“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.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of History eBook: Why Courage Matters|
|Release Date: 04-13-2004|
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|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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Why Courage Matters
A kind of madness" is how a friend of mine, a Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War, described the courage displayed by men whose battlefield heroics had earned them the Medal of Honor. "It's impossible to comprehend, really, even if you witness it. . . . It's one mad moment. You never think anyone you know is really capable of it. Not even the toughest, bravest, best men in the company. They're as surprised as anyone to see it. And if someone does do it, and lives, they probably never do it again. You might think the guy who's always running around in a fight, exposing himself to enemy fire, yelling a lot, might do it. But that's not what happens. They just get killed usually."
Select at random a dozen Medal of Honor recipients and read the citations that accompany their decorations. Some will describe a single lonely act of heroism, one man's self-sacrifice that saved the lives of his comrades, who will remember the act for the rest of their lives with feelings of gratitude and lasting obligation mixed with something that feels much like shame-shame that one's life, no matter how good and useful, no matter how honorable, might not deserve to have been ransomed at such a cost. All the citations will record acts of great heroism, of course. But some might seem plausible, if just barely so. The reader might even fantasize himself capable of such heroism, under extreme circumstances, without feeling too ashamed of the presumption. Maybe you are. At least one, however, will tell of such incredible daring, such epic courage, that no witness to it could imagine himself, or anyone he knows, capable of it. It might be the story