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Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life
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Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life

3.41  ·  Rating Details  ·  362 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
“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 ...more
Audio CD, Abridged, 2 pages
Published April 13th 2004 by RH Audio (first published January 1st 2004)
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Sep 21, 2008 Malaga rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a short unsophisticated essay on courage that contains mostly opinion and indulgent tangents. The stories of courageous people are the saving grace of the book - probably because they are based on fact - everything else is opinion. John McCain is hell bent on distinguishing physical from mental or emotional courage; and examining courage from every imaginable (and imagined) angle. If John McCain had not had his war experiences what would he have to write about and on what authority? He h ...more
Oct 23, 2009 Matt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best thing about this book is the stories. They are of truly courageous people of whom I have not heard of before. McCain does a good job of reflecting and considering other veiwpoints on the meaning of each story and shows great humility, as we all should, in telling/hearing these courageous life stories. I don't agree with a lot of his viewpoints on courage in the beginning of the book but at the end he hits it dead on in my opinion (not sure if this was his writing strategy because the be ...more
Gregg Bell
Jul 02, 2014 Gregg Bell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay, say what you want about John McCain, but one thing stands out to me and that is he, surviving while being tortured as a POW for over five years, has the authority to speak on the subject of courage.

The book is slight. The hardcover is the size of a trade paperback, widely double spaced and only 209 pages. It at times has the feel of a war story journal (in a bad sense). But you read this book because it delivers on its title—it shows you why courage matters and how to get to a braver life.
Jun 03, 2009 Travis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spiritual, politics
As someone who wishes he had more courage, I am always interested in reading books on courage. This book had a different chapter on different people, and they all had a different type of courage. I particularly liked the story about the guy who won the Congressional Medal of Honor "becoming a Destroying Angel". I thought that was nice. And I loved the poem by the Israeli about "blessed is the Match that lights the fire".
Aug 22, 2010 Marisela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book! I thought he would speak only of his capture, however, he spoke not only of his, but also the bravery of John Lewis, Navajo leaders Manuelito and Barboncito, Jewish freedom fighter Hannah Senesh and Burmese dissident (and Nobel Peace Prize recipient) Aung San Suu Kyi.

I would read this book again.
William Craft
Aug 08, 2010 William Craft rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is book that everyone should read. It is a collection of story of courage that chronicles not just the good but the cost that some people pay for leading a courageous life. I carry this book with me every where I happen to go.
"Daniel Webster said, "A sense of duty pursues us ever." There is nowhere to which we can escape our duty, our debt of honor. "If we say the darkness shall cover us, in the darkness as in the light our obligations are yet with us," The longer we live, the better we understand that truth. We all incur debts to others, and the obligations once accepted will trouble the selfish, hardened heart until they are fairly discharged. Our duty will chase us to the grave. So it is the debts we owe to the br ...more
Mark Wolf
Feb 24, 2016 Mark Wolf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many will remember McCain for his failed presidential campaign and the Republican Party's huge folly of choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate, but this book is a great reminder that his place in history is more significant than that. He divulges very little about his own experiences as a Navy pilot and Vietnam POW in this book, but sprinkles enough experiences to weave through this collection of stories about individuals who exemplified true courage in the face of adversity. I recommend this ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Cody rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this short book to be a good read, mixing historical context and figures with a philosophical outlook on what courage means. Approaching this book I was prepared to read mostly about courageous figures in American military history, and while a few chapters indeed focus on this very subject, I'm glad Mr. McCain expanded his outlook to humanitarian and civil rights leaders, both American and foreign. I was also impressed with he academic focus on defining courage, such as in the instances ...more
***Dave Hill
Oct 13, 2011 ***Dave Hill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: text, non-fiction
(Original review graded on a score of 1-3)

[3] McCain discusses what does, and doesn’t, constitute courage, as well as why it’s important, something we can all aspire to, but need to train ourselves toward. It lacks footnotes and bibliography, which would have been handy.

[2] This is not a heavy, ponderous book, but, even amongst the examples provided and the lessons McCain draws from them, the reading is relatively quick. The main critique is also probably a blessing: the
Jul 28, 2013 Mallory rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
John McCain intersperses his own commentary on the virtue and elusiveness of courage with the stories of heroic individuals who stood strong in the face of enormous adversity or overwhelming fear. Most of them may be little-known in history, but they are still powerful examples today. My favorite profiles from the book were of John Lewis and Aung San Suu Kyi. McCain’s philosophizing on courage can be a bit preachy at times. I enjoyed the profiles more, as I learned a lot of history from them. Th ...more
Loy Machedo
Mar 13, 2012 Loy Machedo rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
First there was Obama with his famous (currently infamous) words that echoed the hearts and souls of a generation – Change & Yes We Can! And along with that was heard a campaign cry that came in the form of two atrociously boring, terribly verbose and infinitely constipated books – The Audacity of Hope & Dreams from My Father.

My assumption is that just because Obama wrote it, people out of a sense of obligation purchased it and to be in the good books of the President, wrote glowing rev
May 31, 2015 Srcarson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Put the politics aside please. This book is not political. It is about courage.

Sometimes we forget the difference between courage and fear. People with courage have fear, no question, however, "We are taught to understand, correctly, that courage is not the absence of fear but the capacity for action despite our fears."

We can all learn from this.
Read it.
Feb 16, 2008 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a gift from my (conservative) father, before he realized mccain was a beltway insider (i warned him years ago). thought i'd go ahead and read it though since he's probably going to be president. this wasn't as bad as i thought it would be though since he stays away from politics and dissects 'courage' and how the word (or maybe it's the act) has been diluted in present-day whatever-the-subject-is discourse. i think it's just mccain's way of subliminally telling his constituents that he ...more
Aug 02, 2015 JoAnn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2015
I'm grateful for the lessons learned from the role models John McCain has chosen to discuss in this book.

I am also impressed with the humility with which he speaks some of his own experiences as a POW. He says he doesn't measure up to the courage several of the men he was imprisoned with, and he cannot repay his debt to them.
James Leigh
Aug 25, 2016 James Leigh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an easy read filled with compelling stories. I was particularly impressed by the fact that John McCain did not hold himself up as a great example of a person with courage although that is in fact what he is.
Mar 30, 2014 Erich rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
Oh man, SO ghostwritten, even though the other author is credited. It reads as if John McCain sat down in room one afternoon and talked to the writer for an hour and then said "Okay. you can make a book out of that, right?"
Feb 05, 2008 Suzanne rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone in the world, especially Americans
It doesn't matter what your politics are, this man is a hero. This book is filled with stories of men and women showing extraordinary courage. What does McCain see as the link between them all? Fear. Without fear there is no courage.

What do we owe Mitchell Redcloud, the man who was so injured that he could not stand and had his comrades tie him to a tree so that he could continue to fight for our freedom? We owe him a blood debt and we owe him to never forget his sacrifice.

Redcloud is only one
Mar 17, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book long before John McCain was running for president, and I really liked it... It is not a fast read, but you can definately jump around in it..."When your children see you choose, without hesitating, without remark, to value virtue more than security, to love more than you fear, they will learn what courage looks like, and what love it serves, and they will dread its absence."Just one of many good quotes from the book-it will make you want to try just a little harder to take risks ...more
Jul 21, 2011 D. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not very flowing. Really talks about how to lead a couragous life. Goes off on tangents. Certain individuals through out history have exemplified, through their actions what courage is really about. Take Hannah Sanesh bright young Jewish girl. She could have gone to school with the other Christian girls but chose the British army instead. Read the book to find out more.

Tremendous book, This book got through the thick "drudge" of war. Must read if you are a military member of any aspect, any gen
Andrew Neveils
Nov 13, 2008 Andrew Neveils rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes inspirational war stories
The book remains bipartisan, not leaning towards any political side. In fact, he does not address any policies at all.

Labeled as an inspirational book, it does just that. However, McCain/Salter seem to examine courage from a few perspectives (mostly military) and reiterate the same points, only with a different story or a rewording (sometimes the same sentences).

The book was very quick to read, and the stories are wonderful, but the real meat of the book was lacking.
While I am taken by the theme and the important message of this collection of stories, it was very difficult to complete (especially about midway through). I really became exhausted from the repetition and some sentences or paragraphs that seemed to never end. This book contains some great stories that I will remember for a long time and, I believe, good intentions, but at times, is very poorly engineered.
Jan 02, 2008 Ellis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I gave this book three stars because while I liked the stories of courage in the book, the definitions of courage and philosophical musings on courage by the author were clumsy and often incorrect, in my opinion. The different arguments for the meaning of courage weren't always congruent.
Tom Schulte
I doubt anyone, even John McCain, can talk about something like courage without having the hollow ring of Hallmark platitudes...What sizzle that does exist in this book is the vividly told real-life stories of courage, generally in a framework of organized violence.
Jan 27, 2014 Hillary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book, no matter what your political views are!!

One of my favorite quotes is, "We are taught to understand, correctly, that courage is not the absence of fear, but the capacity for action despite our fears." Pretty much says it all right there.
Philip Hartman
A collection of inspiring stories of people who took great risks for causes they believed in. Examples include a medal of honor winner, civil rights leaders, opposition political figures in dictatorships, etc. I listened to the audio book version.
Aug 14, 2008 Nor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had some amazing war stories by true American heroes. McCain's thoughts were a bit unorganized and scattered, but I was able to pull a few gems from the book nonetheless. A good read. Inspired me to be better.
Aug 25, 2008 AJ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually didn't finish this book, but it was due back to the library and I had gotten the gist of it. It wasn't super engaging, but it was interesting. And there were some great uplifting stories of courage.
Jan 17, 2009 Sharon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Makes you feel like a wussy. Sometimes it drug on a little bit, but it had some amazing stories of courage. It is pretty much entirely anecdotal.
Mar 28, 2009 Casey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book and think every person should read this. It really allowed me to look at life differently and to be brave!
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John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican candidate in the 2008 United States Presidential Election.

McCain graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He became a naval aviator, flying ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he nearly lost his life in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. In October 1967, while on a bomb
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