Cobblestone’s Picks — and Ours
For their 30th anniversary, Cobblestone magazine decided to select its pick of the "30 greatest Americans" — defined as no longer living, and people whose most significant accomplishments took place here (in other words immigrant is fine, but Einstein becomes an also ran since he published his special and general theories of relativity when he was still living in Europe). Having recently worked on the Viking Up Close series of biographies which had a related focus — great Americans who kids would want to read about and are neither in the gossip headlines now nor so familiar they appear as sidebars in every textbook — I know how hard it is to make these selections — and how much fun.
I gnashed my teeth at some of the Cobblestone worthies, and had my own nominees to take their place. I won’t say which choices until some of you read the issue and weigh in. But in general I found their art, media, culture, sports choices odd. And I find it interesting that they did not include a single military figure other than Washington — who doesn’t really count — while they emphasized those who stood up for one kind of civil or human right or the other. All of those figures are certainly admirable — but I can’t help seeing that as a slant that is more purposeful than honest. And I think we turn off boys when we act as if people they look up to, and who embodied traits they admire, were not among the greatest Americans.
Of course they invite you to email your comments to them at firstname.lastname@example.org but I’d like your thoughts here — if you had to pick 30 Greatest Americans — and using their rules — not alive, and best known for work done while being an American — whom would you pick, and why?