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The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, is a book by Michael H. Hart. As the subtitle announces, the book consists of a list of historical figures ordered by Hart's opinion of their influence on the world. Each individual gets a short biography, usually about five pages long, that emphasizes the person's influence on the world and includes an explanation of why they are ranked where they are in the book. Because the list is based on influence, it is somewhat different than if it were based on greatness. For instance, Hitler gets in, but Gandhi doesn't (although he does get an honorable mention at the end of the book).

I like this book for a couple of reasons: first, it puts a lot of brief biographies in one place, and second, Hart's rankings and his reasons for them are fascinating, even if you don't agree with them. For instance, Hart lists Muhammad as the most influential person ever, because "he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels."

Hart also recognizes that a list such as this will change over time. The 100 was first published in 1978, but Hart revised and updated it in 1992. This revision primarily involved several changes to rankings based on the downfall of Communism, the addition of three people (Mikhail Gorbachev, Ernest Rutherford, and Henry Ford), and the removal of three (Niels Bohr, Pablo Picasso, and Antoine Henri Becquerel). Hart has also written a book entitled A View from the Year 3000: A Ranking of the 100 Most Influential Persons of All Time, which is essentially a rewrite of The 100 from a science fictional perspective. And The 100 has inspired several books by other authors, including The Jewish 100, The Literary 100, The Scientific 100, The World War II 100, and The 100 Most Influential Women of All Time.

Below is the beginning of Hart's list from The 100. Spelling is his, but some names are pipe linked to matching nodes with different spellings.

  1. Muhammad
  2. Isaac Newton
  3. Jesus Christ
  4. Buddha
  5. Confucius
  6. St. Paul
  7. Ts'ai Lun
  8. Johann Gutenberg
  9. Christopher Columbus
  10. Albert Einstein
  11. Louis Pasteur
  12. Galileo Galilei
  13. Aristotle
  14. Euclid
  15. Moses
  16. Charles Darwin
  17. Shih Huang Ti
  18. Augustus Caesar
  19. Nicolaus Copernicus
  20. Antoine Laurent Lavoisier

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