Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on 9-11. Volunteer today


Military and Veterans Discount


Free AARP E-Books

Protecting Yourself Online for Dummies

Here's the mini guide you need to steer through the hazards with confidence.

Learn More


AARP Games - Play Now!


AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy

News & Politics Forums

Share your opinions on news and current events that matter most to you.

Join the discussion »

AARP Auto Buying Program



Inspire Awards 2003 Honorees

The Fearless 50

* He lifts the veil on the Islamic world
Bernard Lewis, 86
Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University

In 1976, Bernard Lewis made an unfashionable argument: He wrote that secular nationalism was receding in the Middle East in favor of religious politics. Soon enough came the Iranian revolution, the modern world's first vision of a theocratic Islamic state. The prescient professor has foretold many other developments, including key elements of the September 11 attacks. For Lewis, the current clash between Christianity and Islam originates in the two faiths' similarities. Unlike their forebear, Judaism, both claim to be the one and only way to heaven. However, that similarity "may in time lead to a dialogue," says Lewis. "There are people on both sides who see things this way."

* He protects the planet—and the bottom line
Amory Lovins, 55
Energy and Economic Theorist; CEO, Hypercar, Inc.

Lovins insists that society can thrive on what he calls the "soft energy path," meaning that industry can use oil far more efficiently, switching to renewable resources such as solar and wind power, and save money. "The best companies know they have a duty to make the world better and safer," says Lovins, who collaborates with his wife, Hunter. Through his Rocky Mountain Institute near Aspen, Colorado, he has briefed heads of state and CEOs on energy and economics.

Drive, he said: Watch for his new Hypercar, a pollution-free, superefficient vehicle.

* He turns the voices of ordinary guys into poetry
David Mamet, 55
Screenwriter and Playwright

One critic calls Mamet "the testosterone king of American theater," and there's no doubt he has brought to life some very manly men. From The Untouchables to Heist, his characters' staccato dialogue expresses a sense of dislocation in a spiritually vacant world. Mamet has received many honors, including a Pulitzer Prize, and is much imitated, especially by cop show writers. "There's a whole generation of younger guys who want to be David Mamet," says Washington Post critic Peter Marks.

* She stood Charles Darwin on his head
Lynn Margulis, 65
Professor of Geosciences, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

In 1970, Margulis asked the question that would define her career: What if new cells were formed by incorporating the bacteria that invaded them? A radical take on Darwin's "survival of the fittest" hypothesis, her theory—called endosymbiosis—suggested that cooperation, not competition, is what advances evolution, but it was also mocked by other scientists as sheer fantasy. Endosymbiosis is now taught in biology classes, and even her rival Richard Dawkins calls it "one of the great achievements of 20th-century evolutionary biology."

* She snaps the soul of war
Susan Meiselas, 54

Her harrowing images of Central American revolution catapulted Meiselas to prominence; in 1979, she won the Robert Capa Gold Medal for her work in Nicaragua. Meiselas may immerse herself in a single subject for years, and the finished work straddles the lines between reportage, anthropology, and art. For her 1997 book Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History, she made repeated treks to northern Iraq in the wake of the Gulf War and emerged with an unorthodox chronicle of an embattled shadow nation.

Stop and think: "Valuing limbo is a hard thing to do," says Meiselas. "The farmers know better than we do. They value the fallow periods."

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

member benefit aarp financial service auto insurance

AARP® Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford offers members no-cost quotes.

membership benefit financial college aarp

Advice on saving for education from AARP® College Savings Solutions from TIAA-CREF.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can earn 3% cash back on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points