In this gem of a young adult book, Ford defines “the call” as that moment when someone realizes the task for which he was created and accepts the challenge. The call is “believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”
With superb focus, clarity and organization, Ford pinpoints these pivotal moments in the lives of seventeen 20th century people, selected by their universally acknowledged benefit to humanity. Sports figures and celebrities have no place in this slim volume of inspirational lives. Nevertheless, young readers will be captivated by the fact that childhood is the fertile ground where seeds of greatness are planted. For the Wright brothers, the call was a childhood book about birds. John F. Kennedy was called to politics when his older brother, Joe, died. Neil Armstrong knew at age five that he would fly, dreaming of floating above the ground by simply holding his breath.
Young, Internet-raised readers will like the rich abridgement of complicated lives into tasty high-calorie—not empty calorie—nuggets. The “Notable Facts” sections at the end of each chapter would make excellent reviews for either Jeopardy contestants or its question writers. (Famous 20th century saint whose father was poisoned. Who is Mother Teresa?) Chapters flow in easily absorbed linear and straightforward fashion that deliver the nucleus of each person’s greatness.
These biographies, organized by occupation, represent thorough research (see the “Recommended Reading” sections) and considerable insight to recognize the life-changing event. Ford inspires by saying that we too can be “called” just by listening to the music inside us. If a writer is a skilled servant of words who enables the rest of the world to share others’ greatness, then Ford is an exceptional servant, wrapping great lives in an alluring package with this slim volume of seventeen biographies.
RECOMMENDED by the US Review