New Review from Robert Elias in Peace Review

What makes a person a “great” American? The question lies at the heart of the book, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century. According to the author, Peter Dreier, a “great” individual displays a “commitment to social justice and a record of accomplishment, of using their talents to help achieve important progressive change.” His “greatest” include “organizers and activists who mobilized or led grassroots movements for democracy and equality.” Or, they were “writers, musicians, artists, editors, scientists, lawyers, athletes, and intellectuals who challenged prevailing ideas and inspired Americans to believe a better society was possible.” Or they might have been politicians who “gave voice to social justice movements in the corridors of power and translated their concerns into new laws that changed society.” Using those guidelines, and what seems to be his near-encyclopedic knowledge of the history of twentieth-century political and social movements, Dreier lays out his choices, chronologically, in one hundred, short, provocative biographical essays.

Download the full review (PDF)

Robert Elias (2013) Peter Dreier, The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame, Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, 25:2, 322-325, DOI: 10.1080/10402659.2013.785790

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