Ken Wolf, a professor of history at Murray Sate University and author of Personalities and Problems, wrote with the intent to illustrate the varied richness of human history over the past five centuries. He took various personalities such as adventurers, princes, political leaders, and writers and categorized them in a way for readers to draw lines between them to create a clearer view of world history for himself. Beginning each new chapter with a specific question about worldly concerns and disciplines allowed the readers to relate the topics to broader, more general scenarios of their cultures. Answering the questions in essay form gave examples of how certain cultures/ parts of the world dealt with those issues. The answers that pertained to the questions informed readers about many historical figures without drawing a time line for the course of history and simply reiterating information as in a textbook. Wolf's layout of the book created an interesting, clear, and informative study of world civilizations.
Chapter twelve, about Erasmus and Luther, exemplified the interesting, clear, and informative way in which Wolf created his work. Although there are many other examples in Wolf's book as to how these aspects ring true to his purpose, I chose chapter two as only one reason. The question stated: To what extent is it possible to reform an institution from within? What intellectual and personal qualities cause some people to be more radical than others, and what are the implications of such differences in history (p.113).? After reading the essay, one might say that a person could go as far as possible to make something like reforms happen; but people may stand in his/her way. However, if that person is willing to lose or gain anything, such as excommunication from his/her Church or an increase of enemies, then he/she will extend to the distance needed. The essay answer also informed the reader of more general information, not solely facts on Erasmus and Luther. Readers learned that intellect and intelligence are not all that bring historical greatness. Personal qualities such as dominance, determination, perseverance, morality and empathy all play a role in making a difference in history. Some of these qualities can make the situation more radical than expected. Although Erasmus and Luther landed on the...
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...ter influence on a large number of people than this slim little volume (p.26).?
Lastly, Hammurabi, a famous lawgiver, would fascinate me. Hammurabi was a strict ruler who?s Code emphasized retaliation, ?an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth?. I wonder if his approach to lawgiver and ruler was the best for his society at the time. I would like to engage in conversation about his thoughts on his code and if he believed that it was proven to work. I also would like to ask him, why did he base his code on a class system? Did you feel that you opened the doors for women by allowing them to live with another man under certain circumstances? I would also let him know that even though I do not agree with his Code, he set guidelines for future lawmakers.
Many other characters are important to me; however, these four struck me as very interesting. Questions and reasons for wanting to spend time with them are infinite. The most important question of all for each historical figure in the book Personalities and Problems would be ?what drove them to actually pursue those problems and create such phenomenal solutions, especially when solving the problem would be so difficult??
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