The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History
The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History is a 1978 book by Michael H. Hart, an astrophysicist, alien life researcher and white separatist. It was the first book of Hart, which was reprinted in 1992 with revisions. It is a ranking of the 100 people who, according to Hart, most influenced human history.
Hart wrote another book in 1999, entitled A View from the Year 3000, voiced in the perspective of a person from that future year and ranking the most influential people in history. Roughly half of those entries are fictional people from 2000–3000, but the remainder are actual people. These were taken mostly from the 1992 edition, with some re-ranking of order.
SummaryThe first person on Hart's list is the Prophet of Islam Muhammad, a selection that generated some controversy. Hart asserted that Muhammad was "supremely successful" in both the religious and secular realms. He also believed that Muhammad's role in the development of Islam was far more influential than Jesus' collaboration in the development of Christianity. He attributes the development of Christianity to St. Paul, who played a pivotal role in its dissemination.
In the book, Hart did not include Abraham Lincoln in the list. The 1992 revisions included the demotion of figures associated with Communism, such as Vladimir Lenin and Mao Zedong, and the introduction of Mikhail Gorbachev. Hart took sides in the Shakespearean authorship issue and substituted Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford for William Shakespeare. Hart also substituted Niels Bohr and Henri Becquerel with Ernest Rutherford, thus correcting an error in the first edition. Henry Ford was also promoted from the "Honorary Mentions" list, replacing Pablo Picasso. Finally, some of the rankings were re-ordered, although no one listed in the top ten changed position.
Hart's Top 10 (from the 1992 edition)
StyleThe book has been written in a style of ranking listed biographical articles, with writers own point of view about the subject persons. Hart deliberately detailed the life and present influences of the persons, and also added his own logic and opinion about the importance of their past role in the history and the present world.
PublicationThe book was first published in 1978 as imprint from "Hart Publishing Company". In 1992, the 2nd edition of the book was published with some changes in list's order. In its first publication, 60,000/70,000 copies was sold and meanwhile, the book has been translated into many languages.
AnalysisMany writers have quoted the book as a worth-reading list of the historical figures. Many Muslim writers and preachers used the reference of the book for promoting support and admiration of Muhammad and Islam as the book listed Muhammad in the top place.
The article written in Detroit Free Press notes:
Michael H. Hart is an astronomer, a chessmaster — in short, a ponderer and puzzler. For the last three years, the main focus of his pondering and puzzling has been human history. All of it. His goal — to answer an essentially unimportant but fascinating question: Who were the 100 most influential individuals of all time?
He has detailed his list in a new book, to be released April 2, entitled "The 100 — A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History." It is a thick volume, sketching the biographies of his choices, running down his reasons for putting them in the order he did, and even including a long list of runners-up.
Hart's book, besides being a useful encapsulation of world history, is an endless source of heady debate. So, for the sake of argument, and with permission from Hart and his publisher, the Free Press has summarized hist list, giving some of his reasons for picking his top 10 and a quick description of those who fell in the next 90.
The article in The Clarion-Ledger notes:
Michael H. Hart, whose qualifications include degrees in mathematics, law, physics and astronomy, is the author of a new volume, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, which is bound to create a lot of discussion.
Taken into equal account by the writer, whose research and perseverance must have been prodigious, these were persons who influenced past generations as well as the present situation of mankind.
His book sells at $12.50 and its publisher is listed as Hart Publishing Co.
Even those addicted to soap operas and the music of Rod Stewart can learn a lot from Hart's book.
The article in The Tampa Tribune notes:
Now, dear reader, Hart has made a list: The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History... and... a biographical sketch of the persons on the list....
Hart seems to have at his disposal a very sensitive instrument, such as a fire-gauge to measure influence of a person; not only the present influence can be measured — but he can set the gauge back and measure past influence. Perhaps he can also turn the gauge forward and measure future influence. It must be very accurate — for the author came up with this reader for Beethoven:...
The article in Los Angeles Times notes:
The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History by Michael H. Hart. The key word in this inflammatory title is "Influential," not "Greatest," and therein lies Hart's justification for including many of history's bad guys while ignoring many of the good guys. Hart's ranking system may seem outrageous to some—Muhammad is ranked first, followed by Newton and then Christ—but the book is nonetheless thought-provoking and utterly absorbing.
The article in New York Daily News notes:
Hart, an astronomer who investigates planetary atmospheres for the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., came down to earth to write "The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History." He said he chose, not the most famous or talented, but "the hundred who had the greatest impact on history and our everyday lives." The book, which took three years to research and write, is now in its second printing.
His first ten selections are Muhammad, Sir Isaac Newton, Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, St. Paul, Ts'ai Lun, Gutenberg, Columbus, Einstein.
Hart, 46, short, balding, shy, and rated a chess master, lives in a Washington suburb with his wife, Sherry, and their two young sons. He is also a lawyer. After practicing law for eight years he decided that science was more interesting, if less lucrative, and returned to school to get a masters in physics at Adelphi and a Ph.D in astronomy from Princeton.
The idea for "The 100" came when he concluded that historians have given us a one-sided view by over-playing the role of political and military leaders.
The article in South Bend Tribune notes:
Michael H. Hart is a short, nervous Ph.D who ditched law to become an astronomer. Now, at 45, he lists his version of the 100 standout people, "stars" who have been confined to the planet earth.
Hart's book, "The 100 — A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History," is a highly debatable who's who that is generating controversy ranging from the amused to the heated. It was printed by his father's publishing house.
The article in Tallahassee Democrat notes:
Who is the most influential person in history?
Muhammad, says Michael Hart, who lists the prophet of Islam as his No. 1 choice in his book, "The 100, a Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History."
He decided to write the book after a friend challenged him to compile a list of the greatest persons in history. The book took three years to research.
The author does research in astronomy at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and is a visiting professor at the University of Maryland.
The article in Los Angeles Times notes:
Americans love lists—the 10 best, the 10 worst and so on—and now an astronomer and amateur historian named Michael Hart has given us something to chew on all winter with his own list of the 100 most influential people who ever lived.
This list, along with Hart's explanation of his choices, is published in "The 100", a book that runs to 572 pages and costs $12.50. The reader is invited to challenge Hart's selections, and as Newsweek magazine notes, "It's a game anyone can play, and at one time or another, almost everyone does."
I haven't read the book, but the list if published in Newsweek, and I see no reason why I have to read Hart's arguments to quarrel with them. He probably won't read mine either.
The article in San Francisco Chronicle notes:
For all that insight, Edison ended up only No. 38 on Michael Hart's list of "The 100 — A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History."
There was a time when it was all so much fun and games to Hart as well. Then, the list, which began as a dinner-table conversation with friends, grew into a book and has proceed to arouse a fair amount of interest and controversy.
The most influential person throughout the ages has been, according to Hart, Muhammad. The third most influential was Jesus. You can see right there that a lot of people are going to disagree.
There were several basic rules Hart followed:
Influence is not synonymous with fame. This is why very few figures from the arts are listed and none from the entertainment or sports even considered.
The list is "based on what actually did occur, not what should have happened." Therefore Hart says he saw no reason to "cover up the disagreeable fact of discrimination by adding a few token women" and minorities. "To be influential," he explained, "one needs opportunity as well as talent. If Einstein had come from Africa, he probably would not have invented the theory of relativity.
The article in Business Horizons notes:
Rankings of all kinds, from football teams to churches, from places to live to academic programs, compiled on the basis of age, quality, speed, or any of a number of other criteria, appear to fascinate people today. Michael Hart, the author of The 100, is quite obviously fascinated with those individuals who, by their achievements, have influenced the development of human history. This fascination has led Mr. Hart to select, rank, and comment upon those one hundred individuals who, in his opinion, have had the most significant influence upon the manner and quality of the way in which each of us goes about living our everyday lives.
The result of Mr. Hart's work is both entertaining and interesting, but most of all quite revealing. While reading this book I found myself continually challenging the rankings of Mr. Hart and his observations on the accomplishments of each individual. In the process, I discovered that making such choices reveals much to each individual concerning his own values and priorities. Mr, Hart's values are indicated by his inclusion of thirty-seven scientists and inventors in the top one hundred and only eleven religious leaders and six artists and literary figures; seventy-one Europeans and only eighteen Asians, and only one woman, Queen Elizabeth I.
While it is both entertaining and instructive to examine the lives of those individuals who stand out in history as giants, perhaps the greatest value of Mr. Hart's book lies in its ability to make the reader think seriously about his or her own values.
The article in Richmond Times-Dispatch notes:
"The 100: A Ranking of History's Most Influential Persons" by Michael H. Hart is the latest release from the Citadel Press.
For good or bad, the 100 men and women described in this book swayed the destinies of billions of people, determined the rise and fall of civilizations and transformed the course of history.
The author's selections and evaluations are challenging and certain to invite lively debate among readers.
The book gives a brief biography describing the career and contributions of each person, as well as an analysis of his or her importance.
In addition, the author offers a listing of "honorable mentions and interesting misses."
Seventy-one of the 100 are from Europe, 18 from Asia, seven from the United States one from South America and three from Africa.
The article in Chicago Tribune notes:
The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, by Michael H. Hart. The inventor of the wheel is not in here; the poor fellow neglected to leave his name. Otherwise, he would be because, as Hart notes, he was far more influential than Muhammad, who is at the top of the list, making him the most influential person in history. "My choice of Muhammad... may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others," Hart writes. So you can see what we have here, a tome of nearly 600 pages full of biographies, each including the author's arguments for ranking each as he did, and in some cases, for ranking him at all.
The article in Miami Herald notes:
The way things look for the fathers of communism in the latest revision of The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, Marx, Mao, Lenin and Stalin soon may be mistaken for a personal injury law firm.
In the edition released today -- an update of the original 1978 listing -- Karl Marx, formerly No. 11, finds himself ranked 27th, one rung below George Washington.
The original edition caused a fuss 14 years ago by ranking Jesus No. 3. Christians don't cotton to No. 3 rankings of their deities. But Hart's listing sold 70,000 copies and inspired endless hours of dinner-table debate.
In 1978, when the first edition of The 100 was published, Hart believed that communism might endure for decades or even centuries. He now contends that the world's last communist regimes may disintegrate within 20 years.
Hart's wholly arbitrary listing still leaves acres of room for debate, even among the forces of democracy.
The article in The Columbus Dispatch notes:
History's 10 most influential people haven't lost their pop, 14 years after they first were ranked, but a few of the next 90 have shifted in importance. And artist Pablo Picasso and physicists Niels Bohr and Antoine Henri Becquerel are plumb out of luck.
Such is the view of Michael H. Hart, who recently compiled the second edition of The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History. The Virginia scholar and astrophysicist has graduate degrees in various fields from Cornell, Adelphi and Princeton universities, and from New York Law School.
Between his 1978 edition and the 1992 edition, out this week, some world theologians, philosophers, scientists and artists have lost importance as others have loomed larger on the world stage.
New to the list are nuclear physicist Ernest Rutherford, industrialist Henry Ford and Mikhail Gorbachev, ex-leader of the former Soviet Union.
The article in The Washington Times notes:
The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, by Michael Hart. Revised and updated for the current decade, Annandale resident Michael Hart ranks the 100 most influential persons in history and gives a brief but detailed biography of each, complete with black-and-white illustrations.
Mr. Hart's arrangement of entries in the book is somewhat unusual. The individuals are not listed alphabetically or chronologically, but in order of importance, as the author sees it.
He rates Muhammad, the Muslim prophet, as the most influential person in history, a rating sure to upset readers in a mostly Christian nation.. The author claims that his choices are not necessarily meant to represent the greatest individuals in history, only those who influenced the destinies of the most people, determined the rise and decline of civilizations and altered the course of history.
The article in Lancaster Eagle-Gazette notes:
Author Michael H. Art has recently released a second addition of his 1978 publication "The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History". In "The 100" Hart has assembled a list of people whom he, in his learned opinion, believes have most influenced the history of mankind.
The article in Asbury Park Press notes:
"The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential People in History" by Michael H. Hart.
Hart is a senior staff scientist with the Systems and Applied Sciences Corp. in Maryland. He's come up with an idiosyncratic look at history's movers and shakers. This is a book guaranteed to start discussion and provide insight. Just ask yourself or your friends, "Who is the most influential person who ever lived?" It's not an easy question to answer. Hart, of course, has no problem listing his top 100. His first three choices are: 1. Mohammed. 2. Sir Isaac Newton. 3. Jesus Christ.
The article in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes:
But three of the five — Joan of Arc, Mozart and Thomas Aquinas — are conspicuously absent from a slightly more studious work, Dr. Michael H. Hart's "The 100, A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History."
To his credit though, Hart's book is not millennium driven. He first compiled it in 1978, in fact, and then revised it in 1992, dropping Chairman Mao from 20th to 89th, adding Mikhail Gorbachev, Henry Ford, and the scientist Ernest Rutherford and dropping Niels Bohr, Pablo Picasso and Antoine JHenri Becquerel right off the chart.
The article in El Nuevo Herald notes:
The American lawyer and astronomer Michael H. Hart set himself the enormous task of selecting the most influential, not necessarily famous, men of all time in universal history. Three years invested in readings, consultations with scholars of history, science, theology, art, literature, etc., and of total concentration of their time and efforts to prepare their list, from one to one hundred in order of importance and relevance, according to the influence that they exerted in their time and in the posteriority until the present. The 100: a Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History is a voluminous book; Hart offers us, also, biographical data of each his selected. And his selective method, as well as the system he used for the evaluation. No doubt controversial but provocative task. Columbus was not, says Hart, the first European to set foot on the ground of the New World, but he was the one who moved Europe with his discoveries. "Within the first years of his return, and as a direct consequence of his discoveries, the conquest and colonization of the new territories began."
The article in The Canberra Times notes:
In 1978, a scholar named Michael Hart wrote The 100, which attempted to rank the 100 most influential people in history. The book has since caused endless shouts of "No way!" from people who just read the list without seeing his explanations. Muhammad ahead of Jesus ? Plato but not Socrates? Kennedy but not Lincoln? And where the heck are the Beatles?. Hart did an update 20 years later, including Mikhail Gorbachev as the only living person. By then, he'd inspired a series of books by various authors, all purporting to rank different divisions of "most influential" people: "The Jewish 100", "The Black 100", "The Italian 100", "The Gay 100", "The Left-Handed 100". Well, there wasn't really a left-handed 100, but I for one would have been silly enough to buy it.
Reading some of these books, I found myself longing for Hart's unbiased appraisals. Hart's original book had only two women in the list: Queen Isabella I at No65, and Elizabeth I practically just squeezing in at No94. This was disgraceful, of course. Was Hart being a sexist pig? No, but in case you weren't paying attention in class, history has been appallingly sexist. Hart obviously had no room for tokenism. If you protest his inclusion of notorious figures like Hitler and Genghis Khan, or obscure ones like 'Umar ibn al-Khattab, I suggest you look up "influential" in a dictionary. If you'd prefer a nice list, with no bad guys, you'll be happy to know about Simon Montefiore's latest book, Heroes: History's Greatest Men and Women. It's not exactly a new idea, but as the "heroes" include Margaret Thatcher, it's bound to get plenty of laughs. It includes plenty of women in its ranks, so it gives us a slightly more balanced history than the real-life one covered by Hart.
- In 1988, Hosni Mubarak, the President of Egypt, honored Michael H. Hart, the author of the book, in Cairo for naming Mohammed as the most influential person in history.
Egypt will honor Michael H. Hart, an Anne Arundel Community College professor of astronomy who stunned the scientific community in the '70s by questioning the existence of extraterrestrials, for a feat having nothing to do with the stars.
Mr. Hart, who also has garnered acclaim as an amateur historian, will be honored Sunday in Cairo by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for naming Mohammed, the founder of Islam, the world's second-most-followed religion, as the most influential person in history.
Mohammed was awarded the top spot in Mr. Hart's controversial 1978 book, "The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History," for more than religious reasons, the author said.
- Michael Gartner wrote in The Wall Street Journal, "But that's just the beginning of the debates that Michael Hart can start. For he has boldly come out with a ranking of the 100 most influential persons in history, and his ranking will stir more dinner-table discussion than even a list of the 10 best films of 1977 or the 10 worst restaurants in New York.... Hart's fascinating book contains brief biographies of his 100 and, often, explanations of why the 98 men and two women are ranked where they are. The book is a concise and readable history of the world. Hart proves to be a clear writer and a fine teacher—few readers will recognize all 100 names on the list.":
But that's just the beginning of the debates that Michael Hart can start. For he has boldly come out with a ranking of the 100 most influential persons in history, and his ranking will stir more dinner-table discussion than even a list of the 10 best films of 1977 or the 10 worst restaurants in New York.
Hart's fascinating book contains brief biographies of his 100 and, often, explanations of why the 98 men and two women are ranked where they are. The book is a concise and readable history of the world. Hart proves to be a clear writer and a fine teacher—few readers will recognize all 100 names on the list.
- Mike Barnicle wrote in The Boston Globe, "In terms of upsetting people, Michael Hart is the new champion. He is the author of a collection of names entitled 'The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History.'":
In terms of upsetting people, Michael Hart is the new champion. He is the author of a collection of names entitled "The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History."
Hart has placed Mohammed No. 1 because he was the founder of Islam. This is a religion and not a restaurant in Worcester.
- The Washington Post "asked three nationally-known thinkers to assess Michael Hart's list in his book, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History". The "three nationally-known thinkers" who wrote essays about the list in the book were Chaim Potok, Edwin O. Reischauer, and Barbara W. Tuchman.
Any list that tries to rank Jesus, Buddha, Moses and Einstein in some order of importance is bound to run into trouble. When the subject is influence on world history, the controversy is inadequate. Yet Michael Hart ran this gantlet in his recent book, "The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History," and he put Mohammed and Isaac Newton over all of the above.
Hart is an astroomer, mathematician, lawyer, physicist, chess master and amateur historian. His criteria for influence provokes thought on the way history is made and its villains and heroes decided.
- Albert Hofammann wrote in The Morning Call that it is "a curious book with some curious bits of information" and "could create a parlor game among contentious guests".
The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History by Michael H. Hart is a curious book with some curious bits of information. The size is slightly larger than normal, and the volume includes appendices, index, a historical chart and copious illustrations. The title is a clue to the approach — influential in the course of history, not the greatest. Hart, an astronomer, ranks the 100 in what he considers order of influence: Muhammad is No. 1; physicist Niels Bohr is 100. The author adds a list of 100 runners-up and selects 10 of these also-rans for short analyses to explain why he rejected them from the top list. The book could create a parlor game among contentious guests.
- Jane Sullivan wrote in The Age, "That perverse inclusion of the totally obscure among the more conventional big guns of the encyclopaedias is what gives Dr Hart's book all the fascination of a good parlor game.... The facts are sometimes trite, but it is the arguments for each rating which provide the real fun."
If not, improve your store of bizarre information and discover why Michael Hart places Ts'ai Lun at Number Seven on his list of the 100 most influential persons in history, ahead of Gutenberg, Columbus and Einstein.
That perverse inclusion of the totally obscure among the more conventional big guns of the encyclopaedias is what gives Dr Hart's book all the fascination of a good parlor game. As he points out, influence is not the same as fame or talent or virtue. He is looking for the 100 persons who had the greatest effect on history and on the course of the world.
Dr Hart lays out his ground rules for assessing influence in his introduction, then plunges into his potted biographies. The facts are sometimes trite, but it is the arguments for each rating which provide the real fun.
- Arnie Arnesen wrote in The Boston Globe, "The 100 is an interesting hybrid.... The list is an exclusive product of author Michael Hart. He brilliantly defends his choices and their ranking with pithy descriptions of each."
About a year ago a friend suggested I read "The 100 — A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History." Although I consume periodicals by the bushelsful, I cannot seem to find the time, or maybe the word is patience, for books.
The 100 is an interesting hybrid. The book is a compilation of the 100 most important people in human history, arranged in order of importance. The list is an exclusive product of author Michael Hart. He brilliantly defends his choices and their ranking with pithy descriptions of each.
The book was originally published in the late '70s and then revised in the early '90s. The biographical sections can be read discretely, a la my Economist or Harpers. Each remarkable description invited, nay demanded, consumption of the next choice and the next, and so on.
The compromise? Combine vocation and avocation by reading a person a week to my radio audience....
- Janice Harayda wrote in The Plain Dealer, "Hart generally presents his evidence clearly, intelligently and without special pleading. This tends to give his arguments plausibility even when their conclusions are debatable, as when John F. Kennedy wins a ranking but not Abraham Lincoln, who is only in a roundup of 'Honorable Mentions and Interesting Misses' at the back of the book.":
Hart, a physicist, doesn't answer those questions directly in the second edition of "The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History." But his entries are generally stimulating and informative enough to justify themselves by their usefulness, if not by their organizing principle.
As in the first edition, published in 1978, Hart hasn't tried to rank the most admirable figures in history - an effort that would have excluded people like Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. Instead, he profiles the 100 men and women whose actions have in his view done the most to shape the destinies of others.
Hart generally presents his evidence clearly, intelligently and without special pleading. This tends to give his arguments plausibility even when their conclusions are debatable, as when John F. Kennedy wins a ranking but not Abraham Lincoln, who is only in a roundup of "Honorable Mentions and Interesting Misses" at the back of the book.
Only one entry is controversial enough to be called kinky or crackpot. Apparently, Hart has been won over by the publicity campaign being waged by the descendants of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, to convince the world that their ancestor wrote the plays of William Shakespeare; the author thus reverses his earlier position and gives the No. 31 spot not to Shakespeare but to de Vere, whose circumstantial case he argues more rationally than many who have taken on this volatile topic.
Perhaps a bit too rationally. In de Vere's entry and others, the no-frills prose of "The 100" lacks the color and flair that would have revealed the beating heart of the history-maker. Like a well-trained editorial writer, Hart favors concise, straightforward exposition, strengthened by his talent for anticipating - and defusing - arguments that might be used against him. How, you might wonder, could Mohammed rank higher than Jesus when the world has twice as many Christians as Muslims?
- Charles Solomon of the Los Angeles Times criticized the book, writing, "his jejune volume stands out as a textbook example of culutural parochialism: Hart's list includes three Africans, two women and one South American. His mini-biographies of his choices feature such arbitrary, unsubstantiated pronouncements as...":
The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History by Michael H. Hart. Lists of the most, best, etc. generally tell the reader more about the author's tastes than about the ostensible subject, and "100" suggests that Hart has an oddly limited view of history. It may not be surprising that an astronomer would include more scientist/inventors and political/military leaders than artistic/literary figures. But this jejune volume stands out as a textbook example of culutural parochialism: Hart's list includes three Africans, two women and one South American. His mini-biographies of his choices feature such arbitrary, unsubstantiated pronouncements as "Although Johann Sebastian Bach is almost equally prestigious, Beethoven's works have been more widely and more frequently listened to than Bach's.
- Ken McGoogan wrote in the Calgary Herald wrote, "If Michael H. Hart has done nothing else, he has demonstrated that picking a public fight can be profitable. Hart is the author of The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, revised and updated for the '90s."
- Frederic Raphael wrote in The Sunday Times, "In today's climate of overweight biographies, this unassumingly corpulent century of famous lives has a welcome Plutarchian succinctness. If it has a weakness, it is not inaccuracy, but monotony. The writing is unpretentious, but it is also po-faced. When it comes to the scientific fraternity, there is little awareness of confusions or contradictions. In Newton's case, who would guess that his rationalisation of science was accompanied, perhaps fuelled, by a belief in alchemy which took him at least to the edge of madness? Perhaps, by the same token, if Hart had not been driven by his ranking frenzy, he would not have had the energy to complete this eminently decent, marginally dotty compilation. Its only serious deficiency is the lack of even a rudimentary bibliography."
- Barbara W. Tuchman wrote in The Washington Post, "The superabundance of science and applied science in the list is remarkable in view of the absence of any figure in law, architecture, poetry, business or the labor movement.... Mr. Hart finds it "worth noting" that his list contains only three persons who lived from the 10th to the 15th centuries. This demonstrates only Mr. Hart's limitations, not those of the Middle Ages.":
The Washington Post asked three nationally-known thinkers to assess Michael Hart's list in his book, The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History. Here are their comments.
- Edwin O. Reischauer wrote in The Washington Post, "I find 38 names from the fields of science or technology, to 17 or so conquerors and explorers, to two each in literature, art and music. Even a non-esthetic type like myself is shocked. The English-speaking corner of the world has 24. A man from outer space should have no difficulty in determining the cultural background and interest of our list maker."
- Walter C. Langsam wrote in The Cincinnati Enquirer, "When an Enquirer editor asked me whether I would comment on Michael Hart's , I replied I had not read the book and, indeed, had no desire to read it. For, in my opinion, no one can rank accurately the hundred most-anything among all the men and women who have peopled the Earth since the beginning of history. Yet, inasmuch as the editor is unusually persuasive, and since I was promised a summary of author's selection criteria and his list of rankings, I agreed to the request. Would that I had remained firm in my initial reaction!":
Mr. Hart's criteria that only "real persons" were eligible for listing and that emphasis be on influence not greatness, are plain enough. The decision to equate "a significant impact on one important country" with "a less commanding influence affecting the entire Earth," offers a less tangible guideline. And the goal "to divide the credit for a given development in proportion to each participant's contribution" seems me unattainable. The resulting attempt to calculate, for example, who should be ranked 71 instead of 70 or 72, vividly reminds me of my history professor of 55 years ago, who recorded numerical grades "only to the third decimal place," because carrying them further would be "a little difficult."
Bearing in mind that Mr. Hart is a scientist, it is not astonishing that the list of 100 includes some 37 scientists and inventors. There are 28 persons from Great Britain and the United States. All Western, Central, and Northern Europe, excluding Great Britain, are represented by 39 names; the Near East and Middle East by 12; the Far East, mainly China and India, by 11; Ancient Greece and Rome by six; Russia by three and Latin America by Boliva.
but the book was extremely welcomed and outburst with positive reviews in the Muslim world, and the book is often cited in the Muslim writers' book including Ayatollah Sayed Muhammad al-Shirazi, Ahmed Deedat etc. In 1988, the former contemporary Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak honoured Michael Hart for placing Muhammad in first place.