Icons of Influence
of the Twentieth Century
Six men dominate the political history of the twentieth century: Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Roosevelt, and Churchill.
Four - Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and Mao - created barbaric dictatorships. Two - Roosevelt and Churchill - were democractic leaders who saved the world from tyranny.
Great democratic leaders have to be great persuaders. Without the consent of the people, they are rendered impotent. Dictators such as Hitler and Stalin, who used murder, torture, and arbitrary arrest to shore up support and destroy dissent, cannot be seriously considered great persuaders. In a century of tumultuous change, Roosevelt and Churchill stand out as two heroic giants.
In today's image-driven world, Roosevelt and Churchill seem unlikely candidates for greatness as persuaders. Roosevelt was certainly the more handsome of the two, but, crippled by polio, he had to lead and cajole from the confines of a wheelchair. Churchill was “short and fat,” “pink and cuddly,” said one journalists wife.