Book Reviews of The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived: How Characters of Fiction, Myth, Legends, Television, and Movies Have Shaped Our Society, Changed Our Behavior, and Set the Course of History

The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived: How Characters of Fiction, Myth, Legends, Television, and Movies Have Shaped Our Society, Changed Our Behavior, and Set the Course of History
The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived How Characters of Fiction Myth Legends Television and Movies Have Shaped Our Society Changed Our Behavior and Set the Course of History
Author: Dan Karlan, Allan Lazar, Jeremy Salter
ISBN-13: 9780061132216
ISBN-10: 0061132217
Publication Date: 10/1/2006
Pages: 368
Rating:
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 24

3.2 stars, based on 24 ratings
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

5 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived: How Characters of Fiction, Myth, Legends, Television, and Movies Have Shaped Our Society, Changed Our Behavior, and Set the Course of History on + 59 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
After waiting a long time for this book to pop to the top of my wishlist, I ultimately found it disappointing. The list of characters seems arbitrarily chosen and the writing has a very forced humor that usually falls flat. The authors often neglect to make any sort of case for a character's inclusion on the list. And some of the characters seem too obscure to me to be a legitimate inclusion, such as Nora Helmer from the play A Doll's House, or The Wandering Jew.

I would have preferred a more scholarly book, with a little more thought and more exploration of the real influence of each character.
reviewed The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived: How Characters of Fiction, Myth, Legends, Television, and Movies Have Shaped Our Society, Changed Our Behavior, and Set the Course of History on + 33 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
I was a bit disappointed in this book. I got bored about 1/4 of the way through it and put it aside. Picked it up now and again to finish it. It was just okay, didn't really hold my interest.
reviewed The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived: How Characters of Fiction, Myth, Legends, Television, and Movies Have Shaped Our Society, Changed Our Behavior, and Set the Course of History on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
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 characters 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 characters 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! Im not the only person who thinks this character send a good/bad message. Im 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.
reviewed The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived: How Characters of Fiction, Myth, Legends, Television, and Movies Have Shaped Our Society, Changed Our Behavior, and Set the Course of History on + 44 more book reviews
This book was just OK. It is interesting to think of how many fictional characters are so important to our culture, and the brief recap of the characters, why they are significant, and what they represent was done pretty well in this book. The selection of characters was a bit confusing though, and I was a bit puzzled by how everything was organized. If I were to come up with a list of 101 characters, I am not sure that mine would match this one very closely. Not that this is a bad thing, but I was surprised that some of the more major characters you'd instantly think of were absent from this list. I have to admit, when I requested this book myself, I was convinced this would become a shelf copy. After getting into it, it was not entirely what I'd expected, so back it goes into rotation. Still a decent read, though.
reviewed The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived: How Characters of Fiction, Myth, Legends, Television, and Movies Have Shaped Our Society, Changed Our Behavior, and Set the Course of History on + 143 more book reviews
My hairdresser was amazed that Mark Twain wasn't real! I copied down the list and expect to have even more fun with it.

Donna V.