History vs…: a TED-Ed Lesson playlist


“History has remembered the kings and warriors, because they destroyed; art has remembered the people, because they created,” wrote William Morris. To learn how 7 notorious leaders are remembered by history, watch the TED-Ed Lessons below:

1. History vs. Richard Nixon

The president of the United States of America is often said to be one of the most powerful positions in the world. But of all the US presidents accused of abusing that power, only one has left office as a result. Does Richard Nixon deserve to be remembered for more than the scandal that ended his presidency? Alex Gendler puts this disgraced president’s legacy on trial. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

2. History vs. Vladimir Lenin

Vladimir Lenin overthrew Russian Czar Nicholas II and founded the Soviet Union, forever changing the course of Russian politics. But was he a hero who toppled an oppressive tyranny or a villain who replaced it with another? Alex Gendler puts this controversial figure on trial, exploring both sides of a nearly century-long debate. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

3. History vs. Genghis Khan

He was one of the most fearsome warlords who ever lived, waging an unstoppable conquest across the Eurasian continent. But was Genghis Khan a vicious barbarian or a unifier who paved the way for the modern world? Alex Gendler puts this controversial figure on trial in History vs Genghis Khan. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

4. History vs. Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson was both beloved and loathed during his presidency. In this imaginary courtroom, you get to be the jury, considering and weighing Jackson’s part in the spoils system, economic depression, and the Indian Removal Act, as well as his patriotism and the pressures of the presidency. James Fester explores how time shapes our relationship to controversial historical figures. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

5. History vs. Napoleon Bonaparte

After the French Revolution erupted in 1789, Europe was thrown into chaos. Neighboring countries’ monarchs feared they would share the fate of Louis XVI and attacked the new Republic, while at home, extremism and mistrust between factions led to bloodshed. In the midst of all this conflict, Napoleon emerged. But did he save the revolution, or destroy it? Alex Gendler puts Napoleon on trial. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

6. History vs. Christopher Columbus

Many people in the United States and Latin America have grown up celebrating the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s voyage. But was he an intrepid explorer who brought two worlds together or a ruthless exploiter who brought colonialism and slavery? And did he even discover America at all? Alex Gendler puts Columbus on the stand in History vs. Christopher Columbus. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

7. History vs. Cleopatra

She was the most notorious woman in ancient history, a queen who enraptured not one but two of Rome’s greatest generals. But was she just a skilled seductress – or a great ruler in her own right? Alex Gendler puts this controversial figure on trial in History vs. Cleopatra. Watch this TED-Ed Lesson below.

Art credit: Brett Underhill/TED-Ed

To get brand new TED-Ed Lessons delivered to your inbox each week, sign up for the free TED-Ed Newsletter here >>


  1. kevin

    Good job with history vs… I hope you can put links of your or any website’s articles discussing much deeper the debate or the life of each characters. Please also tackle more personalities including Che Guevarra, Fidel Castro, Mao Ze Dong, North Korean Dictators, and some more presidents of the united states. You can also tackle some “terrorist” who may or may not really pushed reforms in their countries.

    I also hope you can provide a tutorial on how to do animations like you do. Thank you.

  2. Woa! I enjoyed going through this. It is really interesting. I also run a blog on Nigerian history, you can check it out at http://www.oldnaija.com

  3. Maria

    These were so fascinating! I’d love for you to do other historical figures, such as Robespierre.

  4. Eric

    These are really great videos

Comments are closed.