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Heroes: From Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and de Gaulle (P.S.) Paperback – Bargain Price, December 2, 2008
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About the Author
Paul Johnson is a historian whose work ranges across the millennia and the whole gamut of human activities. He contributes a weekly essay to The Spectator and a monthly column to Forbes, and lectures around the world. He lives in London.
Top Customer Reviews
In this volume, Johnson attempts to explain heroes and heroism within the context of historical setting. The effort is a mixed success. Consider, for example, his use of Mae West and Marilyn Monroe as examplars of female heroism in the 20th Century.
Both portraits make their point and make it well. Both West and Monroe were more accomplished than most might give them credit for. West was a dynamic self-promoter for all of her life and an accomplished writer, actress, comedian and business person. But Monroe was a different story. She never fully actualized the person she wanted to become, though Johnson leaves no doubt that she did want to be viewed as a different kind of person. Does Monroe's failed effort make her a hero? Not to me, though Johnson draws a sympathetic portrait.
Overall, Johnson's portraits do indeed make the case that heroism comes in many guises and that men and women can be heroes. As well, the qualities of heroism remain constant, a steady moral compass regardless of what the crowds are doing.
While interesting, though, "Heroes" is never totally engaging. It is a pleasant and informative read, but not a particularly challenging one. Johnson is telling us his views here set in historical context.
Most would disagree with his choices but then the idea of hero is quite subjective. Some will (and have) criticized the book for its European viewpoint (quote unquote) but if that is the culture within which one was raised, educated and lived, what can one expect. Johnson continues his love affair with America, the home of six heroes. (Britain has the highest number with 15; The others are scattered.) His selection reminds me of GUNS & GOLD, the great story of the Anglo-American alliance that essentially built the modern liberal world.
I would have never included Wittgenstein, Lady Pamela Berry or Marilyn Monroe in this list but somehow it "works". The author discusses the commmon perception of heroes, the fact that we instantly associate military valor and personnel with the modern version of heroism. Missing were folks like Mother Theresa, politicians (besides those great for what they accomplished. Johnson continues to celebrate the individual, stressing repeatedly that it is not mass movements, academic theories or ideology that drives the world - indeed, they are three of the biggest deterrents to progress - but individuals and what they do with their lives. My Grade: A-
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Typical Paul Johnson read! An obvious scholar with a flare for writing readably.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a book one goes back and back to. Also, his recommendations of other historical writings is one of the best in the field.Published on July 18, 2014 by Stuart D. Walker
This might actually be the worst, most anti-intellectual book I have ever read. This author is in every sense an imbecile, I cannot believe someone could write such trite,... Read morePublished on May 5, 2014 by Roman G.
Johnson always captures the essence of individuals and the times. He was uncharacteristically wrong about the shallowness of Reagan however.Published on March 25, 2014 by Ann Perkins Weidie
When I see a book authored by Paul Johnson I know I am going to be intellectually stimulated. I "click" with his almost automatic habit of placing his literary material... Read morePublished on March 13, 2014 by jeanette frances conway
Another well done book by the author. Short, concise text filled with details.
I really enjoy his writing... and his subject matter.
I started reading Paul Johnson with his The Offshore Islanders back in the mid-1970s, Modern Times Revised Edition: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties (Perennial... Read morePublished on October 11, 2013 by Dr Garry