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Hard Call: Great Decisions and the Extraordinary People Who Made Them Hardcover – August 14, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As he faces down the perplexing issues of war in Iraq and immigration reform at home, it's fitting that Arizona senator McCain, a contender for the 2008 Republican presidential bid, would spend time reflecting on principled stands that either "win a hero's welcome or indefinite pain and suffering." McCain and co-author Salter follow the blueprint of their previous book, Why Courage Matters, to provide readers with a series of character-as-history profiles of the men and women who shaped seminal moments in 20th century political and cultural history, from the integration of professional baseball to the pardoning of Richard Nixon to the end of the Cold War, as well as seemingly trivial accomplishments like the invention of the disposable razor ("Sell the shave, not the razor"). Throughout, an insider's view provides keen insight on the caprices of history and more than a few echoes of current events, most importantly the interplay between personal experience and national destiny. Meticulously crafted, this collection will appeal to those who respect McCain's reputation as a maverick for whom "faith and courage" ranks among the most important forces in human history.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Much admired for his integrity, McCain offers profiles of individuals who have been confronted with difficult situations and made heroic choices. He begins Bud Day, an air force major who escaped captivity in Vietnam in 1967 only to be recaptured and help others—including McCain—survive. McCain details the qualities represented in making the hard calls in life: awareness, foresight, timing, confidence, humility, and inspiration. The most important part of the equation is self-awareness, and McCain recalls how his own lack of self-awareness caused him to be captured in Vietnam. In separate chapters, he explores each of those qualities and provides examples of people who exemplify them. Branch Rickey, who broke the color barrier in American baseball by hiring Jackie Robinson, is profiled for his awareness of the pernicious impact of racism. Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, the former pacifist, who turned his considerable intellect to support World War II, is profiled for his humility in recognizing the paradox of war in the context of moral responsibility. McCain also cites former President Gerald Ford for his humility in showing mercy for disgraced President Nixon and pardoning him, at great political cost. Among the inspirational profiles are Apollo II mission commander Neil Armstrong and Captain Robert Gould Shaw, who commanded the all-black Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry during the Civil War. McCain and cowriter Salter treat all of those profiled in great detail, providing the historical context for their hard calls. Bush, Vanessa

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Twelve; 1 edition (August 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446580406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446580403
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,726,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Yes, I know it probably serves his political career to co-write the books he does, but this is the second time I've read one of McCain's collaborations (the other was Character Is Destiny) and once again I'm impressed by what I read. Be assured that nowhere in Hard Call is there a divisive political message; no place is there anything that could be called a clear-cut campaign commercial for McCain `08. What McCain and Salter have done is celebrate acts of personal courage on behalf of figures from recent and more distant history, and they've done it in an inspiring way. Once upon a time stories like these were known to Americans great and small and were the cornerstone of civics classes mandatory at virtually all schools in America, but no longer: and our culture is the worse for that. Telling tales of peacemakers who risked it all, and warriors who saved democracy, of capitalists whose actions benefited millions, to inventors who stood true to idealistic dreams in the face of scorn, these authors have given us examples of occasions when individualism and tenacity combined with sheer bravery to achieve what was best, and what was right. Concentrating on six qualities that constitute the best path in decision making, and emphasizing each in due course, McCain and Salter have given us a book that's as enjoyable to read as it is enlightening and inspiring. I hope to see it on the best seller lists for a long time to come.
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Format: Hardcover
For the first time in memory, the hyperbole, on the inside of the book cover jacket, was less, than actually provided in the book! The jacket preview, mentioned Branch Rickey, Jackie Robinson, Winston Churchill, Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin, Gertrude Ederle, Reinhold Niebuhr, and Abraham Lincoln. Yet, unbelievably, there are many more, astounding, historical figures, chronicled in this poignant, absorbing, trip through history.

The author's, zero in on six qualities, that they feel influence the best decisions: Awareness, timing, foresight, confidence, humility and inspiration. Though that might be evident, in the historical situations set forth in this book, I feel, the author's, are being a bit reticent, in not openly stating, how much more information they provide, on these amazing subjects.

The book is divided into six sections. One for each of the qualities listed above. Within those sections, the individual historical characters are divided, and I purposely have not used the phrase, chapters. Because chapters wouldn't do justice, to what I personally, would call "mini-biographies".

Some of the characters not mentioned above, include: Marshall Field, Alexander Graham Bell, Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, King Gillette, Robert Goddard, Werner von Braun, and more. The writing style is so well done, that the reader, many times, feels like he is the proverbial "fly on the wall", during worldwide, historical events. There are many amazing little tid-bits, or sidelights, to history, that add to your reading enjoyment. A few examples: Did you know that two other men had invented, what was needed to create the telephone, before Alexander Graham Bell?
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Format: Hardcover
If you are looking for insights into John McCains political leanings then you will have to look elsewhere.

If on the other hand you are looking for insight into his thought processes this is a solid read. McCain has had to make hard calls in his life, and his book emphasizes what can be learned from others who have been called upon to make hard choices.

You will find Hard Call divided into Six Major theme sections.

1. Awareness
2. Foresight
3. Timing
4. Confidence
5. Humility
6. Inspiration

Rather than giving you his version of the story in each lesson, McCain and co-author Mark Salter let you the reader come to your own conclusion.

It is a book that on first impression may seem a little thin, but in the days following you will find much to think about and reflect upon.

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Format: Hardcover
As a big fan of John McCain and one who purchased several copies (signed in person by Senator McCain) of his book, "Character Is Destiny", I took this book home and could not wait to open its covers and delve into another fine McCain piece. I was so disappointed. I closed the covers of the book and doubt I will struggle with it again anytime soon. I found the writing boring and repetitive. It seems that it takes paragraphs to make the point that could be made with one or two well crafted sentences. The characters are not fully developed; they all seem similar as viewed through the two authors' lenses.

What bothered me most about this book is that each individual depicted in the book is written about in the same, clinical and wordy style. I also found the approach of dissecting each depicted individual's decision process by trying to isolate and examine only one dimension of the decision process - "Awareness" for example - to be a limiting approach in helping the reader try to understand the dimensions of the decision process as it applies to decision-making with much at risk.

Frankly, I found this book boring, in my opinion.
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