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The 100: A Ranking Of The Most Influential Persons In History Paperback – June 1, 2000
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About the Author
- ASIN : 0806513500
- Publisher : Citadel; Revised edition (June 1, 2000)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 556 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780806513508
- ISBN-13 : 978-0806513508
- Item Weight : 2.47 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.9 x 1.7 x 9.9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #62,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Some people really stands out in terms of achievements such as Louis Pasteur, and you'll wonder why men like Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill have been left out.
The fun really is to mentally argue with the author, which I must admit is what makes the effort of going through the book valuable. I'm not giving 5 stars to the book mainly because some bios where rather stark or too technical for me, even if Hart made a nice effort to render it all in comprehensible form.
The book is entirely evaluative. It consists of very short chapters, each about one of these hundred figures. Each chapter discusses the person's life, and why Hart has ranked him or her as more or less important than the others. The criteria he seems to use are:
* How greatly did this person influence the world, especially our everyday lives?
* Would progress have happened without this person? When or how would it have been likely to happen without this person's accomplishment?
* Did this person do it alone, or with the help of others?
Hart has an amazing overview of world history, and his perspective is often different from the norm, or certainly from what is presented in textbooks. Each person I read about, I've read about elsewhere; but Hart consistently pulls together the information in a way that makes it finally make sense to me. He dispels many common myths about world history along the way.
I wish Michael Hart would write another book about his second 100 most influential people!!
This list contained a few people I had never heard of, but clearly were a lot more influential then many of the people I thought were the most influential. Take, for example, "Ts'ai Lun" the inventor of paper (China 105 AD), who is ranked number 7. Largely because of the existence of paper China was able to develop into a powerful and united empire, and when paper reached Europe it had a profound influence on Western Civilization as well. Would there even be a modern Western Civilization without Ts'ai Lun?
Because of paper we don't need to use clay tablets, sheep skin, papyrus, or bamboo to write. Printing presses and the mass production of books and newspapers has been made possible because of paper. We also have paper money, toilet paper, and paper products thanks to Ts'ai Lun. Clearly fame and influence are two very different things. Keep this in mind before disagreeing with Hart too quickly.
Also note that the book ranks the most influential people in history, not the greatest, not the noblest, not the most outstanding people, and not the most important people in history. The grand father who spends several hours each day to help raise your child, educate him, and spends his money on him, clearly has a large influence on you and your family, but so does the drunk driver who kills your child. It is quite easy to have a negative influence on people, but negative influences are considered in this book. So this is why people like Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and Genghis Khan, are on the list.
36 of the 100 persons in the list are scientists and inventors. Some think this is too many, I think this is rather too few. Because of technology and science the world has been transformed from a planet with abundant misery and death to a planet with just some misery and death. It used to be that more than half of all kids died, the average life span was 30, and almost everyone was dirt poor and ignorant. Today the average lifespan in the third world is 67, infant mortality is way down, starvation relatively less wide spread, and analphabetism is no longer the norm. Just in case someone has missed it, the reason for the population explosion is that people stopped dying like flies.
Many have complained that the rank of Shakespeare is too low. Edward de Vere (William Shakespeare) is number 31 and Edward Jenner is number 70. Edward Jenner invented the smallpox vaccine. Smallpox killed more than 300 million people in the 20th century (which is roughly 7-8% of all deaths in the 20th century). Since 1979 no one has died from small pox because vaccination has eradicated it. Shakespeare was a play write that was influential on the English language. I had never read or heard much about Shakespeare until I moved to the U.S. (I am not a native English speaker). It seems to me that the two Edwards should switch rank. In any case Shakespeare's position on the list is not that bad. Whomever you would like to see on this list, everyone has their viewpoint. My list will not look like yours, or Harts, but Harts list is quite enlightening.
What makes this a good book is the fact that it makes you think about who the influential people really were and why. It is also a good book to teach children about history and the people who influenced it. It is also a fun biography collection.