Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life

Unabridged Audiobook

Written By: Mark Salter, John McCain

Narrated By: Dan Cashman

Publisher: Random House (Audio)

Date: January 2004

Duration: 4 hours 34 minutes


“Courage,” Winston Churchill explained, is “the first of human qualities . . . because it guarantees all the others.” As a naval officer, P.O.W., and one of America’s most admired political leaders, John McCain has seen countless acts of bravery and self-sacrifice. Now, in this inspiring meditation on courage, he shares his most cherished stories of ordinary individuals who have risked everything to defend the people and principles they hold most dear.

“We are taught to understand, correctly, that courage is not the absence of fear but the capacity for action despite our fears,” McCain reminds us, as a way of introducing the stories of figures both famous and obscure that he finds most compelling—from the Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi to Sgt. Roy Benavidez, who ignored his own well-being to rescue eight of his men from an ambush in the Vietnam jungle; from 1960s civil rights leader John Lewis, who wrote, “When I care about something, I’m prepared to take the long, hard road,” to Hannah Senesh, who, in protecting her comrades in the Hungarian resistance against Hitler’s SS, chose a martyr’s death over a despot’s mercy.

These are some of the examples McCain turns to for inspiration and offers to others to help them summon the resolve to be both good and great. He explains the value of courage in both everyday actions and extraordinary feats. We learn why moral principles and physical courage are often not distinct quantities but two sides of the same coin. Most of all, readers discover how sometimes simply setting the right example can be the ultimate act of courage.

Written by one of our most respected public figures, Why Courage Matters is that rare book with a message both timely and timeless. This is a work for anyone seeking to understand how the mystery and gift of courage can empower us and change our lives.


  • Anonymous

    It is no wonder he didn't win the election. This book was not at all what I expected. It is not well written and the author shouldn't have narrated it either. This book helped me decide NOT to vote for him in the election.

  • Andy

    A must read, Please read O'Bama's Audacity of Hope also and it will provide a good contrast in how the two individually feel about the world and how to solve problems. John reinforces the belief in the individual and that they can overcome any odds if the will is strong enough.

  • Jennifer P

    I requested this book to learn more about John McCain. I have heard about his courage under extremely horrible circumstances and I am impressed with both his humility and how he honors those who he admires. The detailed description of war was more than I cared to hear. Too Much. Overall, it did impress and inspire me just knowing about the courage and conviction of these incredible people.