Monday, December 4, 2006

another annoying "Top 100" list

The Atlantic Online is out with a list of the 100 "most influential figures in American history."

Pretty much the usual suspects in the top five: Lincoln, Washington, Jefferson, FDR, and Hamilton. But the farther down the list you go, the more questionable (or at least debatable) the choices become.

Sam Walton (Mr. Wal-Mart) is number 72. Have 71 people shaped modern American life more than Walton?

Frank Lloyd Wright, at number 76, isn't far behind Walton. Visionary architect? Sure. But I can go hours at a time without feeling Wright's influence. I probably travel in the wrong circles.

And Betty Friedan is number 77, one spot less influential than Wright. She should be higher, I think.

It's easy to pick holes in lists such as this. But they can serve an important function. It's the end of the semester. We still have so much to cover in our classes. We're losing interest as quickly as are the students. So what to do? Take this list into class and discuss.

Thanks to History and Education: Past and Present for the tip.