John Muir spoke, wrote, and lived the wilderness, including taking President Theodore Roosevelt on an overnight trip to the Yosemite Valley. This trip led to Roosevelts signing into law a bill that placed Yosemite under federal control as a national park. Because of this and his founding of the Sierra Club, John Muir is credited as one of the key shapers of the modern environmental movement.
In 1974, an inventor named Victor Wouk became a man who could be described as ahead of his time. He had developed a prototype for the hybrid, a car that would become the most credible and commercially successful alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles.
Calvin Klein, a boy from the Bronx, took his first clothing line of three dresses and six coats to an appointment at Bonwit Teller, New York's department store for the wealthy. Before long, he had designed a line of jeans that sold 200,000 in a week, and he was called the "King of Clothes" by People magazine. Along the way, he became known throughout the world for the beauty of his elegantly uncluttered clothing. In partnership with childhood friend Bernie Schwartz, he built an empire around his ideas that came to include fragrances, cosmetics, underwear, and home decor. Today his clothes are recognized as classics, and his style represents the best in American design.
When Hollywood stars get married, they call on Vera Wang to dress them for their big day, because Vera makes the most beautiful wedding gowns in the world! Jennifer Lopez, Kate Hudson, Mariah Carey, and Jessica Simpson are among the thousands of brides this American designer has dressed. Born and raised in New York City, where her parents fled from the Chinese Revolution, Vera has been in the fashion industry her whole adult life. After working for Vogue magazine as a fashion editor, she opened her own store, where she sold the wedding dresses that have made her famous. Today her brand name is on perfumes, home goods, jewelry, shoes, and eyeglasses, and her delightful style is available to everyone through her lower-price line, called Simply Vera.
Wayne Gretzky, known to millions of hockey fans as "The Great One," wasn't the biggest, fastest, or strongest hockey player ever, but he was without a doubt the best so far. When he retired from play in 1999, the National Hockey League retired his jersey number as well and inducted him into the NHL Hall of Fame immediately, without the customary waiting period. Wayne's great talent was his ability to read the game and consistently make the right moves, earning him records for scoring year after year. The Great One started playing hockey on an ice rink in his backyard as a little boy in Canada, practicing before and after school and even after eating dinner with his skates on! His life tells the story of how far hard work and smart thinking can take a kid from Brantford, Ontario.
Muhammad Ali was born as Cassius Clay in Louisville, Kentucky. Early in his life, his skills developed from those he needed to stand up to a playground bully into the championship form that earned him a gold medal in the 1960 Olympics. As a professional fighter, Ali became known not just for the speed and agility with which he won three world heavyweight championships, but also for his charm, wit, and showmanship. Outside the ring, the courage of his stand against the military draft made him both a revered cultural hero and a lightning rod for the issues that divided Americans during the Vietnam War. In the decades following his boxing career, Ali has become regarded as one of the most recognized people on the planet. He has lent his name, influence, and generosity to a host of humanitarian causes. Today, having earned the affection of billions of people worldwide, the peoples champ is, as ever, The Greatest.
Imprisoned for 27 years, Nelson Mandela became a symbol in the fight against the oppression of the black majority by South Africa's apartheid government. The first in his family to attend school, Mandela was given the English name Nelson by his teacher on his first day. As Mandela moved up the educational ladder, he became more and more involved in social justice. When he became a lawyer, he joined the African National Congress (ANC), an organization whose purpose was to increase the rights of black South Africans. In 1961, Mandela helped found a military branch of the ANC that used guerrilla attacks against the government. His imprisonment became a rallying point for black South Africansand eventually the world. International pressure against the government helped bring about the end of apartheid and Mandela's release in 1990. Mandela was elected president, serving from 1994 to 1999, and remains a figure revered and loved by his grateful nation.
By the time Roberta Bondar became Canada's first woman in space in 1992, she already had careers as a doctor, a scientist, and a professional photographer. Born in 1945 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, a town on the border between Canada and the United States, Roberta has had an active career in both countries. Today she is well known for her continuing work on behalf of the planet, writing and appearing on TV and in documentaries, covering Space Shuttle launches at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and shedding new light on the needs of the natural world.
Before they spearheaded the musical phenomenon called the British Invasion, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr were just four kids from Liverpool. Throughout the 1960s, however, they embodied, as the Beatles, the musical, artistic, social, and spiritual promise of an entire generation. After their stormy breakup in 1970, the Fab Four became four solo artists, at times even appearing on each others recordings. In addition to the millions of records each band member has sold on his own since their breakup, more than 40 Beatles compilation albums have been released and continue to sell millions of copies. To this day, more than one billion Beatles recordings have sold, and thousands of books, academic papers, blogs, and websites are dedicated to the group. Despite being the Beatles for only a decade, John, Paul, George, and Ringo together formed the most successfuland arguably the most influentialmusical group in history.
Albert Einstein was a theoretical physicist and an intellectual giant of the twentieth century. This fascinating biography reveals Einsteins life story, and how his theories changed the way we looked at the universe. Born in Germany in 1879, Einstein focused his studies on science and mathematics. He won a Nobel Prize in Physics and was instrumental in persuading U.S. President Roosevelt to pursue the development of the atomic bomb in World War II. Einstein published hundreds of research papers, articles, and books and lectured at universities in Europe and the United States until his death in 1955. Einsteins name is synonymous with genius, and, not surprisingly, his brain has been preserved for study.
Steve Jobs was a pioneer of the personal computer age. This compelling biography describes his life and career as a visionary entrepreneur who helped usher the world into the digital agein style and comfort. Born in 1955, Jobs grew up tinkering with electronics in the garage with his father. Although he dropped out of college, he would follow his passion for electronics and become well known for founding the computer company Apple. Equally well known for his uncompromising product philosophy, he continued to innovate in the fields of animation, personal electronics, and marketing. Both Jobs and Apple had their share of ups and downs. After an amazing comeback in the 2000s, Jobs was diagnosed with cancer and passed away at the early age of 56 in 2011.
Politician Al Gore has lent both his voice and his political influence in the fight against global warming. His work and creative energy have earned him numerous forms of public recognition, most notably the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
David Suzuki is a prominent environmental activist. Throughout his adult life, he has been the creative force behind numerous television shows on science and the environment. He has used his voice to advocate for the environment and to take to task political leaders whose action and inaction have been part of the problem behind the global warming crisis.
Ed Begley, Jr. is a Hollywood actor, who inspires, entertains, and motivates a new generation of environmental activists, fans, and consumers with his all-encompassing green lifestyle. Whether he is promoting his own line of green products, lending his voice to further environmental awareness and action, or walking the walk of the life he touts in his own solar-powered home the star of Living with Ed is constantly on the lookout for ways to live more green - and get others onboard in the process.
Rachel Carson was a marine writer, biologist, and ecologist whose work inspired millions to take seriously the danger that human activity poses to the environment. She both revealed the wonders of the natural world and exposed the sinister threat to that world posed by DDT and other pesticides.
At a time when much of the United States was still racially segregated, Jackie Robinson smashed the color barrier to become the first African-American player in Major League Baseball. Born in 1919 to a family of sharecroppers, Robinson excelled in sports throughout his school years. After serving briefly in the army during WWII, he briefly played ball in the Negro Leagues. At about the same time, a handful of all-white Major League teams paid lip service to trying out black players. But it was when Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947 that he became a part of what would be called "The Noble Experiment." Outspoken in the past when it came to racial injustice, Robinson endured racist jeers from fans and players, and even death threats, with dignity and composure. His historic feat of crossing baseball's "color line" became a symbol in the American civil rights movement in the decades that followed.