For better of for worse these are the people who changed our world.
Over a century after he first appeared in movies, Charlie Chaplin’s name still conjures images of a funny little guy in a bowler hat causing mirth-inducing chaos. By some measures, his Little Tramp is the most famous character to have ever existed, a clown so beloved that not even Hitler stealing his mustache could ruin him for us.
Oct 16 2019
He is the worldwide symbol of rebellion and revolutionary struggle. His silhouette is familiar to billions, representing the epitome of cool anti-establishmentism. Yet, few people know the real story behind the legend of Che Guevara. In this week’s Biographix, we discover the man behind the myth to reveal an individual whose passion for social justice saw no bounds.
Aug 05 2019
Christopher Columbus (c. 1451 to May 20, 1506) was an Italian explorer and navigator. In 1492, he sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain in the Santa Maria, with the Pinta and the Niña ships alongside, hoping to find a new route to India.
Jul 23 2019
His nickname is still known across the globe. Simon Bolivar, El Libertador (The Liberator), the man who almost single-handedly wrested South America from Spanish control. Without a doubt, he was one of the most important men who ever lived: a Latino George Washington, a general who could stand shoulder to shoulder with Napoleon. In his short life, he united all of modern Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, and Ecuador into a single superstate… and then lived long enough to see all his dreams turn to dust in the harsh daylight of independence.
Soldier, hero, exile, radical, general, dictator, man of the people, Simon Bolivar was many things. Yet outside Latin America, knowledge of his life is something most of us are sorely lacking. Today, we take you on a sweeping ride through the epic life of the man known to history as The Liberator.
Aug 06 2019
Italian diplomat Niccolò Machiavelli lived over five centuries ago but his influence among unscrupulous politicians reaches into the modern age. He is mostly known for writing The Prince -- the handbook that established him as the "father of modern political theory." Through its teachings -- power is the ultimate goal through any means necessary.
Jul 22 2019
The leading generals of World War Two carried a huge weight on their shoulders. Their decisions could mean the difference between life and death for thousands of men; their actions helped to shape the fate of nations. History has judged some of them as fools, others as butchers, and a handful as military geniuses...
May 09 2019
The sun was setting on the Norwegian port of Bergen. It was early July, 1349, and off in the distance, a lone ship was crossing the line of the horizon. The ship bobbed calmly, port to starboard, coming closer into view. The inhabitants of Bergen noticed its tattered sails and lack of movement on board. As gently as it had appeared, the ship entered the harbour and run aground. Every sailor on board was dead.
Feb 07 2020
Adolf Eichmann was a thin little man with bow legs and a hook nose. In the civilian world he had been viewed as of no account, a socially awkward loser with little to redeem himself. Having joined the Nazi party, however, his unquestioning commitment to orders coupled with his need for ruthless efficiency allowed him to carve out a career that see him go down as one of the greatest mass murderers in all of human history. In this week’s Biographics, we trace the life, crimes and death of Adolf Eichmann.
Jul 24 2019
Many of us have grown reading his tales on self-destruction, revenge and violence. Tales of premature burials, of ghastly cats and ravens, where the line between the living and the dead is never clear. But when you look deeper into the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe a more complex figure emerges, beyond the traditional image of the alcoholic, pale, sickly author with an obsession for death.
Dec 06 2019
In the whole of Russian history, there have been a mere handful of men to earn the nickname “the great”. But there has only ever been one woman. Catherine the Great was an empress who defied both her circumstances and the opinions of those around her to shape an entire era. Born into a minor German family in the first half of the 18th Century, she found herself thrust into the spotlight when she married Peter III of Russia aged only 16. But rather than being a pushover, Catherine used her new position to grab the imperial crown for herself.
Dec 30 2019
He was the richest man in America, the world at his fingertips, and yet he was a prisoner to his own dark fears. His achievements were astounding – he created the fastest plane on the planet, was the driving force behind the largest aircraft ever built and was a pioneer in film making – and yet he is remembered for the eccentricities that drove him from hero to hermit. In his heyday, he was a romantic figure, with movie starlets flocking to be seen on his arm, and yet he spent the last 26 years of his life as a recluse, obsessed with cleanliness and controlling every aspect of his environment even as he sunk deeper and deeper into madness.
May 06 2019
Jan 23 2019
We imagine Winston Churchill with his signature cane, drinking scotch whiskey, and puffing on a Cuban cigar. His mouth is downturned, and his voice is gruff and his words pointed. This is the image Hollywood portrays but it is a mere caricature of the flesh and blood version. Who was Winston Churchill? In Britain’s “darkest hour,” Churchill led his country from the brink of Nazi conquest by forging an alliance with the U.S. and Russia. He had many critics, and made mistakes on a grand scale. Yet, above it all, possessed an unwavering belief in his own power. To his beloved country he offered his “blood, toil, tears and sweat.”
Jun 04 2019
Imagine, for a moment, that you could travel backwards through time and give your sixteen year old self the powers of a God. Imagine placing the lives and fates of millions into your trembling teenage hands. Would the result be a happier world, a utopia? Or would the result be catastrophe for everyone involved, including your younger self? In October, 54 AD, the Roman Empire made this little thought experiment a terrifying reality. They elevated an emotionally unstable 16 year old boy to the position of emperor. That boy’s name? Nero.
Mar 24 2020
The story we bring to you today shows exactly that. This is the story of three individuals who through imagination, cunning and sheer cheek were able to fool the secret services of half of Europe at the height of World War II. This is the story of the secret agent codenamed ‘Garbo’ and his associates, and how they brought about the greatest deception of the War.
Mar 27 2020
According to legend, Spartacus’s wife walked in on her sleeping husband one night to find that a snake had wrapped itself around his face. Instead of being alarmed, she took this as a prophecy. Just like the serpent surrounded itself around the warrior’s head, so shall Spartacus be enveloped by a “great and fearful power”. One thing the woman could not see, however, was if this power would lead her husband to glory or disaster.
Mar 03 2020
During the Bolshevik revolution, the Romanov dynasty was killed after over a hundred-year reign in Russia. The bodies of the parents and all five children were laid on the ground. But when the corpses were later moved and given a proper burial, the bodies of the son, Alexei, and the princess Anastasia were missing. This gave the Russian people hope that at least two of these innocent children managed to play dead long enough to escape.
Aug 23 2019
On September 19, 1991, a couple of tourists were hiking through the alpine mountains that straddle the border between Austria and Italy when they came upon a grisly sight - a frozen body with the lower half completely encased in ice. They initially thought they discovered the remains of an unfortunate mountaineer who maybe got lost or injured and died in the snow. Or perhaps they stumbled onto something a bit more blood-curdling like a murder victim. Either way, they did what any sensible person would do and alerted the authorities.
Jan 03 2020
Born in Germany in 1891, Erwin Rommel didn’t have the military in his DNA…his father was a teacher, and he was the only member of his family to enter the military as a career. Of his three siblings that lived to adulthood, one brother became a dentist, another became an opera singer, and his sister became an art teacher.
Jun 03 2019
Charles Dickens is one of the best-known writers in the world, and is considered to be the greatest novelist of the Victorian Era. If you live in an English-speaking country, you probably read Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and A Christmas Carol in school. His work became so popular, it even sparked the creation of the world “Dickensian” to describe his style. So, why is Charles Dickens’ work considered to be so good that it has inspired future generations? And who was the man who created all of these well-known characters?
Dec 09 2019
Prince Rogers Nelson was an American singer-songwriter, musician, record producer, dancer, actor, and filmmaker. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest musicians of his generation. A multi-instrumentalist who was considered a guitar virtuoso, he was well known for his eclectic work across multiple genres, flamboyant and androgynous persona, and wide vocal range which included a far-reaching falsetto and high-pitched screams.
Sep 11 2020
Charles I or Karl I was the last Emperor of Austria, the last King of Hungary, the last King of Bohemia, and the last monarch belonging to the House of Habsburg-Lorraine before the dissolution of Austria-Hungary.
Sep 10 2020
Austrian-born British philosopher, regarded by many as the greatest philosopher of the 20th century. Wittgenstein’s two major works, Logisch-philosophische Abhandlung (1921; Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, 1922) and Philosophische Untersuchungen (published posthumously in 1953; Philosophical Investigations), have inspired a vast secondary literature and have done much to shape subsequent developments in philosophy, especially within the analytic tradition. His charismatic personality has, in addition, exerted a powerful fascination upon artists, playwrights, poets, novelists, musicians, and even filmmakers, so that his fame has spread far beyond the confines of academic life.
Sep 09 2020
Ginette Dior, better known as Catherine Dior, was a French Resistance fighter during World War II. Involved with the Franco-Polish intelligence unit F2 from November 1941, she was arrested in Paris in July 1944 by the Gestapo, then tortured and deported to the Ravensbrück women concentration camp.
Sep 08 2020
Russian physiologist known chiefly for his development of the concept of the conditioned reflex. In a now-classic experiment, he trained a hungry dog to salivate at the sound of a metronome or buzzer, which was previously associated with the sight of food. He developed a similar conceptual approach, emphasizing the importance of conditioning, in his pioneering studies relating human behaviour to the nervous system. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1904 for his work on digestive secretions.
Sep 07 2020
Born in Georgia in 1860, Jefferson Randolph Smith went west while still a young man, finding work as a cowboy in Texas. Smith eventually tired of the hard work and low wages offered by the cowboy life, though, and discovered that he could make more money with less effort by convincing gullible westerners to part with their cash in clever confidence games.
Sep 04 2020
Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, was an English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of Britain's North American colonies.
Sep 03 2020
In today’s video we are covering our first Saint worshipped both by the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, revered for having first introduced Christianity amongst the Rus. These were a pagan people of Nordic descent, who ruled over a vast land in the early Middle Ages, from the Baltic to the Black Sea. But her holy title should not fool you, as she did not dedicate her life solely to prayer and converting the heathen. This Saint was a ruler, the regent of the Principality of Kiev, and one of the most powerful women of the early Middle Ages.
Sep 02 2020
Norman Ernest Borlaug was an American agronomist who led initiatives worldwide that contributed to the extensive increases in agricultural production termed the Green Revolution.
Sep 01 2020
Louis was the son of Louis XIII and his Spanish queen, Anne of Austria. He succeeded his father on May 14, 1643. At the age of four years and eight months, he was, according to the laws of the kingdom, not only the master but the owner of the bodies and property of 19 million subjects. Although he was saluted as “a visible divinity,” he was, nonetheless, a neglected child given over to the care of servants. He once narrowly escaped drowning in a pond because no one was watching him. Anne of Austria, who was to blame for this negligence, inspired him with a lasting fear of “crimes committed against God.”
Aug 31 2020
Douglas Noel Adams was an English author, screenwriter, essayist, humorist, satirist and dramatist. Adams was author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which originated in 1978 as a BBC radio comedy before developing into a "trilogy" of five books that sold more than 15 million copies in his lifetime and generated a television series, several stage plays, comics, a video game, and in 2005 a feature film. Adams's contribution to UK radio is commemorated in The Radio Academy's Hall of Fame.
Aug 28 2020
Alfred Russel Wallace was a British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist, biologist and illustrator. He is best known for independently conceiving the theory of evolution through natural selection; his paper on the subject was jointly published with some of Charles Darwin's writings in 1858. This prompted Darwin to publish On the Origin of Species.
Like Darwin, Wallace did extensive fieldwork; first in the Amazon River basin, and then in the Malay Archipelago, where he identified the faunal divide now termed the Wallace Line, which separates the Indonesian archipelago into two distinct parts: a western portion in which the animals are largely of Asian origin, and an eastern portion where the fauna reflect Australasia.
Aug 27 2020
Without a doubt, one of the most exciting periods in history was the Industrial Revolution. At perhaps no other time was there a greater feeling that the sky was the limit. Innovations happened one after another and they all seemed destined to change the world forever.
Assuredly, one of the most important novelties of the 19th century was the railway. It marked a decisive shift in how people could travel the world. Distances that previously seemed unreachable were now just a day or two away. And we might have never enjoyed this revolution without George Stephenson, a man aptly named the “Father of the Railways.”
Aug 26 2020
Today’s protagonist is universally recognised as one of the greatest science fiction writers in the history of literature. He won the Hugo and Nebula Awards, among many others, and is best remembered as the inventor of Robotics -- the brilliant mind that conceived the Foundation series and the concept of Psychohistory.
During his long writing career, Isaac Asimov hopped back and forth between science fiction and mystery novels, essays, non-fiction textbooks, literary commentaries and dissertations on humour. He authored or edited nearly 500 books in his lifetime, including an average of 10 or more publications every year during his most prolific production period.
Aug 24 2020
The year is 30 BC. In the grand Egyptian capital of Alexandria, panic is sweeping the streets. A mighty Roman fleet is bearing down on the city, bringing fire, destruction. In a half-finished mausoleum, Cleopatra and her lover Mark Antony await the inevitable. Antony’s stomach has already been sliced open, and now the great general is merely waiting to die. As Roman boots pound the streets, the wounded man orders one last cup of wine. Then, as his lover looks on, he offers her a final toast before everything goes black.
Aug 21 2020
Looking back on humanity’s achievements, you can pinpoint certain landmark moments that changed the world forever. One such moment was, undoubtedly, the birth of the automobile which, like rail transport before it and aviation afterwards, completely revolutionized how humans moved around.
Many people deserve credit for this achievement. As you are about to find out, the concept of the “first car in the world” is, by no means, a settled matter, but the lion’s share of the accolades goes to Karl Benz who designed and built what is regarded by many as the true first automobile.
Aug 20 2020
Can money truly bring happiness? Well, if you ask King Croesus, then the answer is a resounding “yes.” He ruled over the kingdom of Lydia at a time when it was one of the wealthiest and most powerful kingdoms on the planet. He amassed untold riches the likes of which the world had never seen. He spurred on the world economy by issuing the first gold coins.
And yet...it all came crashing down in the end. Ever fickle, fortune abandoned Croesus and he witnessed his once-mighty kingdom crumble to dust and become just a small part of an even bigger, more powerful empire. And, if oracles are to be believed, this had all been part of a prophecy over 100 years in the making as Croesus had been destined to pay for the sins of his ancestors.
Aug 19 2020
The works of James Joyce — particularly Ulysses and Finegans Wake — are almost universally considered classics, but they're a little different than most of the great works of literature that have been read for decades — if not centuries — in all corners of the world.
They're notorious amongst their peers: they're among the most dense and difficult books to try to read. They're full of obscure language, made-up words, and pages that just dissolve into a bizarre, stream-of-consciousness narratives.
Aug 18 2020
Human history is littered with people who changed the world, only to have their achievements erased from popular memory. Gay men like computing pioneer Alan Turing, women like mathematician Ada Lovelace, even pure oddballs like Nikola Tesla were left out the curriculum for decades. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. On the internet, everyone from the Navajo code talkers, to NASA’s black, female number crunchers are having their stories told.
Aug 17 2020
Robert Louis Stevenson holds a special place in the hearts and minds of many readers. He often served as an introduction to real, grown-up books. Stories like Kidnapped and Treasure Island may be considered classics, but they're also full of adventure and intrigue — the sort of stories that make you wish you were one of his characters, sailing the high seas, looking for buried treasure, fighting to reclaim your legacy.
Aug 14 2020