A compendium of artfully written capsule biographies intended to inspire.
In this, one of three books in the Live Your Magic series, Anderson (Wisdom to Live Your MAGIC!, 2013, etc.) follows a winning formula. In this installment, he tells the stories of 75 people who achieved greatness, largely in the face of adversity. He profiles a significant number of well-known personalities (including Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela and Oprah Winfrey) but focuses on their resilience rather than their fame, and the tales often offer surprising twists. In recounting the story of Alfred Nobel, for example, Anderson writes that Nobel “got the chance to read his own death notice, and he didn’t like what he saw.” It turns out that a newspaper mistakenly published Nobel’s obituary, referring to him as a “merchant of death” because he’d invented dynamite and other explosives. Taken aback, Nobel vowed to change his life, establishing a foundation to award those who had contributed to the good of the world—the origin of the Nobel Prizes. The book also covers lesser-known names, and the most poignant are the biographies of remarkable youths. Ryan Hreljac, for instance, was just 7 years old when he heard that people were dying in underdeveloped countries due to a lack of clean water. This inspired him to do chores, earn money and eventually save up $70—enough to fund a new well in a Ugandan village. Eleven years later, Ryan’s Well Foundation has raised millions. Each story here carries a similar spark of inspiration. The Canadian author apparently scoured the world for these profiles, although for some readers, it may skew a bit too much toward Canadians. However, this doesn’t detract from the collection’s value. The brevity of these illustrated biographies, and the simple elegance of the prose, may particularly appeal to middle and high school students, as well as adults in need of spiritual renewal.
An upbeat, inspiring celebration of mankind’s ability to challenge the odds.