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The Boston Globe

Ideas

The most important people who ever lived

A new ranking system puts Napoleon above Shakespeare and Darwin, and finds some very overrated artists

Two things we know for sure about cultural rankings: They’re inevitably arbitrary, and we can’t get enough of them. The top university, sexiest person, best restaurant, greatest baseball player? The more impossible it is to make the list, the more we want to see it. And there’s probably nothing crazier than trying to name—in order—the most important people who ever lived.

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