Invisible Giants: Fifty Americans Who Shaped the Nation but Missed the History Books


Because history is as fallible as the people who record it, many of the figures who have shaped our country have receded from public memory. In order to celebrate and call attention to these lives, Oxford University Press asked fifty accomplished personalities from a diverse range of interests to each select a person from the 24-volume American National Biography that they felt deserved more attention. In Invisible Giants, the biographies of these forgotten figures appear alongside the often-personal comments of their selectors. We discover the man who inspired Sherwin Nuland to become a doctor, the writer Jacques Barzun considers America's first cultural critic, and the woman who taught Tina Brown to bare her teeth. We learn of the poetry recited to Henry Louis Gates, Jr., as a boy, the magazine Helen Gurley Brown required every one of her editors to subscribe to, and the book Andy Rooney deems "better than the Bible and easier to understand." Edited by Mark C. Carnes and published with the American Council of Learned Societies, Invisible Giants presents the architects of our country's past through the eyes of the architects of its future.

Additional information

Includes content by:
  • Mark C. Carnes
  • Michael Eric Dyson
  • Sven Birkerts
  • Alan Brinkley
  • Richard Avedon
Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 2003


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