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Nice Things to Say About Attila the Hun

(Original essay by Mike Dash at The Smithsonian Magazine...)

"His real name was Attila, King of the Huns, and even today the mention of it jangles some atavistic panic bell deep within civilized hearts. For Edward Gibbon—no great admirer of the Roman Empire that the Huns ravaged repeatedly between 434 and 453 A.D.—Attila was a “savage destroyer” of whom it was said that “the grass never grew on the spot where his horse had trod.” For the Roman historian Jordanes, he was “a man born into the world to shake the nations.” As recently as a century ago, when the British wanted to emphasize how barbarous and how un-English their opponents in the First World War had grown—how very far they had fallen short in their sense of honor, justice and fair play—they called the Germans “Huns.”

Yet there are those who think we have much to learn from a people who came apparently from nowhere to force the mighty Roman Empire almost to its knees. A few years ago now, Wess Roberts made a bestseller out of a book titled Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun by arguing that—for blood-spattered barbarians—the Huns had plenty to teach American executives about “win-directed, take-charge management.” And Bill Madden reported, in his biography of George Steinbrenner, that the one-time owner of the New York Yankees was in the habit of studying Attila in the hope of gaining insights that would prove invaluable in business. Attila, Steinbrenner asserted, “wasn’t perfect, but he did have some good things to say..."


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 8th, 2012 06:54 am (UTC)
Attila, Steinbrenner asserted, “wasn’t perfect, but he did have some good things to say..."

He was just misunderstood. OK, the Huns did some raping and pillaging and murdering, but that was just high sprits. You know what tourists are like. Sometimes they steal a few towels from hotel rooms, have a few too many drinks, raze the occasional city to the ground, stuff like that.
Feb. 8th, 2012 01:45 pm (UTC)
Doesn't sound that much worse than American tourists in Montreal on St. Patrick's Day, really. 'Slightly less green vomit, perhaps.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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