“Be not afraid of greatness,” says Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, “some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
To some extent, Rudolph “Rudy” Giuliani did have greatness thrust upon him. Though he was a prominent politician, and already having been mayor of New York since 1994, it was on those terrible moments, on the morning of September 11th, 2001, that Giuliani gained international attention for his leadership. For those who witnessed the events that day or saw them recounted on the TV, the memories of Giuliani walking up Manhattan with his team as devastation all around, giving orders, remains one of the most profound images of the day. It was for this that he was named Time Person of the Year in 2001 and received an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II in 2002.
This week’s edition of The Economist contains a review and discussion of Amanda Ripley’s “The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way.” The book readdresses the paradox that the USA has the best universities in the world but does badly on international tests in secondary education. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) ranking places the US 25th out of 56 participating countries for mathematical skills, just ahead of Latvia, and behind the Slovak Republic. Ms. Ripley’s book is largely reiterating many of the ideas by Tony Wagner in his book, “The Global Achievement Gap.” Ignored for several years when it was first written, it has today become a highly influential book. Continue reading