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Why Courage Matters

The Way to a Braver Life

By , (Author)

Paperback published by Ballantine Books (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book
“Courage,” Winston Churchill explained, is “the first of human qualities . . . because it guarantees all the others.” As a naval officer, P.O.W., and one of America’s most admired political leaders, John McCain has seen countless acts of bravery and self-sacrifice. Now, in this inspiring meditation on courage, he shares his most cherished stories of ordinary individuals who have risked everything to defend the people and principles they hold most dear.

“We are taught to understand, correctly, that courage is not the absence of fear but the capacity for action despite our fears,” McCain reminds us, as a way of introducing the stories of figures both famous and obscure that he finds most compelling—from the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to Sgt. Roy Benavidez, who ignored his own well-being to rescue eight of his men from an ambush in the Vietnam jungle; from 1960s civil rights leader John Lewis, who wrote, “When I care about something, I’m prepared to take the long, hard road,” to Hannah Senesh, who, in protecting her comrades in the Hungarian resistance against Hitler’s SS, chose a martyr’s death over a despot’s mercy.

These are some of the examples McCain turns to for inspiration and offers to others to help them summon the resolve to be both good and great. He explains the value of courage in both everyday actions and extraordinary feats. We learn why moral principles and physical courage are often not distinct quantities but two sides of the same coin. Most of all, readers discover how sometimes simply setting the right example can be the ultimate act of courage.

Written by one of our most respected public figures, Why Courage Matters is that rare book with a message both timely and timeless. This is a work for anyone seeking to understand how the mystery and gift of courage can empower us and change our lives.
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“Courage,” Winston Churchill explained, is “the first of human qualities . . . because it guarantees all the others.” As a naval officer, P.O.W., and one of America’s most admired political leaders, John McCain has seen countless acts of bravery and self-sacrifice. Now, in this inspiring meditation on courage, he shares his most cherished stories of ordinary individuals who have risked everything to defend the people and principles they hold most dear.

“We are taught to understand, correctly, that courage is not the absence of fear but the capacity for action despite our fears,” McCain reminds us, as a way of introducing the stories of figures both famous and obscure that he finds most compelling—from the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to Sgt. Roy Benavidez, who ignored his own well-being to rescue eight of his men from an ambush in the Vietnam jungle; from 1960s civil rights leader John Lewis, who wrote, “When I care about something, I’m prepared to take the long, hard road,” to Hannah Senesh, who, in protecting her comrades in the Hungarian resistance against Hitler’s SS, chose a martyr’s death over a despot’s mercy.

These are some of the examples McCain turns to for inspiration and offers to others to help them summon the resolve to be both good and great. He explains the value of courage in both everyday actions and extraordinary feats. We learn why moral principles and physical courage are often not distinct quantities but two sides of the same coin. Most of all, readers discover how sometimes simply setting the right example can be the ultimate act of courage.

Written by one of our most respected public figures, Why Courage Matters is that rare book with a message both timely and timeless. This is a work for anyone seeking to understand how the mystery and gift of courage can empower us and change our lives.
Product Details
Paperback (224 pages)
Published: July 15, 2008
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 9780345513342
Other books byJohn McCain
  • Character Is Destiny

    Character Is Destiny
    Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should...
    In Character is Destiny, McCain tells the stories of celebrated historical figures and lesser-known heroes whose values exemplify the best of the human spirit. He illustrates these qualities with moving stories of triumph against the odds, righteousness in the face of iniquity, hope in adversity, and sacrifices for a cause greater than self-interest. The tributes he pays here to men and women who have lived truthfully will stir the hearts of young and old alike, and help prepare us for the hard work of choosing our destiny. From the Hardcover edition.

    Faith of My Fathers

    Faith of My Fathers
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    Senator John McCain learned about life and honor from his grandfather and father, both four-star admirals in the U.S. Navy. Both their careers and their courage helped prepare McCain for the biggest challenge of his life when, as a naval aviator, he was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 and seriously injured. When his captors realized McCain's impressive military legacy, they offered him early release. In what has now become a legendary act of heroism, McCain refused the offer and was subsequently tortured, held in solitary confinement, and imprisoned for more than five years. Faith of My Fathers is about what McCain learned from his father and grandfather, and how their example enabled him to survive. Told with humility, grace, and humor, it is a story of three imperfect men who faced adversity and emerged with their honor intact. It is a story to inspire and instruct, one that shows what fathers give to their sons, and what, ultimately, endures.

    Worth the Fighting for

    Worth the Fighting for
    In 1999, John McCain wrote one of the most acclaimed and bestselling memoirs of the decade, Faith of My Fathers. That book ended in 1972, with McCain’s release from imprisonment in Vietnam. This is the rest of his story, about his great American journey from the U.S. Navy to his electrifying run for the presidency, interwoven with heartfelt portraits of the mavericks who have inspired him through the years—Ted Williams, Theodore Roosevelt, visionary aviation proponent Billy Mitchell, Marlon Brando in Viva Zapata!, and, most indelibly, Robert Jordan. It was Jordan, Hemingway’s protagonist in For Whom the Bell Tolls, who showed McCain the ideals of heroism and sacrifice, stoicism and redemption, and why certain causes, despite the costs, are . . . Worth the Fighting For After five and a half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, naval aviator John McCain returned home a changed man. Regaining his health and flight-eligibility status, he resumed his military career, commanding carrier pilots and serving as the navy’s liaison to what is sometimes ironically called the world’s most exclusive club, the United States Senate. Accompanying Senators John Tower and Henry “Scoop” Jackson on international trips, McCain began his political education in the company of two masters, leaders whose standards he would strive to maintain upon his election to the U.S. Congress. There, he learned valuable lessons in cooperation from a good-humored congressman from the other party, Morris Udall. In 1986, McCain was elected to the U.S. Senate, inheriting the seat of another role model, Barry Goldwater. During his time in public office, McCain has seen acts of principle and acts of craven self-interest. He describes both ex-tremes in these pages, with his characteristic straight talk and humor. He writes honestly of the lowest point in his career, the Keating Five savings and loan debacle, as well as his triumphant moments—his return to Vietnam and his efforts to normalize relations between the U.S. and Vietnamese governments; his fight for campaign finance reform; and his galvanizing bid for the presidency in 2000. Writes McCain: “A rebel without a cause is just a punk. Whatever you’re called—rebel, unorthodox, nonconformist, radical—it’s all self-indulgence without a good cause to give your life meaning.” This is the story of McCain’s causes, the people who made him do it, and the meaning he found. Worth the Fighting For reminds us of what’s best in America, and in ourselves. From the Hardcover edition.

    Hard Call

    Hard Call
    Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People...
    At some point in our lives, we all face tough decisions and have to make that hard call. In this remarkable book, Senator McCain and Mark Salter use experiences of both extraordinary people and people in extraordinary circumstances to dramatically describe the anatomy of a great decision. Highlights include: - Henry Ford's decision to sacrifice his company's competitive edge by reducing the work day and guaranteeing a minimum wage. - Branch Rickey's decision to offer Jackie Robinson a contract to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers in the face of public opposition. - Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf 's decision to return to wartorn Liberia after receiving an economics degree from Harvard. - General Fred Weyand's decision to redeploy fifteen of his battalions despite resistance from senior American military commanders in Vietnam. - And much more.

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