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Die 101 einflussreichsten Personen, die es nie gab - Wie Barbie, James Bond und Hamlet uns verändert haben

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Sie denken, der US-Präsident wäre der einflussreichste Mann der Welt? Weit gefehlt! Es ist der Marlboro-Man. Dies ist das ungewöhnlichste Who-is-Who, das Sie jemals lesen werden. Erfahren Sie alles über 101 prominente Personen, die es nur in der Fiktion gibt, die unsere Kultur aber bis heute beeinflussen. Wussten Sie zum Beispiel, dass viele amerikanische Briefwähler gerne Sie denken, der US-Präsident wäre der einflussreichste Mann der Welt? Weit gefehlt! Es ist der Marlboro-Man. Dies ist das ungewöhnlichste Who-is-Who, das Sie jemals lesen werden. Erfahren Sie alles über 101 prominente Personen, die es nur in der Fiktion gibt, die unsere Kultur aber bis heute beeinflussen. Wussten Sie zum Beispiel, dass viele amerikanische Briefwähler gerne Mickey Mouse als Präsidenten hätten oder dass der Weihnachtsmann der reichste Mann der Erde ist?


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Sie denken, der US-Präsident wäre der einflussreichste Mann der Welt? Weit gefehlt! Es ist der Marlboro-Man. Dies ist das ungewöhnlichste Who-is-Who, das Sie jemals lesen werden. Erfahren Sie alles über 101 prominente Personen, die es nur in der Fiktion gibt, die unsere Kultur aber bis heute beeinflussen. Wussten Sie zum Beispiel, dass viele amerikanische Briefwähler gerne Sie denken, der US-Präsident wäre der einflussreichste Mann der Welt? Weit gefehlt! Es ist der Marlboro-Man. Dies ist das ungewöhnlichste Who-is-Who, das Sie jemals lesen werden. Erfahren Sie alles über 101 prominente Personen, die es nur in der Fiktion gibt, die unsere Kultur aber bis heute beeinflussen. Wussten Sie zum Beispiel, dass viele amerikanische Briefwähler gerne Mickey Mouse als Präsidenten hätten oder dass der Weihnachtsmann der reichste Mann der Erde ist?

30 review for Die 101 einflussreichsten Personen, die es nie gab - Wie Barbie, James Bond und Hamlet uns verändert haben

  1. 4 out of 5

    Trin

    Supposedly a discussion of “How Characters of Fiction, Myth, Legends, Television, and Movies Have Shaped Our Society, Changed Our Behavior, and Set the Course of History”—to quote the rather lengthy subtitle—this book instead presents 101 explanations of who 101 characters are—there’s almost no analysis at all of why they are important or how they did any of the things the subtitle loftily claims. I could have gleaned the same information by clicking around to 101 random Wikipedia entries. The W Supposedly a discussion of “How Characters of Fiction, Myth, Legends, Television, and Movies Have Shaped Our Society, Changed Our Behavior, and Set the Course of History”—to quote the rather lengthy subtitle—this book instead presents 101 explanations of who 101 characters are—there’s almost no analysis at all of why they are important or how they did any of the things the subtitle loftily claims. I could have gleaned the same information by clicking around to 101 random Wikipedia entries. The Wiki entries could very well have proven to be better written, too. (Yes, you heard me correctly: I’d give Wikipedia 50/50 odds in the Good Writing Bowl against this contender.) Lazar and his coauthors are suffering from a very bad case of thinking they are much, much funnier than they actually are. I found it annoying. Would you like me to count the ways?

  2. 5 out of 5

    Nicky

    I thought this might be an interesting read, if it went into why and how these 'most influential people who never lived' have impacted us, but it turned out to be quite disappointing. The list is interesting in itself, but the essays on each character/story explain only who the character is and where they came from, rather than how (and even how much) they've influenced modern society. There's some interesting titbits, but it wasn't what I hoped it would be. I thought this might be an interesting read, if it went into why and how these 'most influential people who never lived' have impacted us, but it turned out to be quite disappointing. The list is interesting in itself, but the essays on each character/story explain only who the character is and where they came from, rather than how (and even how much) they've influenced modern society. There's some interesting titbits, but it wasn't what I hoped it would be.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Well, this book is not what it purports to be. Yes, it lists 101 characters that have influenced pop culture and, I will barely grant this, in some cases, actual history. But it spends most of its time recapping the fiction. Fine, yes, it is good to know, but with the subtitle, I was expecting the authors to, you know, back up their outrageous claims! It was enjoyable to think about the characters and about their significance to me and my life, but I swear to you, just brainstorming what I though Well, this book is not what it purports to be. Yes, it lists 101 characters that have influenced pop culture and, I will barely grant this, in some cases, actual history. But it spends most of its time recapping the fiction. Fine, yes, it is good to know, but with the subtitle, I was expecting the authors to, you know, back up their outrageous claims! It was enjoyable to think about the characters and about their significance to me and my life, but I swear to you, just brainstorming what I thought of in reading the book would've gone much further to support their thesis than anything they actually wrote and published did. I would love to write this book myself. Even better, I would love to edit this book, gathering essays from people who are experts in different fields. The most interesting essay was the one about Dracula, which was actually a "letter" from one of their friends chiding them for even considering leaving him out. (Which, word.) So, yeah, have people submit an essay about their choice for the most-influential fictional character, with their work shown! I don't regret reading it, however.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    I very much enjoyed this book. The authors are amusing and give very interesting information about each individual included in their list. It's interesting to realize the effects that some of these creatures/characters have had on the world and society. I highly recommend it! Thanks to my friend Kira for giving it to me! :D I very much enjoyed this book. The authors are amusing and give very interesting information about each individual included in their list. It's interesting to realize the effects that some of these creatures/characters have had on the world and society. I highly recommend it! Thanks to my friend Kira for giving it to me! :D

  5. 4 out of 5

    Yenny

    From Betty Boop to Marlboro Man, from The Great Gatsby to Hercules, this is a book that fiction lovers would like to have. I love fictions and this book with brief explanations of Characters succeed in making me curious and read books about them.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jack

    I love book lists and list books. The best movies, the worst presidents, the best science fiction, the worst rock and roll songs… Lists are interesting and they are fun. So, the 101 most influential people who NEVER lived? Must be a winner. Or maybe not… Actually the list is ok; wide-ranging, some surprises, good choices and bad, pretty subjective and open to debate. Exactly what you would want from such a list. But the writing… When the authors are not interviewing their dog, Yogi, about some cha I love book lists and list books. The best movies, the worst presidents, the best science fiction, the worst rock and roll songs… Lists are interesting and they are fun. So, the 101 most influential people who NEVER lived? Must be a winner. Or maybe not… Actually the list is ok; wide-ranging, some surprises, good choices and bad, pretty subjective and open to debate. Exactly what you would want from such a list. But the writing… When the authors are not interviewing their dog, Yogi, about some character or other, they write the puerile, self-congratulatory, smug, sarcastic, not quite successfully wry prose that I found in the literary magazine at my all-boy high school more than 40 years ago. Actually it’s not all prose. The Cat in The Hat submitted a 2 page poem protesting his exclusion from the initial list. And, actually, I’m not being fair to my high school classmates of long ago. Several of them became passably successful writers. Further their comments are marked by a thoughtless and reflexive liberalism and political correctness that approaches caricature. No boys, Archie Bunker did not express what ultraconservative white people said behind closed doors on topics such as rape and poverty, homosexuality, militia groups, welfare recipients, college students, and support for the Vietnam War. He expressed what liberals WANTED ultraconservative white people to say about these things. If my comments are dull or annoying, here are 310 pages filled with similar thoughts. There are two small exceptions I would like to make to my criticism. First, in the essay on Perry Mason the lawyer jokes were pretty good. Second, the essay on Amos and Andy was a little bit lengthier than others in the book and actually attempted to say something meaningful about race relations during the period from the Depression through the beginning of the Civil Rights movement into the 1960’s. The dog, Yogi, must have written it. I think the quality of their research, the insightfulness of their analyses, the depth of their reflection on their work, and the grace and profundity of their word-smithing; are all captured in the concluding statement in their essay on Oedipus: “Freud scares me, I want my mommy.”

  7. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    I like the idea of this book, which is why I read it, but I didn't like the book. I think it's true that there are many people in literature, folktales, and movies that influence us. What we read and watch shapes what we think and do. There were some interesting characters and important influences identified in this book, but it was a very random list created by the authors. I didn't agree with some on the list and really didn’t like that there was no rhyme or reason or method that helped create I like the idea of this book, which is why I read it, but I didn't like the book. I think it's true that there are many people in literature, folktales, and movies that influence us. What we read and watch shapes what we think and do. There were some interesting characters and important influences identified in this book, but it was a very random list created by the authors. I didn't agree with some on the list and really didn’t like that there was no rhyme or reason or method that helped create the list. I guess that illustrates that we choose who influences us. My list would be very different than someone else's. I don't think there was much consistency in their writing either – sometimes they just retold the story, other times they indicated why they choose the person, other times I didn't know what they were talking about since I didn't know the person that were describing. It wasn't helpful. With that said, there were a few people I liked reading about. It was kind of fun to think about how we have been influenced by Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn ("The lesson to all boys is clear: Use your imagination, and you can turn a tedious job into a rewarding adventure (p. 134)."), The Little Engine that Could ("Each of us has reserves of strength, imagination, and intelligence. If we concentrate and focus our attention, we can tap those reservoirs and meet challenges that might otherwise have seemed overwhelming (p. 170)."), Alice in Wonderland ("Be prepared for ridiculous, be prepared to be surprised. And if you learn what works in a strange world, you will be better equipped to discover what works in a more familiar world (p. 175)."), Dorothy ("When life gets us down, as it frequently does, we have all dreamed of escaping the rigors of this world and flying away to some enchanted, wonderful place over the rainbow, but it took Dorothy to get us there—where lovely little blue birds fly, beyond the rainbow—to the marvelous Land of Oz (p. 215)."), Prince Charming, Atticus Finch, Nancy Drew, Mickey Mouse, Ebenezer Scrooge, and Santa Claus.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kathrina

    Well, this is barely a three star. But I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt. I enjoyed it for the light, quick overview and the opportunity to consider some major themes on my own time, but that considering mostly happened off the page. The authors repeatedly remind us that this is not a scholarly work, and that couldn't be more true. But the project is interesting, and, from time to time, amusing. There are a few essays I'd like to hand to my 11-year-old son, just as an introduction Well, this is barely a three star. But I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt. I enjoyed it for the light, quick overview and the opportunity to consider some major themes on my own time, but that considering mostly happened off the page. The authors repeatedly remind us that this is not a scholarly work, and that couldn't be more true. But the project is interesting, and, from time to time, amusing. There are a few essays I'd like to hand to my 11-year-old son, just as an introduction to themes he's already encountering in his own reading, but just as an encouraging aside, not any kind of researched study. Though their essays don't count as any kind of justification for their characters' influence, especially the poem "written" by the Cat in the Hat, I'll throw it an extra star for it's creative and amusing perspective. Maybe too generous, but it's not worth getting angry about.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jill Hutchinson

    This is another of those "put by the lunch table" books that can be read in spurts. But the sub-title is misleading. The individuals listed in this book did not shape our society, change our behavior or set the course of history. It is more a biographical sketch of everyone from Tarzan to Sinbad the Sailor to Godzilla. It's lots of fun but it not in any sense a social history.....just a trip through time with some of our best loved fictional characters. This is another of those "put by the lunch table" books that can be read in spurts. But the sub-title is misleading. The individuals listed in this book did not shape our society, change our behavior or set the course of history. It is more a biographical sketch of everyone from Tarzan to Sinbad the Sailor to Godzilla. It's lots of fun but it not in any sense a social history.....just a trip through time with some of our best loved fictional characters.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kathryn

    I give this book 10/10 on premise and 3/10 on execution. The choice of which characters to include was obviously highly subjective (the book should have been titled 101 Characters of Myth and Legend that Influence(d) Americans, in which case I wouldn't have had a single complaint about which characters were included. But really, Archie Bunker? Buffy the Vampire Slayer? And not a single character from Celtic mythology?), many of the essays were poorly written, there was (as usual with nonfiction I give this book 10/10 on premise and 3/10 on execution. The choice of which characters to include was obviously highly subjective (the book should have been titled 101 Characters of Myth and Legend that Influence(d) Americans, in which case I wouldn't have had a single complaint about which characters were included. But really, Archie Bunker? Buffy the Vampire Slayer? And not a single character from Celtic mythology?), many of the essays were poorly written, there was (as usual with nonfiction in the early 2000s) unnecessary political commentary, and I spotted a number of factual errors. In fact, in the case of nearly any essay in which I already knew a great deal about the character, I disagreed with significant chunks of the essay. The Tarzan essay was easily the worst of these. Yes, Tarzana in California absolutely IS named after Tarzan, not the other way around, and the essay's depiction of Tarzan was so strongly influenced by Johnny Weissmueller that even as they were supposedly explaining the differences between Tarzan on screen and Tarzan on paper, they still got it completely wrong. It couldn't have been more clear that none of them had actually read even the first chapter of Tarzan of the Apes, even as they claimed to explain to us just what the book that started everything was all about. Errors on that level make me question every other essay. Some of the other essays were bizarre. The essay on the Ugly Duckling turned into a long rant on lookism and claimed that the story of the Ugly Duckling justifies lookism. I always thought the message of the story was to NOT be ugly to people about their looks, because their outside isn't their inside. (It also reassures older children that sometimes, maturity brings blessings that youth didn't.) The essays are very America-centric, which is fine; it's easy for Americans to identify what influenced their society. However, the book makes much more sweeping claims about the degree of influence exerted by the characters on its list, which makes some of the inclusions and exclusions less justifiable. Sure, the Wild Hunt doesn't mean much to Americans today, but it meant a hell of a lot to the Celts. Can you really say Buffy is more influential than the Horned King? (Is Buffy influential at all? Granted, I never watched the show, but the essay about her sounded like fanwank to me.) Sometimes the Horned King even gets identified with King Arthur, and people, even Americans, are still using him and the Wild Hunt in their fiction today. I'd say he's pretty flippin' influential. One of the best essays in the book in terms of providing correct, factual information and supporting its claims was the one on Dracula - and the authors didn't even write it. Their friend did, and they used her words (with permission, I assume). I started out with two stars, and I've almost talked myself down to one. I'll stick with two since the premise is good, and I did enjoy some of the essays. Overall, the book was an interesting read, but it's just the uninformed opinions of a few guys. It would make a great series of blog posts, but I think an actual book requires a bit more research. Or perhaps a less provocative title.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn

    Let’s be honest – I am so glad to be done with this book. I love the randomness and the obscure facts. I do not love how enamored the authors are with themselves and their damn dog. I think this is a good book to peruse when you’re waiting for someone or when you’re looking for something to talk about at a dinner party. This is not a book that I would recommend reading from cover to cover. A few things that I found thoroughly entertaining from my read: *Still cracking up from the Prince Charming Let’s be honest – I am so glad to be done with this book. I love the randomness and the obscure facts. I do not love how enamored the authors are with themselves and their damn dog. I think this is a good book to peruse when you’re waiting for someone or when you’re looking for something to talk about at a dinner party. This is not a book that I would recommend reading from cover to cover. A few things that I found thoroughly entertaining from my read: *Still cracking up from the Prince Charming section. The Velazquez idea that Prince Charming can’t recognize the love of his life so how is he going to be a good father is especially funny. *Robinson Crusoe inspired the idea of “my man Friday” which, of course, led to “my girl Friday.” *When the book was written, there had never been a president or vice-president or secretary of state Joe. I actually agree with the authors on this one – GI Joe sounds great. Vice President Joe – not so much. Do you think that’s why the Obama administration hardly lets him out to play? *Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde was on the forefront of psychology. And who said writers make things up? We’re brilliant, well at least, Robert Louis Stevenson was. Not sure about the writers that are perpetuating vampire series books in every era possible. *Any reference to the Mary Tyler Moore show makes me happy. I love that she is a symbol of women’s liberation. I never thought of that when I was watching her as a little girl on Nick at Nite (yes, that’s how they spelled night). *Buffy? REALLY? *The Barbie information is so interesting. Ironically, they reference Barbie and Ken separating in 2004. I passed a display in Target a couple days ago that “Barbie & Ken – Back Together!” I guess the famously beautiful plastic dolls have reconciled just in time for Valentine’s Day. [For more see, pickwickreaders.blogspot.com. Happy reading!]

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    This book holds in it the kernel of a really neat idea – what 101 fictional characters/myths/legends influence our lives and has affected history? But by the end I wished it had been written by someone other than this team. There were plenty or entries which kept strictly to the facts, ma’am but the zany asides at least one of the three authors tried too hard and most of the snarky jokes simply fell flat. There is a difference between something that is funny with the proper inflection or when yo This book holds in it the kernel of a really neat idea – what 101 fictional characters/myths/legends influence our lives and has affected history? But by the end I wished it had been written by someone other than this team. There were plenty or entries which kept strictly to the facts, ma’am but the zany asides at least one of the three authors tried too hard and most of the snarky jokes simply fell flat. There is a difference between something that is funny with the proper inflection or when you know the writer and something that reads well across many audiences. The list is given to the reader right away, the strict list of 101 in order. Then the narrative is broken up into chapters, and each chapter features a different category the 101 fall into – myths, folktales, propaganda, theatre, literature, etc. Each category has at least three example which fall into it, and each example is given its own description while the chapter is given its own introduction which attempt to make the argument for why these characters are influential. However, the arguments are not always well made and often selections weren't actually influential, just favorites of the authors, which was clear from their entries. From what I could piece together in the asides and prologue the writers are members of a writing group. While they weren’t personally bothersome to me, there were political asides in the entries which were out of place and distracting and typical of lesser experienced authors. While there were some technical issues and oddly placed humor I could have done without; there were some really interesting choices on the list and plenty of obscure background details. A particularly interesting tidbit for me was that I had completely misunderstood the concept of the Wandering Jew for my entire adult life. I’m sure there will be plenty of interest for you as well. http://faintingviolet.wordpress.com/2...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Milanie Howard

    This book may have been better served by being called The 101 Most Interesting People Who Never Lived. It suffers mostly for not living up to its premise; a lot of the entries don't bother trying to explain how the characters have influenced our culture, merely mentioning who they are and where they come from -- which is still enjoyable, just not what I was led to expect by the title and description. Actually, the book suffers from a personality disorder. I guess it's to be expected, considering This book may have been better served by being called The 101 Most Interesting People Who Never Lived. It suffers mostly for not living up to its premise; a lot of the entries don't bother trying to explain how the characters have influenced our culture, merely mentioning who they are and where they come from -- which is still enjoyable, just not what I was led to expect by the title and description. Actually, the book suffers from a personality disorder. I guess it's to be expected, considering there are three names on the cover, that there are three very distinct voices present in the writing. One of them thinks he's very funny, one of them is very angry, and one of them seems to understand what they purportedly set out to accomplish; I wish he had written the entire book. Or I wish they'd had a better editor to even out the tone and maybe say here and there, "Hey, this guy sounds interesting, but how exactly has he influenced the society in which we currently live?" There were moments I hated what I was reading (mostly the preachy political diatribes and every "intermission" where the writers explained their entirely uninteresting process) and moments that I was completely captivated (the well-thought out, edifying and entertaining essays on characters with whom I was familiar, but not necessarily for their cultural significances). I alternately loved and loathed it, which made for an exhausting read. In the end, though, the chapters that were good were so elucidating that it made the book worth the time it took to slog through the boring parts.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kermit

    The premise of this book is very interesting. But it kind of turned out to be a dud for me. The authors' style of writing was snarky and annoying. They were just so full of themselves. The book had an aura of the authors' self-importance which ruined the book, in my opinion. Plus, in most of their selections, they gave information about their individual but did not do a good job in explaining how or why that person influenced society/culture. The premise of this book is very interesting. But it kind of turned out to be a dud for me. The authors' style of writing was snarky and annoying. They were just so full of themselves. The book had an aura of the authors' self-importance which ruined the book, in my opinion. Plus, in most of their selections, they gave information about their individual but did not do a good job in explaining how or why that person influenced society/culture.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lauren DeMers

    This was a decent book. It was a good review of characters that I was unfamiliar with and gave me a little bit of knowledge of the characters' background. I didn't think the book really discussed too much the significance of the characters, it just provide a bio of them. Also, the authors thought they were WAY to witty and funny for their own good and their "humor" detracted from some of the book. This was a decent book. It was a good review of characters that I was unfamiliar with and gave me a little bit of knowledge of the characters' background. I didn't think the book really discussed too much the significance of the characters, it just provide a bio of them. Also, the authors thought they were WAY to witty and funny for their own good and their "humor" detracted from some of the book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    This book felt fast. I learned some things and I disagreed with some things. It was irreverent at times and silly many times. I liked the notion of the book and because it felt quick I enjoyed it. It made me want to read some new books. Many of the characters I knew very well and some I hadn't even heard of before. It isn't anything wonderful but I like lists so whatever I like it. I kind of want to do my own book of characters that have influenced me. This book felt fast. I learned some things and I disagreed with some things. It was irreverent at times and silly many times. I liked the notion of the book and because it felt quick I enjoyed it. It made me want to read some new books. Many of the characters I knew very well and some I hadn't even heard of before. It isn't anything wonderful but I like lists so whatever I like it. I kind of want to do my own book of characters that have influenced me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    I haven't finished reading this yet, but so far Barbie gets off easy, and Gatsby gets a bad rap. Also, I don't recognize all of these characters. Which is fine, I'm not that plugged in. But it's a very American/ Western/ European list. Leaves out the Monkey King, for example- I've never met a Chinese person who didn't know who that was. But they'd blank on 80% of the characters listed here. I haven't finished reading this yet, but so far Barbie gets off easy, and Gatsby gets a bad rap. Also, I don't recognize all of these characters. Which is fine, I'm not that plugged in. But it's a very American/ Western/ European list. Leaves out the Monkey King, for example- I've never met a Chinese person who didn't know who that was. But they'd blank on 80% of the characters listed here.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Terrie Shortsleeve

    This book was not as interesting as I thought it would be. It ended up being more about the authors trying to be funny than truly exploring the influences of these various characters. Worth it to read to explore the list, but I'd get it from the library. This book was not as interesting as I thought it would be. It ended up being more about the authors trying to be funny than truly exploring the influences of these various characters. Worth it to read to explore the list, but I'd get it from the library.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Abbie

    Although I (sometimes) enjoyed the author's humor and their thinking process, and I did enjoy some nice facts about the characters here and there, but overall, too much summary of stories and too little analysis of why that character is significant to culture and what they contributed. Although I (sometimes) enjoyed the author's humor and their thinking process, and I did enjoy some nice facts about the characters here and there, but overall, too much summary of stories and too little analysis of why that character is significant to culture and what they contributed.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Anita

    Bambi, Marlboro Man, Dracula and other fictional characters and their influence. Just okay.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    I found this book to be entertaining and informative- although a little PC in some areas. Allan Lazar is listed as the author, but he includes the process of selection and those involved in the ideas and "essays" submitted or arguments made during discussions that contributed to the writing of the book. I had some candidates of my own in mind for this book that I did not see (although one can argue that Mr Darcy could fall under the umbrella, of sorts, for the general character of Prince Charmin I found this book to be entertaining and informative- although a little PC in some areas. Allan Lazar is listed as the author, but he includes the process of selection and those involved in the ideas and "essays" submitted or arguments made during discussions that contributed to the writing of the book. I had some candidates of my own in mind for this book that I did not see (although one can argue that Mr Darcy could fall under the umbrella, of sorts, for the general character of Prince Charming) and others that I would not have expected - such as Paul Bunyon, Uncle Sam, Santa, Batman, the Pied Piper, Don Juan, & Nancy Drew, that were well-deserved. Other characters I expected to see included and, of course did (James Bond, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes, Ebeneezer Scrooge) and it I was interested to hear why they also added them to the list. Lazar connects each person from their list with a rationale and his or her cultural influence. Although, after reading this, I still don't see why The Tramp or HAL 9000 was chosen - although Lazar also tells readers that it was tough to narrow them all down to just 101 and that readers may or may not agree with their choices but they tried to encompass not just characters from literature, but also those from advertising, movies, television, Greek Mythology, etc. I do take issue with their treatment of Cinderella, or "Cinderella Rebuttal". That was one of the examples of of PC-ness running amok, making me wonder about the influence they themselves had on their 101 choices. I think they miss the whole point of Cinderella. It is NOT simply a story of a girl being too passive! They mock Cinderella's meekness and willingness to forgive, calling her pathetic. So, in this case, I am calling THEM pathetic (insert eye-roll here)! Lazar & his colleagues also miss the point of the Ugly Duckling going on a tirade about the moral of the story only being about skin-deep beauty (insert another eye-roll here). Yes, the Ugly Duckling grew to be a beautiful swan, but that's not the only lesson. The duckling was also rejected by the farmer because she couldn't lay eggs, not just because she was ugly. The real moral of the story was also that beauty comes at different times or stages in life and that one person's (or group of peoples') definition of beauty is not another's. Also, that what one group (or culture) values, another does not. Example: in some cultures, age & wisdom are valued and seen for its earned beauty, while in other cultures, well...old is just plain old. This tirade of Lazar's is proof that even highly-educated philosophers can entirely miss the point and even college/university professors can be - oh! here it comes.....Wrong! These guys, however, did redeem themselves with their interpretation of the very next character, Alice in Wonderland, followed by their rationale for including the Cat in the Hat, which had me chuckling out loud. Lazar & his colleagues included 1 character that I thought was preposterous - Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After they made their case for her inclusion in their rationale, however, I had to agree with them. . . . . No, really! Finally, the school teacher in me could not help but see the educational value in reading this and even half-way through the book, I was already formulating activities in a variety of ways for individual students, in small groups, or as a class!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    The authors present the 101 fictional characters that have had the most influence on our society, behavior, and ultimately our history. They explain in detail their process of inclusion on and elimination from the list. They also readily acknowledge there is room for disagreement in not only who did or did not make the list, but in how the characters were ranked on the list. They also point out that they left many popular characters off the list, because popular does not always translate into in The authors present the 101 fictional characters that have had the most influence on our society, behavior, and ultimately our history. They explain in detail their process of inclusion on and elimination from the list. They also readily acknowledge there is room for disagreement in not only who did or did not make the list, but in how the characters were ranked on the list. They also point out that they left many popular characters off the list, because popular does not always translate into influential. The idea for this book sprang from another book - The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History by Michael Hart. Near the beginning of the book, the authors have listed the entire 101 characters in rank order. Prior to reading the entire book, you might find yourself questioning some of the rankings just as I had. However, after I finished the book and understood the authors’ methodology and reasoning, I no longer disagreed with as many of the ranking decisions the authors made. Keep in mind that the authors tried to rank each character’s overall influence, not the influence a particular character had on the authors’ personal lives. The book also includes an appendix, which is an alphabetical list of twenty “also-rans and near misses.” Throughout the book, in the category/chapter introductions, and the interludes the reasons why some characters were left off the list are discussed. I really enjoyed the way the characters were broken up into 17 different categories, with a corresponding chapter for each category (i.e. movies, folk tales, propaganda, stereotypes, legends, etc.) The authors readily admit that many of the characters could have easily fit in more than one category, but I think a good case is made for the final category placement of each character. Each category is preceded by an introduction. There are also five “interludes,” in which the character selection and writing process of the book is further elaborated. I really enjoyed the humor the authors used throughout the book, some of which is very obvious and some is much more subtle. Initially, I was disappointed that the characters were not discussed in rank order (101 to one), but after I got into the first chapter, I really enjoyed the way the characters were grouped into categories. This makes it easier to compare similarly influential characters. I learned a lot from this book, including some things I was surprised I did not already know. (How on earth did I not know that Dashiell Hammett was a victim of the Hollywood blacklist?!) Connections between characters and the events they arose from and/or affected also became clearer to me. While some readers may not draw the same conclusions on whether a given character’s influence was good or bad, I found myself sharing many of the same opinions as the authors. I was actually relieved in some cases to discover, “Hey! I’m not the only person who thinks this character send a good/bad message.” I’m talking to you Cinderella! If you are a history nerd and/or trivia junkie like I am, I really believe you will enjoy this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ghada

    I found it befitting to start the New Year’s book challenge with one that emphasizes the influence of fictional characters on our daily lives. From infancy, we are exposed to stories of important historical personae and fairytale characters. Some of the life lessons we begin learning early in our youth are portrayed as conclusions of stories that are told to us by teachers, parents and role models. It is those people who have inspired, lead, challenged, effected and changed thousands of lives th I found it befitting to start the New Year’s book challenge with one that emphasizes the influence of fictional characters on our daily lives. From infancy, we are exposed to stories of important historical personae and fairytale characters. Some of the life lessons we begin learning early in our youth are portrayed as conclusions of stories that are told to us by teachers, parents and role models. It is those people who have inspired, lead, challenged, effected and changed thousands of lives through their actions and words. The versions of the stories and backgrounds we hear of these people vary from spoken lips to others, source to source. We may recall different details, but the characters themselves are memorable to all. In the preface, the authors state “some people are so inspired by what they have read or seen, they set out to remake the world”. But to what degree do we acknowledge the effect of fiction and fictional characters on our lives? This book is a collection of 101 creations of fiction that have had a huge impact on society. Note that not all of the characters are people. The collection also spans from Greek Gods to cartoons and superheroes. It is quite an interesting collection! The characters have been arranged in an order of influence (where 1= most influential, 101= least influential within the collection). This order is relative to the authors’ statistical research and judgment, and is based on a ranking system that is explained in the book. Interestingly enough, the Marlboro Man was ranked as #1! The characters are organized in 17 chapters, depending on the type of category they fall under. My favorite chapter was “Greek & Roman Myths”. It contained a summary about the most important characters in Greek & Roman Mythology (Prometheus, Apollo & Dionysus, Venus & Cupid, Pandora, Helen… etc) as well as a background on each one’s story. I found it very enjoyable to read! The sections are divided into nice “bite sized” reading materials, which makes the book great to read during lunch break (no pun intended!). Although the book’s cover claims that there is an analysis to be presented on how these characters influenced our lives, it turned out to be a list of facts and historical recollections instead. Nevertheless, I found it an amusing and enlightening read!

  24. 4 out of 5

    John Hedrick

    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 betraye 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. Wrong. 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.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Schnaucl

    This was a very uneven book. The book has 3 authors, and my understanding from the book is that essays were written by one of the three authors and they then conferred and revised. Each essay gives a bit of background on the character that is the subject of the essay and then generally lists the places the person has appeared (various books, plays, movies, etc). Unfortunately, that's often as far as the analysis goes. There's no real attempt to explain how a given person influenced history or soc This was a very uneven book. The book has 3 authors, and my understanding from the book is that essays were written by one of the three authors and they then conferred and revised. Each essay gives a bit of background on the character that is the subject of the essay and then generally lists the places the person has appeared (various books, plays, movies, etc). Unfortunately, that's often as far as the analysis goes. There's no real attempt to explain how a given person influenced history or society, it seems to be enough that he/she was written about or appeared in many movies. It's unfortunate, because I think the book really suffers from the lack of analysis. I understand that choosing the "101 most influential people" was a subjective process but that's not an excuse. I don't even need to be persuaded that the people in question were "the most influential," I just wanted to know how they were influential. To the author's credit, they do give a list of a couple of books for further reading so if I wanted to I could track down all the books and do the research myself. There was at least one author who did try and offer more than just a list of works, and that was appreciated but it would have been nice to have that in all essays, not just some of them. Sometimes the tone of an essay really didn't sit well with me. There was one author that took a lighter tone (such as having an essay "written by the dog" which I found frustrating. I consider myself a feminist but at times I felt like one or more authors was making a hard sell about the treatment of women. I think the best parts of the book were the interludes, which were often funny and creative.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    I felt very conflicted about this book. It should have been something I really wanted to like, but while the idea is great, the writing style really killed it for me. I'm not sure if the book was trying to be scholarly or funny. (It succeeded a few times in being scholarly...but funny? I wasn't laughing) Somethings seemed completely out of place, like the author's dog interviewing Buck from Call of the Wild. When it comes to humor with me, either go big or go home. I had just read a book before th I felt very conflicted about this book. It should have been something I really wanted to like, but while the idea is great, the writing style really killed it for me. I'm not sure if the book was trying to be scholarly or funny. (It succeeded a few times in being scholarly...but funny? I wasn't laughing) Somethings seemed completely out of place, like the author's dog interviewing Buck from Call of the Wild. When it comes to humor with me, either go big or go home. I had just read a book before this one by the editors of Cracked.com and it was hilarious. Guess I was spoiled. Some sections have tons of filler facts and details that don't seem that important, even if the character isn't highly ranked on the list. For Example Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde who is # 10 only has 1.5 pages dedicated to him while number #83 Amos n' Andy have over 5 pages. Ivanhoe's entry was mostly summary of the story and then a few sentences tagged on the end telling why he is so influential. And I know mostly every literature lover is going to have some gripe about how their favorite characters didn't make it in. But there is no Beast/ Quasimodo/Erik or similar character entry! The lesson to look beyond appearance to see the good inside. Isn't that an influential lesson? This idea would be great as a forum topic, social media poll or other interactive discussion. But with this format with these authors it just fell short.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eustacia Tan

    This fun book looks at the influence of the most famous imaginary characters - like Nancy Drew and Barbie for instance. It is (as it admits), very America-centric, so there were characters that I either didn't know or didn't think should have been included in the first place. But overall, I think the choices were interesting and appropriate. While they do provide a list of the greatest 101 characters, the book is actually organised by genre. This may make it a little counter-intuitive (I expected This fun book looks at the influence of the most famous imaginary characters - like Nancy Drew and Barbie for instance. It is (as it admits), very America-centric, so there were characters that I either didn't know or didn't think should have been included in the first place. But overall, I think the choices were interesting and appropriate. While they do provide a list of the greatest 101 characters, the book is actually organised by genre. This may make it a little counter-intuitive (I expected it to be by rank). but I suppose it's easier to introduce the characters by genre rather than by "top 10", "places 11 to 20" and so on. Of course, I know a lot of the characters (Barbie? Please, who doesn't know her? Nancy Drew? Can I squeal?), but there were some I didn't know. Those however, were mostly brand mascots, like Marlboro man (I'm hoping I spelt his name right!). But, I think character mascots are very country specific - for example, who here has heard of Singa the courtesy lion? (From Singapore) Every now and then, there's a tidbit of information in a side bar, and for a few characters (like Nancy Drew), there are book recommendations! It's given me a lot of books to put on my TBR list. All in all, I think this is an entertaining and informative book. It's written in fairly short chapters, so it's something you can dip in between books.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Zach Franz

    The premise of this book is spectacular; everything else is below-average. This mainly stems from the authors--Allan Lazar, Dan Karlan and Jeremy Salter. While filled with enthusiasm and certainly having put in the effort--no book, especially nonfiction, writes itself--none of them possesses professional or academic experience in the relevant subject matter. Each is listed in the book as having a background in science and/or computers, when most of their book centers on aspects of history, psych The premise of this book is spectacular; everything else is below-average. This mainly stems from the authors--Allan Lazar, Dan Karlan and Jeremy Salter. While filled with enthusiasm and certainly having put in the effort--no book, especially nonfiction, writes itself--none of them possesses professional or academic experience in the relevant subject matter. Each is listed in the book as having a background in science and/or computers, when most of their book centers on aspects of history, psychology, sociology, philosophy, literature and performing arts. The effect is one of skimming the surface. A pleasant variety of characters is covered, but the research presented is no more than you or I might have offered after some time on Wikipedia. Their writing, also, lacks the critical thinking and analysis that could've made these fictional beings' effect on society all the more interesting. Add in doses of humor that feel dated and cheesy, and this one--despite its cavalcade of personalities--was far too bland to get through.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Betsy

    This amusing collection of essays challenges the reader to think about the impact on our our culture and history by some people (and other creatures) who never actually lived. From King Authur and William Tell to Barbie and Rosie the Riveter, each entry includes a thoughtful history as well as thoughts on how the subject impacted our world, for better or worse. This isn't just a collection of heroes (though Superman, of course, makes the list). The authors also take issue with such icons as Prin This amusing collection of essays challenges the reader to think about the impact on our our culture and history by some people (and other creatures) who never actually lived. From King Authur and William Tell to Barbie and Rosie the Riveter, each entry includes a thoughtful history as well as thoughts on how the subject impacted our world, for better or worse. This isn't just a collection of heroes (though Superman, of course, makes the list). The authors also take issue with such icons as Prince Charming, the Marlboro Man and the Ugly Duckling who may have done more harm than good in their influence. Any reader will instantly think of a few icons who did not make the list (I was surprised that neither George Bailey nor Scarlett O'Hara made the cut). However, the book is an engaging read, helpfully organized in chapters by themes such as literature, film, advertising, legends and so on. I'd recommend it as a light read for anyone for whom the title inspires curiosity.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Northrup

    A really neat idea, but by the end I was really wishing it had been written by someone other than this team of McSweeney's wannabes. The zany asides tried way too hard and the shorter snarky jokes were simply never clever. There were also fervent strident political asides that were just out of place and distracting, and that's even despite being views I agree with. Poor execution with a tin ear for context. All that said, there were some really interesting choices on the list and plenty of obscu A really neat idea, but by the end I was really wishing it had been written by someone other than this team of McSweeney's wannabes. The zany asides tried way too hard and the shorter snarky jokes were simply never clever. There were also fervent strident political asides that were just out of place and distracting, and that's even despite being views I agree with. Poor execution with a tin ear for context. All that said, there were some really interesting choices on the list and plenty of obscure background details. A few selections weren't actually influential, just favorites of the authors, and that was clear from their essays (they're really neat! and so popular!). But most made a lot of sense and could provoke good discussion. A particularly interesting tidbit for me was the fact that the original version of Bambi, written by an Austrian, was translated for the American market by Whittaker Chambers.

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