First things first: I LOVE THIS BOOK! Okay, now that I've gotten that off my chest, let's move on.
The authors of 1,000 Years, 1,000 People are Agnes Hooper Gottlieb, Henry Gottlieb, Barbara Bowers and Brent Bowers. They've culled history and compiled 1,000 brief bios of anyone who was anyone during the past 1,000 years. The book, obviously, was meant to coincide with the 2,000 Millennium hoopla and that's when I picked up a copy.
It's so much fun to cruise through this book. Every page has some delightful historical tidbit about this one or that one - people you will have heard about and people you didn't have a clue about. That's the intriguing part, learning about people who've been forgotten in the mists of time but who, in some way, shape or form, contributed to humanity's progress.
So of the numbered thousand - who is Numero Uno? Who else?
If not for Gutenberg, Columbus might never have set sail, Shakespeare's genius could have died with him, and Martin Luther's Ninety-five Theses would have hung on that door unheeded. In fact, without mass quantities of books to burn, the Inquisition would have fallen flat on its face. The printing press, developed by goldsmith Gutenberg in the 1430's, helped spread truth, beauty, and yes, heresy throughout the world. We know the Chinese had movable type for centuries before Gutenberg, but they used it for silk printing, not books.
Gutenberg, however, always had publishing in mind. Copies of his first major project, the Bible, survive today. He worked for years to perfect his system of movable type and a press that could mass-produce books, leaflets and propaganda. What little is known about Gutenberg comes from the many lawsuits filed against him for rights to the invention.
But no one successfully challenged Gutenberg's place as the Western inventor of movable type and the printing press. Because his press unharnessed the power of ideas on the world, we rank him ahead of the people whose ideas found an audience through printing.
I believe I do agree with Gutenberg's ranking. What do you think?
According to these authors, The Top Ten of the Millennium are:
Leonardo Da Vinci
Ludwig Von Beethoven
(Michelangelo comes in at 13.)
A very fun book if you are at all interested in the building blocks of history - in the way the past shapes the future. Or if you just want to pick up a few facts about people whose names you've heard of somewhere, sometime.
For me, this is the ultimate list of lists.
Forgotten Book Friday is the weekly meme hosted by Patti Abbott at PATTINASE. Don't forget to check in at her blog to see what other forgotten books other bloggers are posting about today.
Since some of us were perturbed at the lack of women in the Top Ten - well, I wasn't, but others were and since I aim to please - here are some women in history and their rankings by the authors of 1,000 Years, 1,000 People:
Elizabeth I of England is the top ranked woman - she comes in at 31.
Mary Wolstonecraft - 45
Marie Curie - 75
Joan of Arc - 83
Elizabeth Cady Stanton - 86
Queen Victoria - 91
Margaret Sanger - 99
Speaking as a woman, I think this is fine. This is not, after all, a politically correct sort of list.
Though I would wish that Marco Polo had come in higher than 66.
And the Wright brothers had come in higher than 22 and 23.
I wish Winston Churchill had come in higher than Hitler.
And that Alexander Graham Bell had come in higher than 74.
But on the whole, I'm satisfied with most of this.
By the way, Rosa Parks came in at 944.
Albert Einstein is 17. (I think he definitely should have been higher than Sigmund Freud.)
Gandhi comes in at 12.
...and the others you've mentioned are sprinkled within. There are a thousand listings after all.