. Sacagawea was the ultimate working mother who led explorers Lewis & Clarke to the Western United States with a baby strapped on her back. I would love to hear her story from her perspective.
05. Cleopatra – Wife, mother, and ruler of Egypt. Who wouldn’t love to hear about her life in her own words?
04. Albert Einstein was one of the greatest minds of all time. I would ask him to explain his physics theories for physics dummies, like me.
03. Nelson Mandela, What an extraordinary life this man lived. He went from a political prisoner to the first black president in South Africa. President Mandela could have taken revenge against his enemies. Instead he forgave them and found a way to unite a nation. My question to him is how difficult was it to forgive his enemies and unite a divided country.
02 Queen Elizabeth I – Another extraordinary ruler who governed in a man’s world for many years. She was tough, fearless, and brilliant. The best part is that England flourished under her leadership. I would ask her what it was like to govern the most powerful country in the world.
01. James Cook is one of my favorite historical figures of all time. He sailed half way around the world during the 1750’s, His explorations took him to the South Seas, New Zealand, and Australia. His journal provides many fascinating insights into these cultures.
One of my favorite stories involves Cook's first experience with the Polynesians. Cook was a shrewd captain who understood the need to get along with the natives. This was a matter of survival because Cook and his men needed the native's food to survive. Cook even brought Western clothing and knives to trade with the Polynesians. In spite of Cook's gifts, Polynesians continued to help themselves to anything they could carry from Cook's ship. Stealing was so bad that Cook ordered his men to shoot a native after the native stole something from his fort. He and his crew felt terrible when he discovered that the Polynesian’s weapons were primitive compared to his weaponry. The Polynesians had never seen metal until the European ships visited this region. You can imagine how thrilled they were to acquire the European metal objects. Their favorite tool was ship nails because they made handy fish hooks. That was problematic for Cook. He desperately needed to find a way to discourage the Polynesians from stealing from them. Cook’s answer? He ordered his crew to confiscate all the Tahitian’s canoes until they returned their belongings. Cook’s plan worked like a charm. After that, Cook and his crew got along well with the natives. That story is the reason why this is one of my favorite historical figures of all time.
Those are my favorite dead people. Who are yours?
A Maiden's Honor
by Josanna Thompson
GENRE: Historical Fiction / Romance
Sarah Campbell is a rarity among women in her time. Raised by her Scottish father and the natives of a remote island in the South Pacific, Sarah and her father embark on a perilous journey to Scotland. Their crew betrays them and murders her father for the purpose of selling Sarah into slavery. She is rescued by an unlikely hero, Hassan Aziz, the most feared pirate on the Barbary Coast. She quickly discovers that she is unprepared for the complex world that is suddenly thrust upon her. Sarah must find a way to survive in a world that intrigues and terrifies her.
“Explain it in a way that she can understand,” Hassan shouted. “I want her to understand your treachery. Tell her now, or I will cut off your ears, your nose, and every part of your body until you confess your sin.” While several of his crewmen held Emile steady, Hassan pressed his saber against the doctor’s ear. “This is your last opportunity to confess,” he warned as he pushed his saber deep enough to draw blood.
Beads of sweat rolled down Emile’s forehead. “I deceived you, Sarah.” His voice quivered as he spoke in English. “We intended to murder your father when we decided to give you passage to France.”
“What murder?” Sarah asked.
The story is captivating and unusual, but I was dismayed at the non-ending references to violence, slavery and misogyny. There was not a single male character in the book that I could like, let alone respect. Women were forced to endure their lots without complaint; the consequences of not doing so were usually savage. Back-stabbing, intrigue, and cunning plots to gain or re-gain favor festered in the hearts and minds of most; the volatile minefield making it nearly impossible for the few non-duplicitous characters to survive.
I finally had to make a mental adjustment in order to continue reading the disturbing tale. For me, there is no romance in this story that made me want to embrace any of the male protagonists or made me tingle wishing I could trade places with the heroine in the scene. Once I put aside my expectation of romance and read this as a likely well-researched historical fiction book instead, I was finally able to relax into the grisly adventure; appreciating the many personalities that were caught up in the cultural, religious and societal clashes of the early 19th century.
Reviewed by Laurie-J
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Josanna Thompson is the author of A Maiden's Honor and The Woman from Eden series. She has lived in many different places in the United States, including the Southeast, the Midwest, California, and the Northeast. When she is not writing; she enjoys traveling, exploring, and scuba diving.
GIVEAWAYJosanna Thompson will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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