In A Call to Heroism, Peter H. Gibbon argues that heroic ideals are fundamental to the enterprise of American liberty and to the very fabric of our nation's culture. In tracing the evolution of our collective vision of greatness from the age of our founders to today's celebrity-obsessed media age, he concludes that although our reverence for these ideals may have eroded along the way, we now have a unique opportunity to forge a new understanding of what it means to be a hero, one that will fortify the next generation of American leaders as we engage the challenges that lie ahead.
Gibbon believes that our multicultural society can be brought together through cherishing our history's exemplary men and women who have sacrificed for causes greater than themselves. These include not only traditional civic heroes such as George Washington but also heroes of ideas and conscience: scientists, educators, religious leaders, and activists. Gibbon also contemplates the meanings of seven monuments and artworks dedicated to heroes, including the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, Jean-Antoine Houdon's bust of Benjamin Franklin, and Mount Rushmore, to examine what these memorials say about the America of their time and what they mean for us today.
A Call to Heroism is a provocative book full of insight and inspiration.
"Gibbon [reminds] us real heroes are not celebrities but those whose lives are devoted to the highest ideals of society." (Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University Research Professor)
This book makes a convincing argument that the traditional hero is a thing of the past. One who reads only half of this book may walk away feeling that the author has degraded his or her own personal heros. It might be a tough pill to swallow, but denying the accuracy of the argument is rather difficult.
If you would rather blindly believe in your heros' greatness, and naively dismiss any flaws, then this book is not for you. On the other hand, if you're willing to accept how the information age is forced to humanize any semi-mortal hero, you might find it interesting what the new definition of heroism could become.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
In these troubled times, I--not "society", or "culture"--but me *personally*--want to look to heroes for inspiration. I want to hear about their achievements amidst adversity. I want to hear how they overcame in situations much worse than the ones I commonly face.
What I don't want is for some postmodern egghead to deconstruct the heroic into some cultural phenomenon designed to satisfy some impulse to pacify, unite and control.
I was looking to be inspired. Instead, I got a college lecture, and not even a good one.
By way of disclosure, I stopped listening at 15 minutes, the writing seemingly on the wall. If the author did a 180 after that point, my sincere apologies. Otherwise, stay away from this one unless postmodern deconstruction is your thing.
5 of 8 people found this review helpful