Category Archives: The Top Eight List

Because there are way too many top ten lists.

My Eight Favorite History Books of All Time

by Rick Bretz

Cover of "Fortunate Son: The Healing of a...
Cover via Amazon

1. Fortunate Son: The Healing of a Vietnam Vet

By Lewis B. Puller, Jr.

For autobiographies and a book that makes you empathize with and respect the author, this one is at the top of the list for me.  This book earned the Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and it deserved it.  He was the son of Marine General Lewis “Chesty” Puller, a hero to every Marine that ever served.  His son followed in his footsteps and served with distinction as a Marine Corps officer in Vietnam.  The Vietnam War handed Puller a challenge he fought his whole life when he lost both his legs, part of his arm, hand and part of his stomach.  The chapter that tells the story of his father visiting him in the hospital is a gut wrenching read.  The rest of his life story is riveting and he fights to come back.  In a sad ending, three years after earning the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, Puller took his own life. The book is inspiring and an example of the fight that most wounded warriors go through when they come back from the fight.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Burwell_Puller,_Jr.

2. John Adams

By David McCullough

McCullough has written several books that I have enjoyed throughout the years.  He’s a pleasure to read and always tells me something new about the subject.  He’s tackled subjects as diverse as Harry Truman and the Brooklyn Bridge.  For Adams, McCullough gave us glimpse into the Adams personality and reminded us of how important this founding father was to American history who for a while was lost among the others stellar figures like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. I wasn’t expecting an interesting read but what I got was a page turner.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_McCullough

3. TR: The Last Romantic

By H.W. Brands

This epic biography takes you from Teddy Roosevelt’s young days, through college, his heart aches, and his triumphs through to the end of his life.  The book discusses his adventurous travels, his bombastic personality as well as his knack for being in the right place at the right time.  Once he got his opportunities, he makes the most of them.  The book also discusses his mistakes and his relationships with his sons and daughters.  There are several books about this larger than life President but this is one that portrays the era and how a go-getter lives in it.

http://books.google.com/books/about/T_R.html?id=J7jMw0bwRy8C

English: Brigadier General Chuck Yeager
English: Brigadier General Chuck Yeager (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. Yeager, An Autobiography

By General Chuck Yeager and Leo Janus

A first-hand account of the pilot who was pilot that ushered in the supersonic age.  Yeager is an interesting autobiography of a first pilot to break the sound barrier.  However, it is much more than the story of that feat.  It tells the story of his younger days and his World War II combat dog fights.  He writes about his friends, family and his days as commander of several Air Force units and how he handled some delicate situations as commander and as a top-notch pilot.

http://www.amazon.com/Yeager-An-Autobiography-Chuck/dp/0553256742

5. Unbroken: The World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption

By Laura Hillenbrand

The story of Lt. Louis Zamperini who joined the war as an aviator bombardier and was part of crew that ended up in rubber raft trying to survive days and then weeks.  Little does the reader know that this is only the beginning of a story that includes brutality at a POW camp and starvation for him and his crew mates. A few years earlier Zamperini was running in the Olympics and then the War.  This is an all to real story of about what Prisoners of War have had to endure.

http://www.amazon.com/Unbroken-World-Survival-Resilience-Redemption/dp/1400064163

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Zamperini

English: Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth Presid...

6.  A Team Of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

By Doris Kearns Goodwin

Today’s politicians could learn a few things concerning how President Lincoln handled his victories and as well as his defeats.  Once he gained the Presidential Office, instead of isolating his rivals, Lincoln invited them into his inner circle.  He did this because he was confident in himself and his abilities.  He knew how to handle difficult personalities.  He wanted the best minds available to weather the coming storm of the Civil War and its complications for the United States economy and standing among other nations.  The Doris Kearns Goodwin book covers this subject expertly.  After finishing the book, you will get a perceptive look into the genius that was President Lincoln.

http://www.amazon.com/Team-Rivals-Political-Abraham-Lincoln/dp/0743270754

Peter I of Russia
Peter I of Russia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7. Great Rivals in History: When Politics Gets Personal

By Joseph Cummins

This is a read that explores why certain people throughout history hated each other.  In fact, some of these people despised each other.  They took it to a point where they ruined their countries and their lives.  It analyzes the relationship among several of history’s colorful and despised personalities such as the rivalry between Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky.  Other rivalries include Charles XII of Sweden and Peter the Great of Russia. There are many with many reasons why each were against the other.  It provides an analysis as to why leaders and generals clashed to form historical events.

http://www.amazon.com/Great-Rivals-History-Politics-Personal/dp/1607108658

8. What if? The World’s Foremost Military Historians Imagine What Might Have Been

Edited by Robert Cowley

This book poses fascinating questions has to what might have been.  Would history have taken a left turn instead of right if certain meetings had occurred or if wrong decisions hadn’t been made by leaders and generals?  For instance, would Germany have fared better in World War II if Hitler hadn’t invaded the Soviet Union?  Would there have been a better way to handle Cuba and Fidel Castro?   Some of these questions are pondered and answered.  It’s a fascinating travel log through history and what might have been.

http://www.amazon.com/What-If-Foremost-Military-Historians/dp/0425176428

That is my list.  There are several others books I like  but for sheer enjoyment, these are my eight favorites.  Do you have any to add to the list?  Leave me a suggestion.

Eight Comedians Who Should Be Vice President

by Rick Betz

I’ve decided to turn the tables on comedians who make jokes and one liners at the expense of Vice Presidents.  Vice Presidents have a difficult job trying to make their days seem important while waiting for the chance to be at the top of the pyramid.  On the surface, this list making exercise may seem easy but hold your punch lines. The selections have to be entertaining since VPs also provide entertainment to the public and the comedy circle.  More than that, they have to appear as though they can take on the responsibilities of President if called upon to do so.

Here are my selections:

English: Flag of the Vice President of the Uni...
English: Flag of the Vice President of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Will Farrell-If he can’t be serious, he does a good job looking serious when he needs to be.  He can say stuff like, “I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.” Besides, the government needs more Cow Bell. If you can be an Anchorman, you can be a Vice President.

2. Lewis Black-He can point out all of exasperation, frustrations and irritations associated with the government and the tax code.  He would be our voice for reason.  One of his best lines, “What does the word “meteorologist” mean in English? It means “liar.”

3. Chris Rock-He would keep it real and bring as much pain as possible to the government to force them to get things done.  Some of his best one liners, “I live in a neighborhood so bad that you can get shot while getting shot.”  Or “We were so poor when we went to bed my daddy unplugged the clocks.”

4. Louis C.K.-Louis would be perfect for saying that outrageous statement that would take the heat off the President when he needed it. One of his best one-liners, “The meal is not over when I’m full, the meal is over when I hate myself.”

 

5. Ron White-All together now, “You can’t fix stupid.” I can see Ron White sitting behind the President during the State of the Union message.  I wouldn’t be able to listen to a word the President would say. I would be looking at Ron White to see if he’d snuck in a bottle of Scotch. One of his best lines, “If life has given you lemons, then make lemonade and then try to find someone whose life has given them Vodka, and then have a party.”

Ellen DeGeneres at Hotel Bel Air in Los Angele...

6. Ellen DeGeneres-If she can handle hosting an awards show just after 9/11, she can handle being Vice President.  One of her best lines, “I’m a Godmother.  That’s a great thing to be, a Godmother.   She calls me God for short, that’s cute, I taught her that.”

7. Steve Martin-You get double for your money with this one.  He is a fantastic banjo player who just produced an excellent CD with Edie Brickell, titled “Love Has Come For You”.  He is a terrific comedian and actor. If all of that doesn’t work, he could always bring out the old reliable “arrow through the head” routine.  One of his many one liners, “Boy, those French, they have a different word for everything!”

8. Jim Breuer-He is an on-the-edge-of-your-seat story-teller.  If you don’t believe me, search out his Pizza Man Story.  He is also another Saturday Night Live alumnus and a Jersey guy, which score points on my rating scale.

That’s my list.  You put these together with the other list (Eight People Who Should Have Been President) and you got something that could work for America.  Some people say this is an exercise in futility.  I prefer to look at these lists as what should have been and what might be.  We can only hope.  Frankly, I’m tired of amateur comedians taking up room in the executive offices, I want professionals in there.

If you have a suggestion, feel free to add your selection to the list.

Eight People Who Should Have Been President

A portrait of the American writer Mark Twain t...
A portrait of the American writer Mark Twain taken by A. F. Bradley in New York, 1907. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Rick Bretz

1. Mark Twain

One of Twain’s best lines states this, ““Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”  When a President recognizes a problem before he begins, then he has solved half the problem before stepping one foot on the oval office carpet.  He also said if you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything. Honesty and sincerity with intelligence spiced with a sense of humor–imagine the possibilities.  Mark Twain would have been a great president because he would have given entertaining press conferences.  He also would have taken the job seriously enough but also laughed at the absurdity of it all.

2. Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin was an outstanding writer, diplomat and forward thinker.  He said, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.” Based on the written material concerning Franklin’s work and exploits in Britain and France during America’s struggle for independence, he would have been effective dealing with world leaders.

3. Abigail Adams

The wife of John Adams was extremely intelligent and more politically savvy than her husband.  In another time and another age, she would have had a chance to show the world what she could achieve.  As it was, her advice to her husband during private conversations likely kept him from alienating even more people.  She said once, “I’ve always felt that a person’s intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting points of view he can entertain simultaneously on the same topic.”  I think she was on to something there that applies toward today’s political environment.

4. Alexander Hamilton

He said, “Experience will teach us that no government costs so much as a bad one.” He would have had my vote.

5. Katharine Hepburn

She would have intimidated all of the world leaders.  She would have known exactly what to say and to whom at the right moment. She would have been perfect.

English: Vice President Richard M. Nixon and S...
English: Vice President Richard M. Nixon and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the Kremlin. NARA. Special Media Archives Services Division (Still Pictures). RG306-RMN-1-21 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6. Walt Disney

He knew how to run a business and build a world—Disney World.  Where did Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev want to go when visiting Los Angeles in 1959? Disneyland.  He wasn’t able to go due to security concerns which upset him greatly.  As president he could have used the trip to Disneyland or Disney World as his trump card.  I can hear it now, “Agree to this or no trip to the magic kingdom.”

7. Frank Lloyd Wright

English: Fallingwater in West Orange
Fallingwater in West Orange (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The architect Frank Lloyd Wright built spectacular buildings and houses. If he can build great structures that people admire today, then he could have helped build a great nation also.

8. Orson Welles

English:

His voice was terrific.  He would have delivered speeches that would have had audiences standing in awe.  Convention speeches would have been must see television.

Notable Links:

http://www.adherents.com/people/100_men.html

http://www.thefamouspeople.com/

http://jpetrie.myweb.uga.edu/poor_richard.html

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/a/abigail_adams.html

http://alexanderhamiltonspeaks.blogspot.com/

http://www.snopes.com/disney/parks/nikita.asp

Top Eight Demonstrations, Protests, Riots, Marches, Sit-ins

by Rick Bretz

If you see a malcontent, discontent, dissident or an activist fighting for a cause on the world stage, you’ll likely see someone or some power base trying to stop it, quell it or ignore it.

Turkish protestors are news today with more clashes with the government. The demonstrations are seen as protests against the conservative President Recep Tayyip Erdogan against secular Turks. Erdogan is being accused of forcing his Islamic views on a segment of the Turkish population. Islamic conservatives and secular politicians have long battled for government control and the best way to run a country with an overwhelming Islamic population. Situated at the edge of the European land mass and the Middle Eastern Territory, the Turkish people have fought for their religious identity while trying to be part of the European Union and culture.

Demonstrations, protests, marches, and riots usually begin with peaceful sit-ins and marches but soon escalate to violence and mayhem. Some of these achieve results while others are just the beginning of a longer struggle. Depending on where you sit at the table, one person’s terrorist, radical, guerilla, and rebel is another’s freedom fighter and force for change. After all, the United States revolution began with a peaceful protest.

Here are the top eight that we noticed.

1. Hungarian Uprising of 1956-The Soviet Union tanks rolled into Budapest after the Hungarian leadership informed Moscow that they were leaving the Warsaw Pact. This act fueled Soviet leaders to send in the tanks. Thousands were killed during the crackdown and its aftermath.

2. UK Miner’s Strike and early US Union Strikes -Worker’s unions in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere fought corporate abuse to increase wages, improve working conditions and work schedules. The passing of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) significantly aided unions to recruit and negotiate with corporate management.

John L. LeFlore and Freedom Riders
John L. LeFlore and Freedom Riders (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3. Freedom Riders-1961-The Freedom Riders climbed in the bus, drove through the South, and more importantly, had the courage to get off the bus when the welcome party was unfriendly.

4. Antiwar Protests-From Vietnam to the Iraq War, when talk fails another tool of diplomacy takes form. An instrument in a country’s diplomatic tool bag is the strength of its military– Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force. Whether it be two people or two countries fighting, someone is likely against the idea no matter how noble the cause.

Tiananmen Square Protest (tian_med)
Tiananmen Square Protest (tian_med) (Photo credit: mandiberg)

5. Tiananmen Square-1989-Who can forget the lone protestor standing in front of the tank line, moving left to right as the tank moved. Later, the brutal crackdown at the square displayed government power for all the world to see on news channels across the globe. The final chapter for this hasn’t been written yet.

6. 1968 Democratic Convention-The news networks aired the violence for the world to see. Riots in the Chicago streets served Republican nominee Richard Nixon well. The media savvy Chicago Seven knew cameras would be rolling and the networks broadcasting while the city police forced people into paddy wagons. The whole affair alarmed Middle America and put an exclamation point on the terrible year of 1968 when Senator Robert Kennedy and Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., were assassinated.

7. Polish Solidarity Movement-1980s-The Solidarity movement forced the communist government to the table to negotiate with the country’s labor force. Another brick was removed from the Berlin Wall.

8. Wounded Knee-1973-The American Indian Movement clashed with the Federal Government and lives were lost.  The past repeats.

Whether the many or the few, failure to compromise with the opposing view will result in the beaten down using the power of numbers and the force of the media.

Others: WWI Veteran Pension Riots, the Suffrage Marches, Russian Revolution, Watts Riots, Prague Spring, Soweto Uprising

Notable Links:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/gallery/2010/nov/14/ten-best-protests#/?picture=368602881&index=7

http://protest.net/

http://www.varsity.co.uk/lifestyle/5124

http://www.now.org/history/protests.html

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/hungarian_uprising_1956.htm

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/ford-signs-first-contract-with-autoworkers-union

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/The-Freedom-Riders.html

http://www.npr.org/2006/01/12/5149667/get-on-the-bus-the-freedom-riders-of-1961

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/the-chicago-seven-go-on-trial

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soweto_uprising

The Top Eight News Anchors of All Time

by Rick Bretz

The past couple of weeks have reminded everyone that during a crisis, Americans turn to news channels and programs to keep them current on the events that move through our lives. Journalists and broadcasters are considered to be the authors of history’s first rough draft. It is this rough draft that historians seek out ten or twenty years from the event to write their potential best sellers. These professionals often get beat up for not getting it right or for omitting facts when the heat is on with five minutes to go before air time. Viewers often look upon them with disdain for inserting their opinions and not covering the whole story.  Today in the 24 hour news cycle, television news is under the deadline pressure to get it right and get it correct–now .  The public doesn’t want it 10 minutes from now but right now in our world of the Smart Phone and travelling laptops and I-Pads.  The following list is my best news anchors of all time.  It was a time when different rules applied and the deadline pressure was at least a few hours–just enough time to get the story nearly right.

1. David BrinkleyNBC and ABC    (NBC-1956-1971 and 1976-1979) (ABC-1981-1998)

My favorite and it’s not even close.  I liked his one-of-a-kind delivery and his dry humor and views on current events.  When he moved to ABC to do his Sunday weekend show, it was required viewing for me.  I looked forward to his closing commentaries every Sunday.  I just knew he was about to say something in those few minutes at the end of the show that would make me think, make me laugh or both.

2. Douglas Edwards-CBS-(1948-1962)

He was a trailblazer.  He set a standard along with John Cameron Swayze for everyone else to meet or exceed.

3. Frank Reynolds-ABC (1968-1970)

You can just tell when someone is a true professional and care about his work.  Frank Reynolds came across on the television as someone who lived and breathed news.

English: Original caption:"NASA Remembers...

4. Walter Cronkite-CBS (1962-1981)

It seems that Walter Cronkite was there for many of the major news events, The Kennedy Assassination, The Vietnam War, the Political Conventions, The NASA moon landings.  The World War II correspondent had seen it all and always struck the right note for a story.

5. John Chancellor-NBC (1970-1982)

He was smooth as silk in his delivery and could write some of the best news commentaries about current topics. He also scores points for narrating Ken Burns’ PBS documentary on Baseball.

6. Harry Reasoner-CBS (60 Minutes) and ABC  (CBS-1968-1970 and 1978-1991)   (ABC-1970-1978)

He was a terrific writer and interviewer for “60 Minutes”.  He anchored the news for ABC during some of the most turbulent years in America’s social history.

7. Max Robinson-ABC (1978-1983)

I admire people who lead the way.  This anchor  and the next person did just that. He was a trailblazer in every sense of the word as the first African-American network news anchor.  He had terrific voice and a great delivery. He made the three anchor format of Max Robinson, Frank Reynolds  and Peter Jennings work smoothly from his desk on “World News Tonight”.

Publicity photo from the Today television prog...
Publicity photo from the Today television program. From left: Gene Shalit, Barbara Walters, and Frank McGee. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

8. Barbara Walters ABC and NBC (ABC-1976-1978)  (NBC-Today Show-1961-1976) (ABC-Co-host of 20/20-1984-2004)

Another anchor who was a first, the first woman anchor of a network news, ABC Evening News, while co-anchoring with Harry Reasoner.  You had to be tough, working news in those days among the all-male anchor club.  She didn’t back down and she was a true professional,  She  is revered in her field today because of her catalogue of quality work.  She led the way for Connie Chung, Katie Couric and several other women on the 24 hour news channels we see today.

Honorable Mentions– Bernard Shaw-CNN, John Chancellor-NBC, Frank McGee-NBC, Peter Jennings-ABC, Connie Chung-CBS, Chet Huntley-NBC

Do you have your favorites? Leave a comment and tell me why?

The Top Eight Government Putschs, Coups, Overthrows, or Coup D’états

Big Three at the Potsdam Conference in Germany...
Big Three at the Potsdam Conference in Germany: Prime Minister Winston Churchill, President Harry S. Truman and Generalissimo Josef Stalin, seated in garden. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Rick Bretz
Not having power for some people is too much to bare. So they go after it even if it means they have to take it away forcefully. There are not many bloodless coups. Power is too much of a drug for people to stand by without a fight. Even if taken peacefully, the people who had the power will pay some kind of price, either with their lives or with humiliation by the conquerors. No one can forget the sight of Mikhail Gorbachev being ordered around by Boris Yeltsin at the podium after he was forced to step down in the early 90s.

With the arrival of March, a couple of events come to mind. One is St. Patrick’s Day, a celebration of St. Patrick, one of the patron saints of Ireland. The other being the Ides of March, March 15th. Besides being an old world celebration day it also known as the day Julius Caesar was assassinated at the base of the Statue of Pompey in 44 BC. This thought brought up the idea of other overthrows that have occurred in history and how important they were to the rest of world order.

The United States federal government has been stable  since George Washington took office (arguably since the Articles of Confederation) because we have a somewhat organized election that begins a disciplined series of events culminating in the inauguration of the next President of the United States. Some countries never achieve this process resulting in violence and destruction.
Here are eight coups that have, in my view, significantly reverberated across the globe.

Fidel Castro becomes the leader of Cuba as a r...
Fidel Castro becomes the leader of Cuba as a result of the Cuban Revolution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. 1959: Fidel Castro overthrows Batista.
This one is number one on the list because it almost caused two countries to launch missiles at each other a couple of years later. The  Cuban Missile Crisis might be one cause that began the whole 1960s free love, live and let live, drugs are fantastic thing in the sixties.  They probably figured, “Well, if the governments are going to send missiles at one another at any second, and we don’t have a say in it, we’ll have fun while we can.”  In addition, the United States is still dealing with the consequences of Fidel Castro ruling Cuba more than 50 years later with the trade embargo, travel restrictions and a Cuban constituency in Florida that can influence elections.  Besides that, there’s the Cuban cigar thing.

2. 1804: Napoleon Bonaparte becomes Emperor of France by a coup d’état.
Once Bonaparte came to power, he waged war all across Europe and with Britain. This is high up on the list due to Bonaparte inflicting war and destruction across Europe until the Russian winter stopped him along with his own ego.  Russian winters taught Bonaparte a lesson that Hitler forgot or refused to take into account more than a century later.

Royal Russian family (LOC)
Royal Russian family (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

3. 1917–March: abdication of Nicholas II of Russia in favor of the Russian Provisional Government.
Call it an abdication, but Nicholas II didn’t give up the Czar title willingly and would have kept it if he had had an avenue to remain on the throne.  Arguably his track record as a ruler wasn’t the best.  He oversaw the economic and military collapse of his country as well as executed his political opponents. He persecuted the Jewish people inside Russia and generally made poor decisions domestically and on foreign policy.  So, Vladimir Lenin had his chance but didn’t survive long enough to keep Josef Stalin out of the dictator seat.  Instead, the over throw eventually led to a corrupted, paranoid communist government, Josef Stalin, bad decisions during World War II, an arms race, an Iron Curtain, a Berlin Wall, missile launch sites in Cuba, the edge of total annihilation from nuclear weapons, and several billions and trillions of dollars on both sides used to develop weapons of mass destruction.

4. 1792- by the National Convention against King Louis XVI of France, the French Revolution.
The difference between the American Revolution and the French Revolution is that those in power after the US revolution didn’t go around with a guillotine lopping the heads off the aristocracy, creating domestic terror throughout the land.

5. 1969–Sep 1st: Muammar al-Gaddafi overthrows King Idris I of Libya.
A country gets the wrong guy in; it could take more than 40 years to get rid of him. This dictator is on here due to his sanctioning, supporting, and harboring terrorists who executed one horrible event, the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. This Libyan dictator was a thorn in many government’s sides, including several Middle Eastern countries.

6. 1936- by Francisco Franco against Manuel Azaña.
Generalissimo Franco was the picture of opportunism. He helped put down an earlier coup when it didn’t benefit him. Became a leader for the 1936 coup that led to a civil war. He assumed power and remained there for almost 40 years. As I stated earlier, once you get some of these guys in, it is difficult to get them out. He died in 1975. He had economic successes, but it doesn’t make up for the torture and human rights abuses.  He kept power through censorship, imprisonment, forced labor camps, death sentences, and other political means. When it was beneficial to him, he moved his foreign policy towards the Italian and German fascist leaders prior to, and during, World War II. After the war, he maneuvered his political diplomacy toward the United States and NATO because he knew NATO wanted to stop the spread of communism.

Mustafa Kemal Atatürk
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7. 1909-The Young Turk Revolution breaks out in the Ottoman Empire against the absolute rule of Sultan Abdul Hamid II.
This is one coup that actually meant a great leap forward for a country. This coup led to an eventual Turkish revolution led by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of the Turks.  The father of modern Turkey is revered in his country. If it is possible to take a country and drag it into the modern world, that is what Ataturk did. He pushed through economic, social, and cultural reforms while creating a secular government. He was instrumental in separating Islamic Law from government. He mandated that Islamic Law be limited to the practice of religion while the government would use secular law.

8. 1971-Military in Uganda led by Idi Amin overthrows government.
This dictator’s regime was characterized by ethnic killings, corruption, nepotism, and according to most human rights groups, between 100 and 500 thousand people killed. Besides being arrogant and astonishingly brutal to his enemies, he started a war with Tanzania in 1978, the Uganda-Tanzania War. This war led to his fleeing the country and eventually landing in Saudi Arabia where he died in 2003.

Eight US Historical Figures for the Time Machine

By Rick Bretz

If I could go back in time and be given the opportunity to work with or talk with anyone I wanted, the following list is who I would choose.  I started thinking about this recently because I was reading an article about George S. Patton and, by all accounts from research, he believed in reincarnation.  Specifically, he believed he was a member of Armies that participated in major battles through Europe’s history.  I thought, if I could go back, where would I want to be and who would I want to talk to during my stay.  It would give me a chance to feel some of that confidence and aura that made them great or controversial.

Here is the list.

Emanuel Leutze's depiction of Washington's att...
Emanuel Leutze’s depiction of Washington’s attack on the Hessians at Trenton on December 25, 1776, was a great success in America and in Germany. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. General George Washington at the Battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776.

Riding beside Washington during the battle of Trenton would have been interesting just to see how he commanded his Army.  From everything that I have read about his personality, Washington did not talk much.  I would just ride along and not ask any questions. I would remain silent so the Father of our Country could concentrate and gain our liberty.  I would observe and take notes surreptitiously.  I, however, would make sure I was in the same boat at the Delaware River crossing and with him during the assault just to see how he handles himself.  Later, during the victory dinner, I would fit in a question or two about it. I would probably ask something ridiculous like, “Was it as cold out there for you last night as it was for me?” or a conversation starter like, “Those Hessians wear some silly hats don’t they?” Washington would have responded, “Shouldn’t you be at Valley Forge.”

 

2. Thomas Jefferson writing the Declaration of Independence from June 11-June 28, 1776.

I would hope that I would refrain from interrupting while he was drafting the declaration.  More than that, I would hope that I wouldn’t be a back seat writer.  For instance, when he writes, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  I wouldn’t want to say something amateurish like, “Isn’t that a little wordy?”   Instead I would say something like, “That’s perfect, Tom.   Adams doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

 

Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid
Charlie Chaplin and Jackie Coogan in The Kid (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3. Charlie Chaplin working on films in early 20th Century Hollywood.

This would be great just to work around a genius at the start of the industry.  I would probably be asking for a part in all of his films.  “Hey Charlie, do you have a part for me in ‘Gold Rush’ or ‘City Lights’ or the ‘The Kid’.  Either way, I would just hang out and watch how he worked his magic.

 

4. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs at Silicon Valley in the 1980s.

This would have been great to hang out in the conference rooms of both sides just to see what they would have been saying about each other.  Sitting in on all the business decisions and negotiations that helped build both companies would have been enlightening.  I would have been at the ground floor and bought all those company shares before the IPO and watched them grow.  This is starting to get a little sad, I’ll stop writing now.

 

5.  Mark Twain while touring Europe and writing Innocents Abroad in 1867.

Touring Europe and the Middle East with Mark Twain would have been a hoot.  Hanging out at the local café or pub with him cracking wise on American tourists or the local scene seems like a great way to pass the time.

 

English: Theodore Roosevelt wearing pince-nez,...
English: Theodore Roosevelt wearing pince-nez, traditionally uncredited photograph. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6. President Teddy Roosevelt during his African Safari in 1909.

An African Safari with President Teddy Roosevelt!  All he would have to say is “Do you want to come along.” “Yes!!!!”  I would be waiting at the docks to board the ship going to Africa. He undertook the trip so he could bring back specimens for the National Museum and the American Museum of Natural History. He also became a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association in 1907 when he was President. I could just see myself standing beside Roosevelt while a Rhino charges waiting patiently for him to shoot before I would. I’m pretty sure I would have been faster than President Roosevelt if things got out of hand-I think.

 

The route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
The route of the Lewis and Clark Expedition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7. Captain Meriwether Lewis and William Clark during the Corps of Discovery expedition west to map out the newly purchased US Territory from France past the Mississippi River in 1804-1806.

This would have an adventure worth taking.  I would have traveled with the expedition and would have seen new rivers and forests on my way to the Pacific Ocean.  I probably would have suggested a route a little more South.  Lewis and Clark would have said, “No back seat driving.” Let’s face it, we take driving west for granted today because we have nice four lane highway and rest stop and hotels. These two and their expedition didn’t even have a dirt road or trail.

 

8. Abraham Lincoln for the whole four years in the White House sitting in the oval office so I could hear some of his stories.

Lincoln was great story-teller.  I would have been content just to hang around and be his sounding board while he was trying to end the Civil War.  If he threw in a humorous story now and then, I would have been content. One thing is for sure, I would have tried to attend the play with him and his wife, Mary, at Ford’s Theatre on April 14th.   I would have also heard the door open behind us.

 

 

Honorable Mentions:  President Ronald Reagan at the Berlin Wall, President John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Harry S. Truman when he found out the United States had the Atomic Bomb.  Andrew Carnegie during the industrial revolution, John Ford creating the automobile and the assembly line, Vince Lombardi during his Green Bay Packer coaching years, and Babe Ruth during his whole career.