Book Reviews Reviews

Book review: The 100 Most Influential People Who Never Lived

Written by Omair Alavi

Omair Alavi|Published December 5, 2020

There are a lot of things that we believe as true, when they actually aren’t. Similarly, there are a lot of people in history who we believe to have existed in reality, when in fact they didn’t. They might be your favourite superhero, your favourite detective, literary character or even someone you look up to.

Time The 100 Most Influential People Who Never Lived lists 100 such people who came, who saw and who conquered, when in actuality, they existed on either paper, folklore or appeared on TV.

Who are these people and what makes them so important to feature in this book; you will get all answers once you are through with this list.

There is Sherlock Holmes here who many still believe existed in the 1880s England, defeated Professor Moriarty and came back from the dead in The Empty House. The stingy Ebenezer Scrooge can be found in these pages as can the obsessed Captain Ahab; don’t be surprised to find out the truth behind Santa Clause (yes, he doesn’t exist!) or Harry Potter whose magical powers are limited to books and films.

These characters alongside many other unforgettable ones are part of our daily lives even if we don’t acknowledge them the way they deserve. Don’t we all have a relative or friend who suffers from Peter Pan Syndrome; many of us want to enter a phone booth and come out as a powerful being from another like Superman; sympathise with Darth Vader and want to use the Force for our gain; and feel like ‘The Good Samaritan’ after doing a deed that should not be advertised at all.

What this book does, is tell you about the origin of these characters, how they have influenced our lives, and why they should ‘live’ for a longer duration despite not being human. Every character (or sometimes two characters counted as one) is described in detail, sometimes by renowned authors or the celebrities who played those characters in different mediums. Who wouldn’t want to read Lynda Carter’s comments on her most famous character Wonder Woman, or why Patrick Stewart loved playing Shylock despite him being a minor Shakespeare character?

Not all characters in this book are related to children, and that’s why it would appeal to elders in the house as well. How many books do you think can achieve the distinct honour of being loved by all in the household? The illustrations and images add colour to this wonderfully designed book that gives importance to each and every entry.

There is no harm in realising that you can relate to a character that didn’t exist; what’s hard is accepting the fact that someone you thought lived a happy life, didn’t live at all. Yes, King Arthur never walked the Earth and neither did Robin Hood, but life wouldn’t have been the same without knowing there was no sword in stone, or that nobody robbed the rich to help the poor.

Read this book only if you want to know the truth, and find out if you can handle it at all!

Published in Dawn, Young World, December 5th, 2020

About the author

Omair Alavi