Any book that pictures Bruce Lee, Evel Knievel, and Marie Curie
on the front cover is, in my mind, worth at least a second look. In
the case of Michael Hearst's Extraordinary People: A Semi-
Comprehensive Guide to Some of the World's Most Fascinating
Individuals it's worth a cover to cover read. Hearst has an
intriguing description for what makes folks extraordinary.
"Well, it could be any number of traits or qualities, or even
circumstances...or a combination thereof. Some of the obvious labels
might include 'Scientist,' 'Daredevil,' and 'Humanitarian.' But what
about somebody who is extraordinary because he survived a near-death
experience? Or because she overcame discrimination?..."
You know you'll find an eclectic lot. Some of the honorees are
pretty well known. You'll learn about:
*Marie Curie who was the first woman to win the Nobel in 1903
(physics). In 1911 she won a Nobel in chemistry. Do you know her
notebooks are so radioactive they are still locked up?
*Fred Rogers, the star of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, beloved by
generations of human children and Koko the gorilla.
Did you know that he loathed television? He made the best of the
inevitable by using it to nurture and educate children.
*Benjamin Franklin who did just about everything from discovering
scientific laws and creating inventions to helping found a nation.
Did you know he never took out patents on his inventions? He felt
everyone should have access to them.
See, there are new things to learn about even his most famous
Then there are the fascinating individuals most of us wouldn't
otherwise hear about. Some of my favorites are:
*Jeanne de Clisson, a woman pirate who plundered French ships. Her
husband had been sentenced to death by the king. She was out for
*Hildegard of Bingen who was, among other things, a musical composer,
philosopher, and writer. She had popes and kings consulting her back
in the Middle Ages.
*Stagecoach Mary who got a job with the U. S. Post Office when she was
sixty, becoming the first African American woman mail carrier. With
perfect attendance she surely lived up to her professional creed.
Under any circumstances the mail must be delivered.
Yeah, I know, my feminist bias is showing.
Besides being entertaining and amusing, the book contains some
really inspirational portraits. For example, there's Malala
Yousafzai, the very young woman who continued fighting for girls'
education even after being shot in the head by the Taliban. We can
learn so much from her courage and determination.
On a personal note, Hearst asks if we are extraordinary. In my rather
biased opinion I am. I'm extraordinarily stubborn. I lost my first
two school board elections but won my third, showing that someone from
the looked down on part of town could succeed. I'm vice chair now in
my eleventh year. I refused to get an abortion twenty-three years ago
when the doctor pushed for it because he couldn't tell if the lump on
my breast was cancer. The daughter whose right to life I respected
graduated college summa cum laude. I'm able to look beyond just
accepting or rejecting what is on the table to envision other
possibilities. And in this chaotic age I am mindfully centered, able
to enjoy all life has to offer from a sunrise to my cat's affection.
Oh, yeah, and I perform as a (trophy winning) drag king and sing in a
Methodist church choir.
A great big shout out goes out to you, my readers. What makes you
Julia Emily Hathaway
Sent from my iPod