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Character Is Destiny: Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember (Modern Library Classics) Paperback – August 7, 2007


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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library Classics
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (August 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081297445X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812974454
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #964,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. As in last year's Why Courage Matters, McCain's latest volume uses biography as an illustration of virtue, but this time the senator broadens his palette significantly, telling 34 stories of heroes whose lives embody qualities ranging from honesty and loyalty to curiosity and enthusiasm. At the root of them all, he says, is a willingness to stay true to one's conscience against all challenges. Thus martyrs appear prominently, from Thomas More and Joan of Arc to Edith Cavell and Father Maximilian Kolbe, as do military heroes, including Pat Tillman, the pro football player whose love of country led him to enlist in the army shortly after 9/11. But the pantheon is inclusive enough to hold Aung San Suu Kyi and Gandhi alongside Churchill and Eisenhower. Although he is reaching out to a younger readership, McCain's plain but sincere language does not condescend to his audience. He makes occasional oblique references to his experiences as a prisoner of war—describing, for example, how they reinforce his understanding of Victor Frankl's concept of dignity—but the only chapter centered on his ordeal highlights a furtive moment of kindness from a Vietnamese soldier. Amid much speculation concerning his plans for 2008, McCain has made a declaration of values that liberals can embrace as readily as conservatives.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

After a career in the U.S. Navy and two terms as a U.S. representative, John McCain was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986 and reelected in 1992 and
1998. He and his wife, Cindy, reside in Phoenix, Arizona.

Mark Salter has worked on Senator McCain's staff for more than 15 years. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife, Diane, and their two daughters.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

The stories contained are very interesting.
Lynn Benson
This book profiles a variety of people and their successes.
E Lazaros
This is a great book of heroes, especially for kids 10-16.
L. Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Kent Ponder on November 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Other reviewers have not revealed McCain's list of admirable character traits, and the individuals he believes best personify them, so let's do that:

Grouped under "HONOR": Honesty (Thomas More), Respect (Ghandi), Authenticity (Joan of Arc), Loyalty (Sir Ernest Shackleton), Dignity (Victor Frankl).

Grouped under "PURPOSE": Idealism (Sojourner Truth), Righteousness (Romeo Dallaire), Citizenship (Pat Tillman), Diligence (Winston Churchill), Responsibility (Lord Nelson & lieutenants), Cooperation (John Wooden).

Under STRENGTH: Courage (Edity Cavell), Self-Control (George Washington), Confidence (Elizabeth I), Resilience (Abe Lincoln), Industry (Eric Hoffer), Hopefulness (John Winthrop).

Under UNDERSTANDING: Faith (Christian guard at Hua Lo Prison), Compassion (Maximillian Kolbe), Mercy (Mother Antonia), Tolerance (The Four Chaplains), Forgiveness (Nelson Mandela), Generosity (Oseola McCarty).

Under JUDGMENT: Fairness (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), Humility (Eisenhower), Gratitude (Tecumseh), Humor (Mark Twain), Courtesy (Aung San Suu Kyi).

Under CREATIVITY: Aspiration (Ferdinand Magellan), Discernment (Leonardo da Vinci), Curiosity (Charles Darwin), Enthusiasm (Theodore Roosevelt), Excellence (Wilma Rudolph).

Under LOVE: Selflessness and Contentment (Mother Teresa)

Little reflection is required to notice the arbitrariness of some of the above pairings of characteristics and individuals. Several other classifications and pairings would have been possible and, obviously, many of the above people qualify under more than one heading.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In a manner similar to then-Senator John F. Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage" in 1955, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) has co-written, with his regular writing partner Mark Salter, a straightforward book about 34 historical figures, both famous and forgotten, all of whom followed their conscience against seemingly insurmountable odds to achieve their sense of truth and decency. Depending on your political affiliation, the publication seems either ironic given the declining level of trust for the current administration and its leader, or timely given McCain's own Presidential aspirations. Perhaps to escape such scrutiny, McCain and Salter have targeted their book to young adults who are otherwise ignored by such politicians except in polemics such as promising increased subsidies for higher education. This decision is admittedly crafty, but fortunately, the co-authors handle their history lesson in a non-condescending way that makes it constructive reading for readers of any age.

The overriding message they want to convey is that there is nothing circumstantial when it comes to people who achieve greatness, that in fact, they achieve greatness as a result of their own character. McCain's message of being responsible for one's own happiness resonates, and he modestly assesses himself as a work-in-progress in this regard. The book is rather arbitrarily organized into seven categories - honor, purpose, strength, understanding, judgment, creativity and love - under which he identifies individuals who represent key aspects of those criteria for greatness. The expected figures are included, legendary martyrs such as Joan of Arc (under "Honor" epitomizing authenticity), Thomas More (representing honesty) and Nelson Mandela (showing forgiveness in the "Understanding" section).
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47 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Kellemen on November 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
"Character Is Destiny," by Senator John McCain, reminds me somewhat of the series of books by virtue's czar, William Bennett. Bennett's forte was compiling vignettes from classical literature to illustrate various admirable character traits. McCain follows suit by highlighting character as illustrated by famous and not-so-famous individuals from ancient history and modern times.

His choice of heroes and heroines is eclectic enough to please folks on the right and the left. As the subtitle suggests, the book can be a shared experienced between young and old, parents and children. It is worth the reading for its celebration of the human spirit, in particular the spirit of hope that overcomes despair, love that conquers hate, and faith that defeats doubt.

Reviewer: Bob Kellemen, Ph.D., is the author of "Soul Physicians," "Spiritual Friends," and "Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction."
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27 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Rose VINE VOICE on November 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an impeccably written book, and one that is well worth keeping, sharing, and especially giving as a gift, as the stories and principles hold a great deal of weight, by virtue of the light from which the stories have been written.

On the subject of destiny, McCain does not believe in inevitable destiny. Instead, he shares, "It is your character, and your character alone, that will make your life happy or unhappy. That is all that really passes for destiny. And you choose it."

On character and reputation, he shares:
"Many good people mistake their reputation for their character. It is a mistake I have made many, many times," McCain writes. "Of course, our reputation should be a reflection of our character. But sometimes, through no fault of our own, it is not.

"We must be true to ourselves. And we must be true to others, whether they believe we are or not."

This is the ultimate message of this stellar book, and the stories help to reinforce how to live the messages by inspiring us with the truth others have shared and lived by.

I am actually rewarding my high school age children to read this book. I also feel that anyone, at any age, can significantly enhance their lives from the many principles in "Character is Destiny" by making the conscious choices to do so.

Deserves 10 Stars.

Barbara Rose, Ph.D. author of Stop Being the String Along: A Relationship Guide to Being THE ONE and Know Yourself: A Woman's Guide to Wholeness, Radiance & Supreme Confidence
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