Patt Morrison for September 3, 2012

Peter Dreier ranks The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century

Nation Books Publishing

America has undoubtedly changed during the course of the 20th century and, according to professor of politics Peter Dreier, one such change has been towards becoming a more humane, inclusive, and democratic country. Throughout the century, countless distinguished Americans have influenced the trajectory of the nation and pioneered to achieve greatness, but how do Americans define genuine greatness in the context of history? What characteristics make some Americans greater than others? Dreier attempts to answer these and other questions in a new book “The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame.” The Occidental College professor hopes to provoke and inspire readers to think hard about what truly makes certain individuals great and also what our choices of who qualifies as ‘the greatest’ says about us as a society.


Ranging from women's suffrage to the civil rights movement and beyond, which influential Americans do you rank as some of the greatest of the 20th Century and why? What do your selections say about you as a person and as an American citizen?


Peter Dreier, E. P. Clapp Distinguished professor of Politics, and director of Urban and Environmental Policy Program at Occidental College; author of “The 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century: A Social Justice Hall of Fame” (Nation Books 2012)

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