When Vladimir Putin was appointed prime minister of Russia, very little was known about his background. This former Soviet intelligence agent entered politics in the early 1990s and rose rapidly.
The Greek philosopher, scientist, and religious teacher Pythagoras developed a school of thought that accepted the passage of the soul into another body and established many influential mathematical and philosophical theories.
Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi led the revolution that set up the Libyan republic in 1969. His dream was to unite all Arab lands and create a system of "government by the masses." However, by encouraging and helping provide funds for terrorist activities (the activities of people who use violence to try to get what they want) against Israel and its allies, he became an enemy of many countries throughout the world.
The English statesman Sir Walter Raleigh was also a soldier, explorer, and a man of letters (a distinguished writer). As a champion of overseas expansion into the New World, Raleigh was a victim of mistrust and Spanish hatred.
Sri Ramakrishna was an Indian mystic (one whose religious beliefs are based on spirituality and practices outside of traditional religion), reformer, and saint who, in his own lifetime, came to be hailed by people of all classes as a spiritual embodiment (taking on the physical form) of God.
The American labor and civil rights leader A. Philip Randolph, considered the most prominent of all African American trade unionists, was one of the major figures in the struggle for civil rights and racial equality.
Harun al-Rashid became the fifth caliph (religious and political leader of an Islamic state) of the Abbasid dynasty (ruling family) in September 786 at the age of twenty. During his reign the power and prosperity of the dynasty was at its height, though it has also been argued that its decline began at that time.
Beginning as a radio sports announcer, Ronald Reagan enjoyed success as a movie actor and television personality before beginning a political career. After two terms as governor of California (1967–1975), he defeated Democrat Jimmy Carter (1924–) for the presidency in 1980 and was re-elected in 1984.
Best known for the lead role in Superman, Christopher Reeve has dedicated his life to those with disabilities ever since he suffered an injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down.
The German-born American author Erich Maria Remarque was a popular novelist whose All Quiet on the Western Front, describing the soldier's life in World War I (1914–18; a war involving Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey on one side, and Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy, Japan, and the United States on the other), was a best-seller.
Rembrandt was one of the most important artists of the great age of Dutch painting. In range, originality, and expressive power, his large production of paintings, drawings, and etchings has never been surpassed.
Janet Reno was the seventy-fifth attorney general of the United States and the first woman ever to serve as attorney general, the nation's top law-enforcement job. She sought new frontiers for the Justice Department, which is led by the attorney general and is a powerful force for creating social change.
The French painter Pierre Auguste Renoir was one of the central figures of the impressionist movement (a French art movement of the second half of the nineteenth century whose members sought in their works to represent the first impression of an object upon the viewer). His work is characterized by a richness of feeling and a warmth of response to the world and to the people in it.
Paul Revere is remembered for his ride to warn fellow American patriots of a planned British attack before the Revolutionary War (1775–83), the war fought by Americans to gain independence from England. He was also a fine silversmith (a person who makes objects out of silver) and a master engraver (a person who cuts designs onto things such as metal or wood).
The English businessman and financier Cecil Rhodes founded the modern diamond industry and controlled the British South Africa Company, which acquired Rhodesia and Zambia as British territories. He was also a noted philanthropist (working for charity) and founded the Rhodes scholarships.
Condoleezza Rice is a leading expert on the politics and military of Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and other areas of the world. In 2001 President George W.
Cardinal Richelieu devoted himself to securing French leadership in Europe and increasing King Louis XIII's (1601–1643) power within France.
Sally Ride is best known as the first American woman sent into outer space, and she is also the youngest person ever sent into orbit. She has received numerous medals and honors for her work as an astronaut, and for her commitment to educating the young.
The German film director Leni Riefenstahl achieved fame and notoriety for her film Triumph of the Will, which critics believed to be propaganda, or material created to spread beliefs, of Adolf Hitler's (1889–1945) army, the Third Reich.
Cal Ripken Jr. holds many records in professional baseball, but it is his breaking of Lou Gehrig's (1903–1941) record of 2,131 consecutive games played that gained him so many admirers, who call him the "Iron Man" of baseball.
Diego Rivera was one of Mexico's most famous painters. He rebelled against the traditional school of painting and developed a style that combined historical, social, and political ideas.
Paul Robeson was an African American singer, actor, and political activist. He crusaded for equality and justice for African Americans.
Maximilien de Robespierre was the leading voice of the government that ruled France during the French Revolution. He was largely responsible for the Reign of Terror, in which thousands of suspected French traitors were executed.
Hailed by some as the greatest living American songwriter, Motown star Smokey Robinson has been composing and singing rhythm and blues hits for more than three decades.
John D. Rockefeller, an American industrialist (a person who owns or oversees an industrial corporation) and philanthropist (a person who works to help mankind), founded the Standard Oil Company, the University of Chicago, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
Norman Rockwell's heartwarming illustrations of American life appeared on covers of the Saturday Evening Post magazine for many years.
Richard Rodgers, American composer, wrote the music for over fifty stage and film musicals and helped make the American musical a legitimate art form.
The French sculptor Auguste Rodin created his sculptures largely as volumes existing in space, as materials to be controlled for a variety of surface effects. By doing this he anticipated the aims of many twentieth-century sculptors.