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 sanctify
sociopolitical 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). (Kirkus Reviews)
Prime Minister Gordon Brown explores the lives of eight outstanding
twentieth-century figures, in order to better understand courage.
These eight heroes are very different people, with very different
strengths and frailties, but all share an extraordinary and
inspirational courage that Brown celebrates in these fascinating
and moving portraits.
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