THROUGHOUT its history, Britain has always managed to find the rare men of courage and invention to carry it through crises of war and peace. Today's happy few are not united by politics, class or a common ideology, but share independence of mind, impatience with worn-out formulas, and a dedicated eagerness to shape the future. Some of the pacemakers:

Educator John Vaizey, 33, spent nearly a dozen years in hospitals with osteomyelitis, but managed to reach Cambridge via a scholarship. Currently an economics don at Oxford, he has written five trail-blazing books on...

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