Secret Heroes: Everyday Americans Who Shaped Our World

Secret Heroes: Everyday Americans Who Shaped Our World

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by Paul Martin
     
 

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Secret Heroes is a remarkable compendium by Paul Martin, former Executive Editor of National Geographic Traveler, that illuminates the lives of thirty forgotten American heroes. Gathering together remarkable stories about unknown champions, explorers, inventors, and innovators who never made the pages of American history textbooks—not George

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Overview

Secret Heroes is a remarkable compendium by Paul Martin, former Executive Editor of National Geographic Traveler, that illuminates the lives of thirty forgotten American heroes. Gathering together remarkable stories about unknown champions, explorers, inventors, and innovators who never made the pages of American history textbooks—not George Washington, but the tailor who saved his life…twice; the first African-American combat pilot; the 62-year-old female muckraking journalist who refused to turn her back on injustice—Secret Heroes is just the sort of fascinating and fun popular history that readers love, not unlike Kenneth C. Davis’s bestselling Don’t Know Much About® series and Rick Beyer’s The Greatest Stories Never Told.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Figuring enough ink has been spilled writing up the usual suspects of American heroism-like Paul Revere, Martin Luther King Jr., Betsy Ross, and others-Martin, the executive editor of National Geographic Travel, provides readers with a medley of unsung heroes and their compelling stories. Self-sacrifice and determination abound in the tales of folks like Joseph Dutton, who moved to a leper colony in Hawaii at the end of the 19th century to devote the rest of his life to the ostracized community; Madam C.J. Walker, née Sarah Breedlove, a daughter of former slaves, who went from earning $1.50 a day as a laundress to becoming "one of the country's first self-made female millionaires" by selling her "hair grower" preparation as the African American beauty market expanded; and Hedy Lamarr, already known as a "silver screen goddess," who went largely unheralded for inventing a "a new technology that could be used to create a more accurate torpedo," for which she received a patent in 1942. Meticulously researched, Martin holds his subjects in deserved high-esteem. However, the brief chapters (separated into Voyagers, Innovators, and Humanitarians), while providing for an easy reading experience, might leave some readers wanting for more. Agent: Erin Malone, WME Entertainment.
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Booklist
“Martin’s life-and-work portraits, with their subjects’ pluck and pioneering spirit, will surprise and, perhaps, inspire readers.”
James Conaway
“Paul Martin creates a fascinating sub-text to American history: the literally un-sung hero who through imagination, daring, perseverance, and occasional great risk affects the shaping of democracy. This enthralling, episodic ramble’s perfect for anyone interested in how America managed to get from there to here.”
Rick Beyer
“Look who Paul Martin found hiding in the cracks and crevices of American history—a colorful cast of forgotten characters definitely worth getting to know!...From the grocery store to the battlefield, forgotten heroes who left an indelible mark on American history. An enjoyable and eye-opening read.”
Thomas C. Foster
“Endlessly entertaining…Martin introduces us to a colorful cast of saints, visionaries and occasional rogues, and he does so with style and zest. Heroes, yes, but secret no more, these are (extra)ordinary men and women well worth our attention, in a book that makes history joyous.”
Kirkus Reviews
Reverent character sketches of some unusually self-reliant Americans. The 30 men and women celebrated by National Geographic book and magazine editor Martin (Land of the Ascending Dragon: Rediscovering Vietnam, 1997, etc.) are all unique characters of diverse origins and stations in life--independent inventors, captains of industry, dogged scientists, simple humanitarians, adventurers and undercover agents. Among them: Jonathan Letterman, the father of battlefield medicine; Samuel "Golden Rule" Jones, the young farm hand who became president of the Acme Sucker Rod Company and mayor of Toledo; Kirk Bloodsworth, the first prisoner freed by DNA evidence; John Wallace Crawford, the prototypical cowboy-poet; Clarence Saunders, the founder of the first modern supermarket, Piggly Wiggly; Mary Bowser, the slave in the kitchen of Jefferson Davis who was a Yankee spy; Hercules Mulligan, Gen. George Washington's secret agent-tailor; and Hugh Thompson, the brave pilot who exposed the massacre at My Lai. Though presented as woefully unsung heroes, at least some of the individuals may still be remembered: the Great White Hunter of the Museum of Natural History, Carl Akeley, for example, or the noble last Stone Age American, Ishi. Hedy Lamarr, the clever movie-star inventor, has been celebrated in two recent biographies--Stephen Michael Shearer's Beautiful (2010) and Richard Rhodes' Hedy's Folly (2011). Martin--who has written for younger readers, an audience for whom this book will also be appropriate--taps a seemingly inexhaustible source of material; surely there are more hidden tales of independent, feisty Americans out there somewhere. Inspirational yarns of exceptional folks who made a difference--a bit corny but surprisingly entertaining.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062096050
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/10/2012
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
878,336
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

A book and magazine editor with the National Geographic Society for three decades, Paul Martin spent the last ten years as executive editor of National Geographic Traveler. Earlier in his career, he served as a military journalist in Vietnam and was assistant editor of Outdoors magazine and managing editor of Continuing Education for the Family Physician. Martin lives near Washington, D.C. When not writing, he builds acoustic guitars. Readers can meet all thirty of the characters in Secret Heroes at http://www.paulmartinbooks.com.

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