"This is a book about that most admirable of human virtues - courage. 'Grace under pressure', Ernest Hemingway defined it. And these are the stories of the pressures experienced by eight United States senators and the grace with which they endured them." (John F. Kennedy)
During 1954-1955, John F. Kennedy, then a US senator, chose eight of his historical colleagues to profile for their acts of astounding integrity in the face of overwhelming opposition. These heroes include John Quincy Adams, Daniel Webster, Thomas Hart Benton, and Robert A. Taft.
Awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1957, Profiles in Courage - now reissued, featuring a new introduction by Caroline Kennedy as well as Robert Kennedy's foreword written for the memorial edition of the volume in 1964 - resounds with timeless lessons on the most cherished of virtues and is a powerful reminder of the strength of the human spirit. It is, as Robert Kennedy states in the foreword, "not just stories of the past but a hook of hope and confidence for the future. What happens to the country, to the world, depends on what we do with what others have left us".
©1955, 1956 John F. Kennedy; copyright 1984 renewed by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Foreword copyright 1964 by Robert F. Kennedy. Introduction copyright 2003 by Caroline Kennedy. (P)2003, 2016 HarperCollins Publishers
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I read this book back in the 1960s. I saw this abridged audiobook on Audible and decided to use it for a review of the book. I normally do not like abridged books but I have found them useful as a quick review of a book I had read years ago and want to refresh my memory.
This book was written in 1955 about the most admirable of human virtues -courage. The author provided a brief discussion of eight United States Senators in their moment of courage. JFK doesn’t say that each act of courage was successful or even right. They acted and stood by their conscience belief of what was best for the country. I was most familiar with the story of John Quincy Adams, but the story of Thomas Hart Benton was unknown to me. The courage of Daniel Webster was remarkable, knowing the stand he took for the country would ruin his political career, but he did it anyway because he believed it was best for the country.
The forward was by Carolyn Kennedy. The book won the 1957 Pulitzer Prize. The book was narrated by John F. Kennedy Jr.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
"A man does what he must — in spite of personal consequences, in spite of obstacles and dangers, and pressures — and that is the basis of all human morality.”
― John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage
It is now almost tradition that presidential candidates will publish a book prior to campaigning for the highest elected office. Profiles in Courage, however, was one of the earliest and most successful of these campaign books. While Kennedy largely wrote the beginning the end of the book, the profiles of the senators profiled in this book were largely written by Ted Sorenson.
The book also won the Pulitzer Prize, but when viewed objectively is best seen as more hype than history. This doesn't mean the book isn't good and interesting. It certainly was brilliant in providing more light and more prestige on this young Senator from Massachusetts, but it is hard to also take the book completely serious as history. Perhaps, I'm too cynical. Perhaps, I'm too narrow, but it seems more contrived than commendable, more packaged than pleasurable, and more directed at increasing Kennedy's profile than increasing American courage.*
* This comes from a comment often attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt that she wished "Kennedy had a little less profile and more courage".
I didn't realize this was abridged until after I finished the book. Perhaps an unabridged version would be more satisfying. It seemed very incomplete.
I wanted to love this. It was written by JFK, a hero to me. It was read by his son. And these days, there are too few courageous statesmen. The problem is that JFK is not a great writer. The people he writes about are worthy of praise, but his writing does not make them come alive. Biographies have gotten so good these days, many are page-turners. I loved Unger's recent bio of John Quincy Adams. Kennedy's portrait of him was so flat in comparison. While one can do more in a full book, the New Yorker has amazing portraits of similar length to the portraits in Profiles of Courage. If you want inspirational history, read the Unger book, or McCullough's John Adams or Truman. Or White's American Ulysses. As a narrator, John Kennedy Jr. was pretty good for a non-professional, but he was not as good as the pros. While I am glad that I listened to this, I found myself thinking more about the new FDR bio that I want to read. That said, I loved the concept behind Profiles of Courage - stories of politicians that put the good of the country first.
Honestly, on of the best political books I have ever read. I pray that our country still has these types of politicians.
The early accounts were details and interesting.
A good night's sleep.
Pretty monotone and trying to over sell the story.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.