Activism begins in small ways and in unexpected places. A speech on the radio, a high school literature class, a promise made to a mother. In this inspiring book, over 40 activists recount the experiences that sparked their journeys and share the beliefs that keep them going. These are ordinary citizens who met challenge with action. Their visions for peace, equality, and justice have reshaped American society - from voting to reproductive rights and the environment to the economy.

ACTIVIST brings together multiple generations and different (sometimes opposite) perspectives. But their powerful narratives and Ottesen's luminous photographs reveal the passion, purpose, and optimism that unite these diverse figures. Collectively, their stories remind us that anyone can take the future into their own hands.

Great Americans by KK Ottesen

Great Americans is the product of my journey all across the United States, interviewing and photographing regular people about their lives.  The twist?  All of these individuals happen to share names with our nation's most famous and infamous icons - Marilyn Monroe, Muhammad Ali, Abraham Lincoln.  In revealing black & white photographs and in their own words, these great Americans (one from each state) talk about their lives, their adventures under these famous monikers, and what they think it means to be an American.  What emerges is a fascinating composite portrait of the country at a moment in time.


"A stroke of genius... Funny, touching, reassuring, highly individual and inspiring."

- Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN

"Sometimes inspiring, sometimes sad, but always true to the heart of the heartland."

- New Orleans Times-Picayune


"The season's treasure... a charming, addictive book."

- New York Observer