Courage: Portraits of Bravery in the Service of Great Causes

Courage: Portraits of Bravery in the Service of Great Causes

by Gordon Brown
     
 

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In the tradition of John F. Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize-winning Profiles in Courage, Prime Minister Gordon Brown's fascinating collection of inspirational leaders is destined to become a staple of every politically conscious reader's library as his already-significant profile grows exponentially around the world.

The prime minister explores the lives of eight

Overview

In the tradition of John F. Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize-winning Profiles in Courage, Prime Minister Gordon Brown's fascinating collection of inspirational leaders is destined to become a staple of every politically conscious reader's library as his already-significant profile grows exponentially around the world.

The prime minister explores the lives of eight outstanding twentieth-century figures to uncover why some men and women make difficult decisions and do the right thing when easier and far less dangerous alternatives are open to them. Those profiled range from icons such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy to lesser-known figures such as Edith Cavell, who nursed the wounded of World War I in Belgium and helped Allied soldiers escape, and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who returned to Nazi Germany from New York to lead the Christian opposition against Hitler's regime. Bringing his personal reflections to these intimate portraits, Brown illuminates a common thread of inspiring courage in every one of these eight heroes and, in doing so, introduces us to his own inspiring values.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

British prime minister Brown profiles eight paragons in this warm, plainspoken volume of moral homiletics. Three of his subjects faced the 20th century's greatest test of courage, the Germans in the two world wars: Edith Cavell, an English nurse shot by the kaiser's troops for helping fugitive Allied soldiers escape occupied Belgium; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who was hanged after speaking out against Hitler; and Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of Hungarian Jews from annihilation. Latter-day martyrs include Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and imprisoned Burmese democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi. Rounding out the roster are Robert Kennedy, saluted in part for his early embrace of a New Laboresque "Third Way" politics, and Cicely Saunders, who fought a callous medical establishment to found the hospice movement. Brown touches on personal idiosyncrasies-Bonhoeffer's soul-searching, Wallenberg's bravado, Kennedy's rivalry with his older brothers-to illuminate his subjects' actions, but dwells on the blunt fact of their readiness to act on principle regardless of safety. There's not much deep psychological insight, but what makes Brown's accounts inspiring, and occasionally moving, is precisely that his heroes' actions speak for themselves. 8 pages of b&w photos. (Apr.)

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Kirkus Reviews
UK Prime Minister Brown (Moving Britain Forward: Selected Speeches, 1997-2006, 2006, etc.) considers eight political mavericks who fought for righteous social causes, often sacrificing their lives. Four of his subjects are of unquestioned global stature: Raoul Wallenberg, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy and Nelson Mandela. Four, perhaps lesser known, quickly prove worthy of Brown's scholarship. Edith Cavell innovated nursing practices during World War I and helped many Allied prisoners escape from occupied Belgium; she was eventually court-martialed and shot. German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer resisted the Nazi regime. Cicely Saunders single-handedly upgraded standards of palliative care for the terminally ill and developed the hospice idea. Aung San Suu Kyi, under house arrest in Myanmar since 1989, won the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy of democracy and nonviolence. Occasionally, the book benefits from Brown's personal acquaintance with his subject. His affectionate profile of Mandela, for example, is full of refreshing insights into the South African leader. Other chapters-such as those covering Wallenberg, King and Kennedy-are not groundbreaking, but they do convey the author's sense of reverence and respect; readers learn as much about Brown's worldview as about the people he depicts. The generous inclusion of correspondence, first-person interviews and other primary-source materials invests each meticulous profile with an air of authenticity. Brown consistently demonstrates the lucid, unwavering, objective eye of a historian, detailing all the frustrations and errors of his subjects, whose character flaws he is unafraid to point out. His portraits do not sanctifysociopolitical icons; instead they celebrate ordinary men and women called to extraordinary feats in the service of causes that stirred their passion. Well-written and heartfelt-a worthy companion to its obvious inspiration, John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage (1956).

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781602860582
Publisher:
Weinstein Books
Publication date:
05/05/2009
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
File size:
361 KB

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