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Paul Martin

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10 American Heroes You Didn't Know About

Posted: 05/24/2012 2:36 pm

Not all heroes appear in the standard history texts. Their achievements aren't celebrated like the monumental exploits of presidents, generals, and founding fathers. But for as long as this nation has existed, ordinary citizens have done extraordinary things. In Secret Heroes: Everyday Americans Who Shaped Our World [William Morrow, $14.99], I spotlight 30 overlooked Americans who displayed an outsize measure of courage and determination. Here are 10 of them.

America's Joan of Arc
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Inez Milholland Boissevain's brief life (1886-1916) was filled with drama: A pacifist and idealist, she was a record-setting athlete and vocal student leader at Vassar College, a crusading New York attorney who investigated the disgraceful conditions at Sing Sing prison, and a martyr to suffragists for her refusal to give up her fight for women's rights despite having developed a life-threatening case of pernicious anemia. Though she didn't live to see it happen, Boissevain was instrumental in winning women the right to vote in 1920.
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