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

3.37 of 5 stars 3.37  ·  rating details  ·  297 ratings  ·  42 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
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 13th 2004 by Random House (first published January 1st 2004)
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Malaga
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
Matt
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
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....more
Travis
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".
Marisela
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
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.
***Dave Hill
(Original review graded on a score of 1-3)

Summary:
[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.

Entertainment:
[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...more
Mallory
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
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...more
Richard
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
Erich
Mar 30, 2014 Erich rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: 1985, 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?"
Suzanne
Feb 05, 2008 Suzanne rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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...more
Sarah
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
D.
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...more
Andrew Neveils
Nov 13, 2008 Andrew Neveils rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Kate
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.
Ellis
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.
Hillary
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.
Nor
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.
AJ
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.
Sharon
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.
Casey
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!
Laura
There are 4 or 5 great stories in this book (not necessarily about McCain) that make one want to live life in every breath.
Jason


Some good stories contained in the book that makes it interesting, but this is nothing special.
Sharon Gibbs
Feb 25, 2008 Sharon Gibbs rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: friends with boys
I loved this book. It has a sense of reality that we don't think about too much these days.
Saturday22
Dec 02, 2009 Saturday22 marked it as to-read
Just saw this book at the library. Seems interesting. Would like to read it eventually.
Thomas
Not as good as Worth the Fighting For, but offers some remarkable stories of courage.
Kenny
.........................Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude..................yes.
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42851
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...more
More about John McCain...
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