The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived

The 101 Most Influential People Who Never LivedThe 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived
by Allan Lazar, Jeremy Salter, Dan Karlan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When I first came across this book I was hoping for a thought-provoking read about how we’ve influenced both our culture and social identity not only by the things we do, but by the things we make up.  Sounded intriguing!  And, as a college Philosophy major myself, when I learned the authors were also philosophers I expected to be in for a real treat.

I wasn’t.

In retrospect, I wish whoever wrote the preface had actually written the rest of the book.  The tone set in the preface is completely betrayed by the chapters which follow.  Have you ever been to see a movie you were really looking forward to watching only to have someone talk through it and completely ruin the experience for you?  Yeah.  This book was that for me.

As books of lists go, this is a good one with plenty of unexpected “influential” characters included.  Some are obvious and still others were delightful surprises.  I had more than a few “ah ha” moments reading it.  Nevertheless, on balance this book feels a lot like someone invested a great deal of time and research to create an interesting reference work then, fearing it was too boring, decided cracking jokes throughout it would liven things up.

It didn’t.

Sure, some of the humor actually is funny.  But the humor only helped me to a greater appreciation of the particular character being explored once.  Maybe twice.  In the whole book.  While most of the humor is too sarcastic to mistake (or to overlook), on the occasions when a more subtle form is employed I found it difficult to know if the authors were presenting some fascinating new little-known nugget of truth they had discovered or if they were just cracking jokes.  Again.

Based on my experience of the book, I actually considered giving this only one 1 star. However, the authors obviously put a lot of work into gathering this information.  And that’s worth a star all by itself.

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