Jun 18

Defying Disability: The Lives and Legacies of Nine Disabled Leaders

Posted by Soliloquy in Kindle

This book tells the stories of nine disabled leaders who, by force of personality and concrete achievement, have made us think differently about disability. Whatever direction they have come from, they share a common will to change society so that disabled people get a fair deal.There are compelling biographies of – Sir Bert Massie: public servant; Lord (Jack) Ashley: Labour politician; Rachel Hurst: activist and campaigner; Tom Shakespeare: academic; Phil Friend: entrepreneur and business consultant; Peter White: broadcaster; Mat Fraser: actor, musician and performer; Andrew Lee: activist and campaigner; and, Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson: Paralympic champion. “Defying Disability” is based on extensive interviews with the subjects and the people who know them.

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Defying Disability: The Lives and Legacies of Nine Disabled Leaders

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  • Mary Wilkinson has mainstreamed disability in the UK. First as long-time editor of the magazine Disability Now, and as author of the new book Defying Disability, she has brought us the lives of, as her subtitle puts it, “disabled leaders.”

    This phrase could naively be taken as an oxymoron: aren’t leaders, by definition, extraordinarily abled? Through subtle, engaging stories, Wilkinson highlights twin sides of disability: the ambition to prove one is just as good as ordinary folks, and special perspectives that are the hidden gold of being different.

    Not that one would choose to be blind, or restricted in stature, or stricken with a persistent stammer, but perhaps the effort to function can teach lessons that many of us miss, as Abraham Lincoln is said to have learned from his depression. (One could add Winston Churchill, William James, William Styron, and many others.)

    Wilkinson views the life paths of her characters with compassion, neither assuming disability brings automatic wisdom nor standing aloof. Instead, she describes a range of responses, in a way that can deepen thought and policy about disability on both sides of the Atlantic.

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