Profiles in Courage for Our Time

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Nearly half a century after then-Senator John F. Kennedy was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Profiles in Courage, the Kennedy family continues to keep alive the tradition of honoring selfless public service with its Profiles in Courage Award. Now in paperback, Profiles in Courage for Our Time pays tribute to 13 such heroes in the same spirit as the original collection. Some of our greatest writers have brought their formidable talents to this celebration of modern political bravery including Michael Beschloss, ...

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Nearly half a century after then-Senator John F. Kennedy was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Profiles in Courage, the Kennedy family continues to keep alive the tradition of honoring selfless public service with its Profiles in Courage Award. Now in paperback, Profiles in Courage for Our Time pays tribute to 13 such heroes in the same spirit as the original collection. Some of our greatest writers have brought their formidable talents to this celebration of modern political bravery including Michael Beschloss, Anna Quindlen, Bob Woodward, and Marian Wright Edelman. Also included is Caroline Kennedy's profile of the latest award recipient, Kofi Annan. These are just a few of the luminaries who eloquently and passionately record the experiences of the award winners. This celebration of modern political bravery demonstrates that heroism among today's elected officials is as possible and inspiring as ever.

"The Profiles in Courage Award seeks to honor those whose lives of service prove that politics can be a noble profession. We hope that Americans realize that there are men and women serving at all levels of our government who are legends of our time." —Caroline Kennedy

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In the spirit of her father's Pulitzer Prize–winning Profiles in Courage, Caroline Kennedy has assembled a collection of essays celebrating the winners of the prestigious annual Profiles in Courage Award. The pair-ups are impressive: Michael Beschloss on Carl Elliot; Anna Quindlen on James Florio; Pete Hamill on Henry Gonzalez; Bob Woodward on Gerald Ford. An attractively packaged book about civic heroes.
High-profile names of the editor and writers will attract wide interest.
Publishers Weekly
In 1957, then-senator John F. Kennedy won a Pulitzer Prize for Profiles in Courage. In 1990, the Kennedy family resurrected the concept and established the Profiles in Courage Award for selfless public service. Now, in this expertly packaged anthology, Caroline Kennedy and over a dozen prominent writers bring the sacrifices of those award winners to life. Some essays address famous leaders like the Good Friday peacemakers in Ireland and campaign-finance-reform stalwarts John McCain and Russell Feingold. Others hail lesser-known local officials, like school superintendent Corkin Cherubini, who braved a firestorm to end race-based tracking in Georgia. All the winners acted with a rare breed of selfless courage but sometimes this courage came at a terrible cost. U.S. Representative Carl Elliot Sr. was chased out of office in 1964 because he fought segregation in Alabama; by the time he won the first Profile in Courage Award, he was living alone in a ramshackle house, confined to a wheelchair by diabetes and hounded by creditors. Kennedy has assembled an impressive roster of writers to compose these mostly inspirational stories: Michael Beschloss, Anna Quindlen, Albert R. Hunt. The most audacious essay in the collection belongs to Bob Woodward, who reverses 25 years of conventional wisdom in arguing that former president Gerald Ford should be applauded for his pardon of Richard Nixon after Watergate. Of course, not all of the essays have the same level of distinction, but all share the same Kennedy spirit. Unabashedly liberal and pro-government, this collection is a stirring look at people who rarely thought about what they could do for themselves, but always about what they could do for their country. (May) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
In the original Profiles, John F. Kennedy cites Ernest Hemingway's "Grace under pressure," to define courage. But this definition is more a reflection of the Kennedy penchant for style than a useful description of the virtue. His daughter has stretched that qualification again, suggesting that these new "profiles" reflect a more contemporary understanding of courage. One does feel the weight of generational narcissism posed in the subtitle, "For Our Time," which perhaps anticipates that not everyone will agree with all 16 Profiles-In-Courage Award winners and nearly a dozen "Irish Peacemakers" also feted with the "Silver Lantern" Award. All, of course are worthy recipients, if in some cases, controversial. There are those who raise courage to a higher level of recognition; people who knowingly lay their lives on the line for high principle or to save others. John Lewis, now Congressman from Georgia and Nickolas C. Murnion, a prosecuting attorney from rural Garfield County, fall into that category and are by far, the two most compelling stories in this book. Lewis pitted his life against attack dogs, the permanently crippling aftermath of brickbats and skin-peeling fire hoses to bring the first glimmer of real freedom and dignity to African Americans. Murnion, from small-town Jordan, Montana (pop. 365), "took on a band of home-grown terrorists, anarchic, coherently livid, armed-to-the-teeth "Freeman," endangering his own life when he confronted the lawlessness of this militia who seized the town, cowed the local police and were only a few miles and minutes away from lynching him." Compare these profiles to James Florio, former Governor of New Jersey, who is praised for standing up to theNational Rifle Association on laws banning automatic weapons even though all the police institutions in the state and most of New Jersey voters supported the ban. Florio was defeated in a brilliant sub-rosa attack by the NRA, not for his stand on assault weapons but for his tax increases. The Governor never knew what hit him until it was too late. President Ford is cited for his "courageous" pardon of Richard Nixon, a decision he made after a particularly nettlesome press conference in which he complained, "too many questions are about Nixon." Responding privately to aides he added, "We can't have this for the next two and half years." The prism of history filters our emotions in a way not possible when we evaluate the character or the times of contemporary figures; particularly those who are still with us. Teachers might consider assigning students a comparative analysis of the characters in both the original and latter-day Profiles. How would John McCain, Lowell Weicker and Kofi Annan stand up to the bravery of Daniel Webster, Thomas Hart Benton and Sam Houston as each faced the demon issues of their times? KLIATT Codes: SA;Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Hyperion, 361p.,
— William Kircher
Kirkus Reviews
Character sketches of 14 men and women who have won the Profiles in Courage Award, which recognizes elected officials who "stood fast for the ideals of America." Gratifyingly, this is not just another collection of eulogies; some of the winners have blots on their political escutcheons that are duly noted. Nor will all readers agree on the worthiness of each recipient, as the obvious case of Gerald Ford attests. Ford's pardon of Richard Nixon "was the only way of ending the public and media obsession with his predecessor's future," Bob Woodward unconvincingly claims, begging the point that the obsession arose from concern over the consequences of illegal acts in high office and the impeccable standards to which citizens (we hope) hold those who hold office. Other winners are more obviously laudable, such as Texas Representative Henry B. Gonzalez, who fought Jim Crow laws in his home state and "totally resisted the prevailing slickness that was debasing our politics," as Pete Hamill puts it. Corkin Cherubini, captured by Marion Wright Edelman, fought race-based tracking ("a kind of educational apartheid") as superintendent of Georgia's public schools. California Senator Hilda Solis, profiled by Anthony Walton, constructed legal guidelines that identified and mitigated "the negative environmental and health effects of pollution and waste-disposal facilities on low-income and minority populations." An example of a fence-straddler is Carl Elliott Sr., congressman from Alabama. As Michael Beschloss writes, much can be said for Elliott's "aid-to-education bill," which sought to bring equality to the Alabama school system. Yet he also signed the notorious "Southern Manifesto" and truckled toGeorge Wallace's racist politics. By and large, a refreshing sampling of political legacies cleaving to the notion of equality and justice on behalf of the weak and exploited
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786886784
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 5/1/2003
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 374
  • Sales rank: 213,585
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Caroline Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy is the editor of the New York Times bestselling A Patriot's Handbook, Profiles in Courage for Our Time, The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, A Family of Poems, and the coauthor of The Right to Privacy and In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action. She serves as the Vice Chair of the Fund for Public Schools in New York City and President of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. She lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Carl Elliott, Sr 9
Charles Longstreet Weltner 31
Lowell Weicker, Jr. 53
James Florio 69
Henry B. Gonzalez 89
Michael L. Synar 109
Corkin Cherubini 141
Charles Price 157
Nickolas C. Murnion 175
The Irish Peacemakers 206
John McCain and Russell Feingold 249
Hilda Solis 269
Gerald R. Ford 293
John Lewis 319
Profile in Courage Award 2002: Heroes of September 11, Dean Koldenhoven, Kofi Annan 345
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Last summer during the debate on the Patients' bill of Rights, I took my daughter, Rose, to see her Great-Uncle Teddy at work in the United States Senate. When we arrived, he was speaking on the floor, so we waited in the colorful hallway outside the Senate Chamber. We spotted a few senators talking quietly with their staff members. Around a corner, throngs of visitors shuffled past as pages and interns ran for the elevators, and lobbyists waited by the marble busts - a typical morning in the Capitol. Thrilled to see us when he emerged from the chamber, Teddy led us up stairs, around corners, into side chambers in search of his colleagues and friends. We seemed to be at the end of our tour when he grabbed Rose's arm and said, "You haven't seen the Senate Reception Room." Off we went again, loping to keep up, until we turned a corner and stopped. I looked up at the ceiling and saw portraits of legendary nineteenth-century senators, Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun - men who followed their conscience in pursuit of the national interest - as I listened to Teddy tell the story of how my father had gotten the idea for his Pulitzer prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage . My father's own political career, that of his brother Bobby, and now for so many years the work Teddy has done, inspired a generation of Americans to believe in the power of government and to share the conviction that politics can truly be a noble profession. As I stood in that room, I felt a continuity of spirit reaching across time and into the future as I looked at Teddy and Rose. This book is part of that continuum. I am grateful that so many writers of distinction brought their insights and wisdom to illuminate the acts of courage chronicled here. My father believed in the power of words to lead, to inspire, and to bring about change in the world. My mother took great pride in the fact that the Kennedy Library is the home of the papers of Ernest Hemingway, whose definition of courage as "grace under pressure" was my father's favorite. This book is a celebration of my parents' love of literature, as well as their commitment to public service. I hope that the stories here will inspire another generation to believe in the power of words, the importance of public service, and the necessity of political courage. For it is in words that deeds live on. In Profiles in Courage , my father told the stories of eight senators who acted on principle and in the national interest, even though it put their own political careers at risk. One was Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, the greatest orator of his time, who voted for the Compromise of 1850, which prevented the South from seceding and preserved the Union for an additional, and critical, ten years. His vote placed him at odds with his constituents and his party, and it cost him a chance to be president. Another was Thomas Hart Benton, the fiery Missouri senator who fought to keep slavery from expanding West despite representing a slaveholding constituency that ultimately dismissed him from office after thirty years of statesmanship. Perhaps the most dramatic story is that of Edmund G. Ross, newly elected from Kansas, who followed his conscience, rather than the wishes of his party, and cast the deciding vote against the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson, knowing it would cost him his career. "" . . . looked down into my open grave," Ross later wrote of the moments before he cast his vote. Neither Ross nor the seven other Republican senators who voted with him were ever returned to the Senate. Each of these men displayed a rare form of courage, sacrificing their own future, and that of their families, to do what they believed was right for our country. Their example comes down to us across the years, their stories are part of our history, and their spirit lives on. The John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award is presented annually to an elected official who carries on this tradition. When we created the award in 1990, some doubted we would be able to find politicians worthy of the honor. They were wrong. This book tells the stories of men and women at all levels of government, in all parts of our country, across the political spectrum, who have all stood fast for ideals of America. The courage celebrated here comes in many forms. It is the courage to compromise, as well as the courage to stand alone, the courage to cross party lines and build consensus, as well as the courage to stay the course. Sometimes one single selfless act sums up a career. At other times, a politician must follow the law, or his conscience, over a course of time, hoping that ultimately his courage will be recognized when passions have cooled. At first, and then again last year, we sought to honor politicians like those in the original book, whose singular acts of courage in protecting the national interest put their own career at risk. When President Gerald R. Ford pardoned former President Richard Nixon, barely one month after taking office at the height of the Watergate scandal, he was almost universally condemned. Yet that act of conscience in the national interest, though it may have cost Ford the presidency, has stood the test of time. Many stories in my father's book revolved around the crisis of slavery that tore our country apart in the nineteenth century. The modern struggle for civil rights has produced counterparts of equal bravery. There are men like Congressman Carl Elliott from Alabama and Congressman Charles Weltner of Georgia. Elliot fought for equal opportunity in education and was redistricted out of his congressional seat in retaliation for his principled stand. Weltner took an oath to support his party ticket until segregationist Lester Madox became the candidate for governor, whereupon Weltner followed his conscience and resigned his seat, rather than violate his oath or his belief that segregation was wrong. The Committee revisited the civil rights movement in 2001 on the fortieth anniversary of the Freedom Rides, when we presented Congressman John Lewis with a Lifetime Achievement Profile in Courage Award. In spite of brutal beatings and more than forty arrests, Lewis has never wavered in his commitment to civil rights, human rights, nonviolence, and securing for all Americans perhaps the most fundamental right in a democracy: the right to vote. Local battles are often among the most intense political fights, for public servants are placed in conflict with friends, neighbors, and colleagues with whom they share a lifetime of experience. Often too, their family's security is at risk. Rage, anger, and hostility can be directed not only at public officials, but also at those they love. Inspiring courage was demonstrated by Judge Charles Price when he ruled against another judge's defiantly unconstitutional courtroom display of the Ten Commandments. The Ward was given to Country Attorney Nickolas Murnion, who stood alone for the rule of law against the irrational and heavily armed Freemen, and to School Superintendent Corkin Cherubini, who took on an entrenched system of race-based tracking in the schools of Calhoun County, Georgia. Other awards recognize that new forms of courage are required to meet the challenges of our changing political landscape. In modern times, regional interests often become subsumed by special interests. Some of today's most difficult conflicts revolve around those who would bend the system to serve their own ends. The politicians who take them on do so at grave risk. These battles may require the courage to battle party leadership rather than local constituents, yet the fight is just as fierce and the stakes are just as high. Congressment Mike Synar and Henry B. Gonzalez, Governor Jim Florio, and Senators John McCain and Russell Feingold were willing to risk their careers to preserve the integrity of our system. New groups of Americans - women, African Americans, Latinos - have entered the political system, embracing a different kind of courage: the courage to compromise. Those entering the political system from historically disenfranchised groups are often taking a great risk simply by running for office. Once elected, they frequently are pitted against established and powerful interests. At times, they risk no only their political advancement but their physical safety, even though they remain popular with their constituents. Former California State Senator, now U.S. Representative Hilda Solis, who brought the issue of environmental justice to the forefront on behalf of the people of her ravaged district, exemplifies this kind of courage.
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2012

    unknown recommendation

    haven' yet read the book

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  • Posted October 13, 2011


    Taking a page from her father's Pulitzer prize winning book Profiles in Courage, Caroline Kennedy wrote Profiles in Courage for Our Time.
    A collection of essays by distinct individuals on winners of the Profile in Courage Award given by the Kennedy Library Foundation and are a cross section of America's heroes. One award was granted to the Heroes of September 11.
    From Gerald Ford unpopular decision to pardon Richard Nixon to the resilient John Lewis who was literally beat up on the Petus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.
    What I find most useful in this book is it gives you a good sense and background of individuals of which you may have heard their name but were not familiar with what exactly they did.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2005

    Profiles of Courage -- excellent reading material

    Chose the book to read during winter break and I am glad that I did. I am planning on reading the other Profiles of Courage books that have been written. Besides being enjoyable to read, I have better understanding and knowledge about these individuals. Thank you ----

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