NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • In this inspiring meditation on courage, Senator John McCain 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.
Praise for Why Courage Matters
“[John] McCain the man remains one of the most inspiring public figures of his generation.”—The Washington Post Book World
“Thrilling . . . John McCain’s profiles in courage offer inspiration. . . . A marvelous collection of stories featuring honest-to-God heroes.”—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“Extraordinary . . . McCain proves how courage can change lives and improve the world.”—New York Daily News
“[McCain] is open and candid, a refuge from spin and arrogance.”—The Washington Post
“Wise words from a man who personifies courage.”—The Sunday Oklahoman
After two stirring memoirs, Senator McCain turns in a slim meditation on the nature of courage. Suggesting the definition of courage has been stretched thin in contemporary parlance, where it can be applied to acts as insignificant as cutting or not cutting one's hair, McCain seeks to return to the word's fundamental meaning not just of "the capacity for action despite our fears" but self-sacrifice for the benefit of others as well as for oneself. Although he addresses valorous conduct by American soldiers in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, he is, as always, modestly self-critical of his own experiences in Vietnam (although he and his fellow POWs turned to one another for moral support on a daily basis, he confesses, "I was not always a match for my enemies"). In an especially moving chapter, he recounts the participation of his congressional colleague John Lewis in the nonviolent wing of the Civil Rights movement. Other sections discuss the Navajo leaders Manuelito and Barboncito, Jewish freedom fighter Hannah Senesh and Burmese dissident (and Nobel Peace Prize recipient) Aung San Suu Kyi. These compelling life stories stand up against the best passages of McCain's previous works. Alas, his writing becomes more vague and less interesting when he shifts to a more abstract discussion of the need for courage in the post September 11 era. One of McCain's greatest strengths as a writer has been that he doesn't sound like just another politician, and while the drop-off in quality here isn't significant, it is noticeable. (On sale Apr. 13)