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Showing 1-10 of 25 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 35 reviews
on January 27, 2017
I learned a lot amount these great Americans!
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on December 8, 2013
This book covers a history neglected in school in colorful context. It provides enough information to encourage further investigation. The biographies are both brief enough and interesting enough to encourage non history buffs to read on. Makes you wonder why history in school is such a turn off to so many. I've bought copies for my adult grand children and my anti Fracking sister-in-law who is unaware of the history of such struggles in our country.
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on December 1, 2014
A very good primer/reminder of the many people who struggled for social justice. Keep in mind the subtitle about social justice. These are all activists in that realm. And it's 100 of them, so nothing in depth. With those parameters in mind it's a really good introduction and summary of these people. Many you'll already be aware of, and some not.
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on February 5, 2014
I chose this book because I am interested in biographies of famous and influential Americans.
The biographies are brief and well written. It's a great book when you have just ten minutes before bed or in the dr. or dentist's office or just about anytime.
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on May 18, 2014
Did you know that Wisconsin was a hotbed for socialist politics during the 20's and 30's. Read about many of the unsung heroes who played a major role in shaping the US and were instrumental in shaping our nation through social and political influence
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VINE VOICEon August 15, 2012
This is a book that every progressive and history buff will want to own. It is an excellent overview of key figures in 20th Century American progressive movements, thus making it a useful reference book to keep on the shelf of a home library. The thumbnail bios of the 100 people included in author Peter Dreier's "social justice hall of fame" are concise and easy to read, making this a book that I will return to again and again to refresh my memory of who was who and what they accomplished.

Dreier's introduction, in which he explains his criteria for selecting the 100, is a good read in itself. The author explains what in his view makes someone great, and it is more than just having an idea, or even of acting on that idea to achieve results. Ultimately, says Dreier, greatness in a social justice context may be applied only to those whose ideas had "moral force." Americans "who may have been great in their specific fields of endeavor, but who did not contribute to making America a more just, equal or democratic society" are omitted from this particular collection. He mentions a few of those who, although highly influential, did not make the cut, including Bill Gates, Ronald Reagan, Walt Disney, Babe Ruth, James Watson and Ernest Hemingway. Some of those, explains Dreier, "actively opposed movements for social justice." This made me think of Reagan's comment that ketchup should be considered a vegetable in school lunches and of Walt Disney naming names, falsely, in front of the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee.

That is not to say that those individuals who are included in the book are unadulterated good guys. In fact, one of the subheads in the introduction is "Heroes not Saints," in which Dreier points out that some of his choices "expressed views that many progressives considered objectionable." He mentions a few, including poor old Margaret Sanger, who often serves as the scapegoat illustration of progressives' mistakes. It is well known that Sanger was a supporter of eugenics, yet her work with the African-American community is far less recognized, even though W.E.B. DuBois approved of her work in New York's Harlem and Martin Luther King Jr. praised her in his acceptance speech for the Margaret Sanger Award in 1966.

The troubling views of Sanger and others included in the book "may be understandable in their historical context," writes Dreier. "It is important to recognize that although these 100 individuals were pioneers in most aspects of their thinking, they could not entirely transcend the political realities and social prejudices of their times." He then goes on to name a number of people who were left out of the book, even though they were "courageous, heroic and visionary thinkers."

We can quibble forever about who is in and who is out, why someone should be included and someone else not, just as we can find some people's "mistakes" forgivable and others' not. It may all come down to how closely each of us is affected by that person's achievements. Why, for example, am I able to forgive Sanger for eugenics but not forgive Reagan for his lack of attention to the AIDS epidemic? The answer, I believe, lies in the relative value I place on each person's contributions to the American people, which in Reagan's case would be none at all. The bottom line, then, is to understand Dreier's criteria and evaluate the worth of his book within that context. So while I might wonder why Dylan and Springsteen are included and Lennon omitted (probably because he was a permanent resident of the US but not a citizen), the main point is that the book has 100 profiles of people, many unsung and overlooked, who are responsible for moving America closer to the ideals expressed in its founding documents. In that sense, this is a book worth owning.
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on January 20, 2015
While many people could have been included in the top 100, the selection was interesting and valuable reading. Liked the extended list in the introduction and hope efforts are made to recognize the 1000s of people who make a true difference in our society.
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on October 31, 2013
If one day you want to look back on your life and say you've made a difference, there may be no better place to look for blueprints to build something noble, meaningful and lasting than Dreier's compendium of social justice heroes and heroines.

Remember Margaret Mead's quote, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."? Here are the stories of so many who have lived that life.

I'm thrilled to have my copy of The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame. This digest presents a look at last century's greatest, and some of what people are already doing in the 21st.

Without the commitment and dedication of these and more, the fight we face today would be deeper and darker.

I find it to be tremendously inspiring.

Join me in changing the world. It is within our reach.
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on December 24, 2013
This item was on the Christmas Gift List of a favorite nephew. He was unable to find it in the local bookstores, and was very pleased to receive it as a gift.
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on December 18, 2013
Extremely interesting. Americans who have affected change who are not necessarily famous or well known. Good book to have handy to use as a reference.
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