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Before They Changed the World    by Edwin Kiester Jr. order for
Before They Changed the World
by Edwin Kiester Jr.
Order:  USA  Can
Fair Winds Press, 2009 (2009)

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* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

In this fascinating collection of short biographies Smithsonian staff writer Edwin Kiester Jr. looks at the pivotal moments that shaped the lives of twenty-two of the legendary figures whose deeds changed the world.

Beginning with Hannibal of Carthage, Joan of Arc and Queen Elizabeth I, this fascinating volume moves through history until it concludes with modern 'movers and shakers' Rosa Parks, John F. Kennedy and Mikhail Gorbachev. Along the way the reader will also meet an eclectic collection of personalities ranging from Horatio Nelson, Samuel de Champlain and Giuseppi Garibaldi to Edith Cowan and Kemal Ataturk.

Kiester's contention is that all these individuals who, in one way or another had a lasting impact on their surroundings, their contemporaries and history itself, experienced an event that transformed them.

'What they all seemed to possess is that at some point in their formative years, some incident, some happening, some tragedy, sometimes something trivial and transitory, transformed them and inspired them to perform memorable feats both powerful and enduring,' the author writes in the book's introduction.

Whether he is correct or not in the transforming incident he selects for each person, Kiester's premise is an interesting one. Those interested in history and the people who made it will find this an intriguing read.

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