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on April 18, 2004
John McCain courageouly fights for what he believes is right, regardless of criticism and scorn. This book depicts those with similar spirit -- people who move ahead in the face of fear and do what is right. This is a wonderful book that shows us that real courage is born from commitment to a cause greater than ourselves. I suggest two books to provide the "HOW TO!" The first book is Optimal Thinking: How To Be Your Best Self which is a solid resource to show us how to be our best and bring out the best in others regardless of the circumstances. The second book is Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway which shows you how to grit your teeth and push on. These books deserve 5 stars!
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on April 23, 2004
This man is better than Bush or Kerry in every aspect of human life.
Any American born citizen should read everything of his published works and stand behind this man. He is the last politican who truly believes in the American Dream.
Only review I ever gave 5 stars. Haven't even finished the book and will tell you this is priceless knowledge.
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on August 12, 2004
McCain makes me laugh, he makes me cry. In between McCain's explanations of what defines courage and what doesn't, he provides examples of people the world over who have demonstrated extraordinary acts of courage that will move you to tears. He made me laugh when he writes of how most parents usually try to teach their children to be brave as when they fall off a bicycle or horse. "We're teaching them physical skills. We're teaching them to be strong...We're building their confidence and giving them hope...These are elements of courage, but not the whole virtue...They might grow up and climb mountains or become risk-taking entrepreneurs. But is that all we think courage is? Without other instruction, they could turn out to be Enron executives.(!) They had daring, but they lacked ethics. They lacked a sense of honor, and they lacked courage."

I brought this book with me on a recent trip to bear country where I intended to read it in between hikes in the Sierras. I thought it would come in handy, for he writes, "Face the experience with quiet assurance or with a look that reflects stark terror", good advice when faced with a 300 pound bear! I spent my time reading mountaineering 101 books instead and this one got shelved for the time being (no bears in sight).

In the closing chapter, he offers advice to those who witnessed events in NYC who are still traumatized, suffering from anxieties. "Build your courage...We have something worth being brave for: liberty and justice. Feel yourself part of that grand enterprise, empowered by it, and dread the emptiness of a life that is unattached to noble purpose." "We're all afraid of something...Don't let the sensation of fear convince you that you're too weak to have courage. Fear is the opportunity for courage, not proof of cowardice."

Great practical advice, better stuff than that found in medicine bottles.
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on April 16, 2004
Senator McCain puts together a plethora of real-life stories from a diverse collection of courageous people to illustrate the application of courage and how you can learn to function with fear as a part of your life. While his examples are drawn from circumstances beyond the scope of most of our lives, (military war heroes, explorers, Civil Rights movement leaders, Native Americans, religious leaders, and Burmese dissidents), his intent is to teach the reader how to face the daily challenges of life bravely.
This book is a reflection of Senator McCain's life, which he admits has not always been up to the level of courageousness he would wish (referring to his Vietnam experiences). By telling the stories of how others handled difficult situations, McCain succeeds in teaching the reader how to face fear. His book extols the honor of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others, and defines courage as "the capacity for action despite our fears."
Regardless of your political beliefs or opinion of McCain, this book is worth reading and sharing with others.
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VINE VOICEon June 27, 2004
This extended essay on courage comes from a man who has displayed it in abundance, although not surprisingly, he seeks to deny or minimize that. Senator John McCain endured years of physical and psychological torture as a North Vietnamese prisoner of war and has gone on to display courage of a different, but no less real sort, in the political arena.
McCain introduces us to a variety of people who have displayed the dimensions of courage--Medal of Honor winner Sgt. Roy Benavidez, who rescued eight of his comrades in Cambodia despite suffering grievous wounds that would leave him hospitalized for months; Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who has endured house arrest, separation from her family and other depravations in her battle to secure freedom for the peoples of Burma; civil rights leader John Lewis; a Baltimore mother who paid the ultimate price for fighting the drug dealers in her neighborhood; and others, both famous and obscure.
Courage is not easy to define, McCain suggests. For years he thought Hemingway's famous phrase ("grace under pressure") might be as good as any, but explains how decades of thinking and experience have led him to a deeper understanding, if not a more precise definition, of this significant human quality. Courage has many dimensions, he suggests; though physical bravery is often an element of it, it's not a necessity. What does seem to be an absolute, in McCain's view, is that for an action to be truly courageous it must be grounded in firm moral beliefs. Senator McCain has given us a worthwhile, empowering book.--William C. Hall
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on April 17, 2004
Senator McCain has put together stories of others that have shown courage in the face of fear and how they over came that fear through their courage and the courage of others to move on in life. Each of our lives have a fear factor and in his book he shows us that the fear factor can be over come. A must read- Larry Hobson- Author- "The Day Of The Rose"
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on May 15, 2004
I've never read anything by Senator McCain, but have been interested in his life story, and thought I would give this a shot. Frankly, I was expecting a typical politician's book, full of applause lines and self-serving anecdotes, and thin on depth.
What I found was exactly the opposite. Though the book is quite short, it is quite deep and thoughtful. McCain ponders some deep issues: what is courage? how can it be taught? what's the difference between valor and courage? Between fearlesness and courage? Between courage and zealotry? I really got the impression of an author giving us his deeply considered thoughts. Bravo!
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on May 14, 2004
Let me begin by saying that I admire Senator McClain and respect his lifetime of giving to this country. To endure what he has and still have such a fine outlook on this life in itself amazing.
I felt while reading this that I was being mentored on the life ahead. His best advice is in the last sentence of the book. Fear is the opportunity for courage, not proof of cowardice. That is so true. He writes about a variety of folks who in their own way found that courage needed to see them through. But, strangely he really doesn't write much about his own courage, either of that in the North Vietnam prison, or the courage to jump from his plane on the USS Enterprise when the ship almost was lost.
It is a very good read, one that is best read a bit at a time to be able to take in the experience that he writes about.
My favorite and simply amazing story is of Mitchell Red Cloud, to give your life so others might live speaks for itself. I can only imagine the hell that fighter endured with Chinese all around him.
A good read and with some very good advice from an American who most certainly has the right to give it.
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VINE VOICEon May 30, 2005
I have been a huge John McCain supporter for a while now and last year he wrote a book, Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life, that I have recently finished reading. McCain, with help from Mark Salter, never exactly answer the question directly, instead they explain by example, profiling different people from all part of life that have exhibited courage. This also helps McCain avoid writing a self help book listing how you can live a braver life.

McCain most obviously starts with a type of courage he has the most experience, those of which he saw first hand in Vietnam. But since this is not an autobiography, Special Forces master sergeant Roy Benavidez is the first person of courage that McCain talks about. His helicopter was shot down after a mistake, many of his comrades were wounded. Benavidez then helped everyone onto the helicopter meant to rescue them to the point where he collapses and presumed dead.

But this book is not a book about war stories as the story of Angela Dawson is next. Dawson was a mom in East Baltimore who tried to keep drugs and other bad elements out of her neighborhood. McCain also touches on people who fought in the Civil War, Civil Rights activists, athletes, and political prisoners among others.

For anyone who has heard John McCain speak knows that isn't the best orator out there and that translates into his writing style. There were many passages in the book that had to read a couple times to fully comprehend what McCain was getting at. But overall, the message is there and is worth reading, even if you have to read it more than once.
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VINE VOICEon December 9, 2007
In a day and age when words are often misused or overused, their meaning can get lost in translation. Too often we ascribe definitions or actions to words and leach away their power and potency. Such a word is courage, and Senator John McCain sets out to right that wrong, to bring back a definition and actions that can truly be described as courageous and not just masquerade in its disguise.

Whom better to write a book on courage than a man who survived a severe and torturous imprisonment during the Vietnam War? But ever the humble man that he is, McCain downplays his own past and instead relates how he drew strength from the examples of courage shown by those imprisoned with him, not from his own courage that faltered him too many times. This book is part essay, part admonition, and part brief biography of a variety of characters, all real people who have shown remarkable courage in the face of impossible odds and overwhelming dangers. From tales of unbelievable bravery on battlefields in WWII and the Korean war, to resistance efforts during WWII and against the oppresive Burmese government, to a steadfast nonviolent civil rights agitator, McCain uses remarkable stories to show how remarkable courage can be and how it should rightly be defined.

"Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life" is a quick read, with profound examinations of what it takes to desire courage within our lives and how to live in pursuit of it everyday. The brief biographical sketches are well-written and concise, offering insight into the ways situation can shape bravery in ordinary people, and relishing some perhaps little or unknown people to hold up as exemplars of this ideal. It leaves one examining their own life to see if they hold that spark to desire courage and the ideals that promote it, to honor those who have shown courage so that we can continue to be free, and to overcome the fears that threaten to hold us back.
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