Profiles in Courage
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Profiles in Courage

3.83 of 5 stars 3.83  ·  rating details  ·  5,041 ratings  ·  313 reviews
Written in 1955 by the then junior senator from the state of Massachusetts, John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage served as a clarion call to every American. The inspiring true accounts of eight unsung heroic acts by American patriots at different junctures in our nation's history, Kennedy's book became required reading, an instant classic, and was awarded the Pulitzer Pri...more
Paperback, 244 pages
Published April 11th 2006 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1955)
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I read this shortly after JFK died. I attended high school in Arlington, Virginia during his presidency, and stood a few hundred yards from his grave site (along with thousands of others) when he was buried.

Profiles introduced me to the idea that people, even those in power, make choices. And their choices matter.

I didn't know then that it was ghost-written for him by one of his speech writers, but I was immediately aware that the book was written from "an angle", even though I didn't know what...more
The perfect book for a poli sci junkie like myself, especially one who's always admired John F Kennedy. Although President Kennedy takes a very small role in the book, the idea that he explores of courage in the life of politics is fascinating. Especially during a time when politicians have taken on such a tarnished image, a brief insight into a few of their lives gives an incredible understanding of the difficulty involved in the positions they hold. I would definitely recommend this book to an...more
Aaron Arnold
Kennedy was, and still is, many things to many people, but one of his aspects that doesn't get as much attention as it should is his writing. Profiles in Courage is a focused review of eight Senators in US history, chronicling instances where that man defied the pressures of various forces - his party, his state legislature, his President, but above all his constituents the American people - in a moment of national crisis, enduring insults from all sides in the conviction that the fevers of the...more
David Bales
A short, moving history of several individuals in the U.S. Senate who defied conventional wisdom and stood out on limb, holding opinions that differed from their party or the general belief of the time due to their integrity. John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, Lucius Lamar, Edmund G. Ross, George Norris and Robert Taft are the ones that I can think of at the top of my head. Some are well known, like Adams and Webster, but Ross is obscure. He was a Republican senator from Kansas who voted against...more
Pete daPixie
Bought this old yellowing paperback as a souvenir of my trip to D.C. It once belonged to a May Huddleston of 140 Meadowhill Lane, Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Originally published in 1956, this 15th printing was purchased by May for thirty five cents in this Cardinal Pocket Book edition, sometime around 1962. Perhaps it was May Huddleston who has underlined in pencil many of the lines of text.
'Profiles in Courage' was written by John Fitzgerald Kennedy whilst representing the 11th congressional district...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Feb 24, 2013 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: Ultimate Reading List - History
I first read this book in my teens when I was very much a Kennedy admirer. These days, I'm decidedly ambivalent about him and his presidency, and rather emblematic of that is what I've learned of this Pulitzer Prize winning book since first reading it. By all rights, the byline for this book should read Ted Sorenson, not John F. Kennedy. In his autobiography, Counselor, Sorenson admitted what had been rumored for years--that he largely researched and wrote Kennedy's book for him, writing "the fi...more
John Frazier
This was a fascinating look at some of the less well-known United States Senators and the issues they dealt with during their tenures (some of which didn't last long).

That Kennedy elected such an unknown cadre of politicians (collectively) on which to base an entire book may be a profile of courage in and of itself, but the informative yet readable manner in which he presents each story makes for very good reading. Though biographies have undoubtedly been written about each senator featured her...more
Classic, award-winning (Pulitzer Prize) historical work that is quite possibly the most interesting book ever written by a (future) American President. Written while John F. Kennedy was recuperating from one of his many ailments, the book is a fascinating profile of eight American senators ranging from the famous (John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, Sam Houston) to the lesser-known (Lucious Lamar and Edmund G. Ross - the Kansas Senator who cast the dissenting vote that helped acquit Andrew Johnso...more
Jordan Schwartz
John F. Kennedy's book, Profiles in Courage discusses the importance of courage and, in his opinion, how courage was demonstrated by some of our past senators. Each chapter was devoted to a different senator that exemplified the important trait of courage. Kennedy describes the significance of the three types of pressure senators are challenged with: pressure to be liked, pressure to be re-elected, and the pressure of interest groups. The men who displayed courage during their time in office, i...more
May 26, 2009 Kecia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All Americans
I was in Dallas that fateful November day in '63. I was six weeks old and my mother was with me at the Safeway. When she heard the news she abandoned her shopping cart and went straight home. I grew up in the shadow of the events of that day...and somehow I was never made aware of this remarkable book until recently!

Why was this not required reading at my high school or even at Texas State? History comes alive in these pages. Character is revealed. It speaks to what it means to be an American o...more
In this book President Kennedy profiles eight Senators, and their courage to stand up for their beliefs despite voting against the wishes of their constituents. Most of these men lost their seats in the Senate because of their choices. The book is a testament to me that Providence will guide the man that will save the nation into a position to do so. All of these men's decisions were pivital in the course of our nation. A few of the chapters get bogged down, others, like the one on Sam Houston a...more
Erik Graff
Aug 26, 2010 Erik Graff rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kennedy fans
Recommended to Erik by: David Ellenberger
Shelves: biography
I believe I read Kennedy's series of biographies twice: once as a child during his presidency and again after viewing the eight short films based on the book shown in Maine South's American Government class by Mr. Ellenberger (one of those Grinnell graduates on the faculty who influenced my choice of college later). Naturally, I didn't understand it well the first time through, but had become a little know-it-all about American history by the second reading which occurred during the summer at gr...more
Andrew Pregnall
The writing style of Profiles in Courage makes it an quick, easy, and enjoyable read; this is somewhat amusing because there is debate as to whether or not JFK actually did the research for the book and whether or not he even wrote it. Many believe it was actually his aids who did most of the work. In spite of this somewhat controversial background, Profiles tells the story of several politicians who, in the opinion of JFK, exhibited courage. As mentioned previously, the stories of these politic...more
Ted L.
After reading a biography of Lyndon Johnson, I came across this book by John F. Kennedy, written while he was in the United States Senate. Although some have claimed the book was actually written by Ted Sorenson, President Kennedy's speech writer, it is still a good book.

Profiles in Courage is really a set of linked essays, each essay or chapter deals with a different member of the United States Senate, ranging from the famous such as Daniel Webster, Sam Houston, and John Quincy Adams to the vir...more
Jun 07, 2010 Kristine rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who votes
Ok, I think this book is a must read before anyone should have the right to vote. It really opened my eyes to see the political courage could come from sticking to your principles AND from changing your mind; from sticking with your party AND from breaking with it. It is a great US history and civics lesson and I wish people would keep the lessons of this book in mind when droning on about political blather of today's world.
Frank Cahill
Kennedy won the Pulitzer Prize for this book when he was a young senator. He worked on it when he was recuperating for several months from back surgery, but there is a lot of controversy over how much he actually wrote, and that Joe Sr was an influential power behind his nomination for the Prize. Nevertheless, Kennedy was the inspiration, and it's a fascinating look at the Senate from it's members' perspective.

It is a collection of stories about unselfish acts of Senators that in many cases mean...more
Sam Honeycutt
I read this book back in grade school. I felt and still do feel even with all of the revisionist history going on that the people that JFK picked were true heroes. This book SHOULD be required reading in schools.
Robert Palmer
Kennedy probably didn't write this book. Ted Sorensen did most of the research and writing . It was Kennedy's idea for an article which crew into eight short story's . He did put his name on it and did accept the Pulitzer Prize and I do believe they were his thoughts . The eight story's of courage he writes of are U.S. Senators ,they are presented in chronological order from John Quincy Adams and ending with Robert A. Taft Sentor of Ohio. All of the sentors had taken an unpopular stand that went...more
Get's you thinking about politicians these days and how politics has changed.
I don't think I could have read this book in high school and had any sense of timing for most of the senators profiled. I lived in Houston for a bit and of course heard about Sam Houston, but I never thought about the Civil War happening on the heels of Texas statehood. I thought the two sections on Presidental sons--John Quincy Adams and Robert Taft were interesting on how they cope with being political families. Kennedy adds the chapter at the end about how the book is about being courageous,...more
Alexander Kwok
Although Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage" does not seem to follow the traditional way of writing historical books with a commonly viewed impartiality, Kennedy seems to have three different purposes in his book. That purpose, political courage when something you may do is not popular at the time to either one's poltical constituents or one's party/plank, either through compromise or sticking by one's beliefs, is the common thread that seems to run through the whole book. It is visible in every cha...more
Julie Leung
In an interesting twist, I decided to read John F. Kennedy's daughter, Caroline Kennedy, her version of "Profiles in Courage for Our Time." Her edition of the novel carried an outstanding job in her introduction. I loved that another one of W.B Yeat's poems is also in there, as also as it is in Things Fall Apart, By Chinua Achebe.

"It was the dream itself that enchanted me:
Character isolated by a deed
To engross the present and dominate memory."
-W.B. Yeats

My interpretation of the second and last l...more
Omar Israel Gonzalez Pena
Fue por turnos, magnánimo y vengativo, afectuoso y cruel, extravagante y consciente de si, leal y oportunista. Pero las contradicciones de( Co-lon-neh, apodo Cherokee) realmente confirman su única cualidad básica estable: su individualismo indomable, a veces espectacular, a veces crudo, a veces misterioso, pero siempre valiente. Pudo ser toda clase de cosas para la gente, y con todo y todo, cuando se encontró frente al más grande desafío, votar en contra del sur como senador de Texas para no apo...more
my 6th period creative writing teacher gave me the orginal 1960's verison of this book when we were doing a project on what it means to be a hero, and what attributes a hero has (obviously, courage is one of them).
i know this is sort of off subject w/ the book itself, but if you are a teacher (homeroom, history, writing, grammar, whatever) i would definitely recommend you make your kids do a project about courage. it taught my friends and i (we worked in groups of 4) alot of important lessons...more
A collection of stories of senators who made courageous stands for what they felt was right despite popular opinion, party demands, and even threats on their lives. John Kennedy very eloquently and readably compiled these stories in a multi-faceted manner, not upholding each person as some sort of pinnacle of human heroism, but letting us see the egoism, the stubbornness, and even the sneakiness of each one as we also admire the amazing, independent-minded courses each one took.

This book defini...more
Omar Halabieh
The central theme of the book is: "This is a book about that most admirable of human virtues -courage. "Grace under pressure," Ernest Hemingway defined It. And these are the stories of the pressures experienced by eight United States Senators and the grace with which they endured them—the risks to their careers, the unpopularity of their courses, the defamation of their characters, and sometimes, but sadly only sometimes, the vindication of their reputations and their principles. A nation which...more
If you ever come across this book in a store, library, or your grandmother's shelf (like I did), then please PLEASE, if you do nothing else, sit down, take a half hour of your time, and read the first and last chapters of this book. Those chapters aren't the specific "profiles in courage" for which this book was named--and don't get me wrong, those are great--but they are on a whole different par of excellence. Man could Kennedy turn a phrase. For example (taken from the last chapter):

"Must men...more
Travis Mcclain
Profiles in Courage was originally written by President Kennedy during his senatorial days and published in 1957. There are eight United States Senators profiled in this heavily researched volume. Mr. Kennedy acknowledges in his introduction the scholarly assistance he had while planning this work, and takes full responsibility for any errors in historical accuracy. The error, I am sad to say, may well be in our history books frequently failing to include these incidents.

Kennedy's focus on U.S....more
I just started this book and I already like it. In the face of his mortality from excruciating pain due to back surgery, then-Senator Kennedy writes about the courageous acts of preceding US Senators who heroically defied the politics of their day in favor of their own conscience to do what is right for the nation. I think the main thrust of this book and Kennedy's personal definition of what courage means is that the Senator must follow first and foremost his own personal conviction of what is...more
Finally, I'm finished! This book's style might lend itself to be read in small increments, but I never thought it would take this long.

And now on to the small matter of how I liked the book...

If a politician can be a poet, Kennedy certainly is. His skill is most evident in the book's introduction and conclusion, with their earnest and stirring words on courage in the American political system. Read alone, they could even inspire me to go into politics. Kennedy's inspiring words, however, are a...more
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Courage and The U S Senate 1 15 Dec 30, 2011 01:06AM  
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy, often referred to by his initials JFK, was the thirty-fifth President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963.

After Kennedy's military service as commander of the Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109 during World War II in the South Pacific, his aspirations tu...more
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“If by a "Liberal" they mean someone who looks ahead and not behind, someone who welcomes new ideas without rigid reactions, someone who cares about the welfare of the people-their health, their housing, their schools, their jobs, their civil rights and their civil liberties-someone who believes we can break through the stalemate and suspicions that grip us in our policies abroad, if that is what they mean by a "Liberal", then I'm proud to say I'm a "Liberal.” 671 likes
“A man does what he must — in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers, and pressures — and that is the basis of all human morality.” 30 likes
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