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Character Is Destiny
Cover of Character Is Destiny
Character Is Destiny
Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember

John McCain tells the stories of celebrated historical figures and lesser-known heroes whose values exemplify the best of the human spirit in Character Is Destiny. He illustrates these qualities with moving stories of triumph against the odds, hope in adversity, and sacrifices for a cause greater than self-interest. Among the heroes of exemplary character we meet are

• Pat Tillman, whose patriotism obliged him to leave the riches and celebrity of the NFL for a soldier's life in defense of his country

  • Winston Churchill, who, in a renowned eighteen-word remark, counseled schoolboys to "never give up"
  • the Catholic priest in Auschwitz who offered to take a condemned man's place
  • a nun, formerly a comfortable Beverly Hills housewife, who works with prisoners in Mexico's worst jails
  • George Washington, whose wisdom and hard-earned self-control helped him survive the chaos of war

    Character Is Destiny is McCain's moving and eloquent tribute to men and women who have lived truthfully, and whose stories will stir the hearts of young and old alike and help prepare us for the hard work of choosing our own destinies.

    Praise for Character Is Destiny

    "An eclectic collection of heroes . . . [John McCain] will be remembered in a volume like this some day."The Washington Post Book World
    "Uplifting . . . inspiring . . . The lessons of these people's lives are as relevant to adults as to children."Minneapolis Star Tribune
    "McCain can surprise you, and Character Is Destiny surprises in the diversity of its cast."Houston Chronicle

    "McCain has made a declaration of values that liberals can embrace as readily as conservatives."Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • John McCain tells the stories of celebrated historical figures and lesser-known heroes whose values exemplify the best of the human spirit in Character Is Destiny. He illustrates these qualities with moving stories of triumph against the odds, hope in adversity, and sacrifices for a cause greater than self-interest. Among the heroes of exemplary character we meet are

    • Pat Tillman, whose patriotism obliged him to leave the riches and celebrity of the NFL for a soldier's life in defense of his country

  • Winston Churchill, who, in a renowned eighteen-word remark, counseled schoolboys to "never give up"
  • the Catholic priest in Auschwitz who offered to take a condemned man's place
  • a nun, formerly a comfortable Beverly Hills housewife, who works with prisoners in Mexico's worst jails
  • George Washington, whose wisdom and hard-earned self-control helped him survive the chaos of war

    Character Is Destiny is McCain's moving and eloquent tribute to men and women who have lived truthfully, and whose stories will stir the hearts of young and old alike and help prepare us for the hard work of choosing our own destinies.

    Praise for Character Is Destiny

    "An eclectic collection of heroes . . . [John McCain] will be remembered in a volume like this some day."The Washington Post Book World
    "Uplifting . . . inspiring . . . The lessons of these people's lives are as relevant to adults as to children."Minneapolis Star Tribune
    "McCain can surprise you, and Character Is Destiny surprises in the diversity of its cast."Houston Chronicle

    "McCain has made a declaration of values that liberals can embrace as readily as conservatives."Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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    Excerpts-
    • Chapter One part one


      Honor


      Greatness knows itself.


      -henry iv


      HONESTY


      Thomas More


      He surrendered everything for the truth as he saw it,and shamed a king with the courage of his conscience.


      Such a scene it must have been, that it broke the hardest heart that witnessed it. Margaret More Roper, beloved oldest daughter of Sir Thomas More, pushed through the crowd and past the armed guards to embrace and cover her father with kisses as he was escorted to his place of imprisonment, from where, in six days, he would be executed for the crime of being honest.


      Thomas More blessed his daughter and tenderly consoled her before she reluctantly let go of him, and the somber party resumed its progress to the Tower of London. But her distress was too great to be restrained, and she again rushed to his side, to hold and kiss him. Her husband, William Roper, remembered that most of the large crowd that had gathered in curiosity to see the famous prisoner, who had been one of the most powerful men in England, wept at the sight of this sad parting of a loving father and daughter.


      Thomas More was born in 1478 into a prosperous London family, but not part of the nobility that ruled England in the fifteenth century. The Mores had no inherited titles to ease their way in the world. They succeeded by their own industry, intelligence, and character. Thomas's father, John, was a successful and influential lawyer, who could afford to send his oldest son to a good school, St. Anthony's, where young Thomas impressed his tutors as a gifted, hardworking, and good-humored boy.


      At the recommendation of St. Anthony's headmaster, Thomas was sent to serve as a page to the second-most-powerful man in England, Cardinal John Morton, the archbishop of Canterbury, at the archbishop's court, Lambeth Palace. It must have been a dazzling experience for a young boy, for only in the royal court was there greater splendor or more important activity; the old archbishop managed, on the king's behalf, and his own, to restrain the power of the feudal lords, who had made England in the past nearly impossible to govern. Morton was a wise and great statesman as well as a faithful prince of the Church. Thomas closely observed, admired, and learned from his master's genius for politics, which in those times was a dangerous profession, and his sincere priestly devotion. For his part, the archbishop felt great affection for his cheerful and precocious page, who he proclaimed would someday "prove to be a marvelous man."


      He was so impressed by young Thomas's talents and character that he sponsored his education at Oxford University, where Thomas was a brilliant student. He loved learning, and would for the rest of his life prefer the less prestigious but more satisfying rewards of a scholar to the riches and power of the king's court. He began his studies at Oxford in the same year Columbus discovered the New World, and the Renaissance was flowering in Southern Europe. In England, the era of feudalism, when nobles ruled their lands with the power of life and death over the serfs who slaved for them, was approaching its end, and the influence of merchants, lawyers, and other prosperous commoners was on the rise.


      More's father gave him only a small allowance while he was at Oxford so that he wouldn't have money to tempt him toward "dangerous and idle pastimes." Despite his poverty, Thomas couldn't have been happier. He thrived among his fellow scholars, who were making their presence felt in this period of historic change, as the dark and brutal Middle Ages began to give way to a more hopeful age of learning...
    About the Author-
    • Senator John McCain entered the Naval Academy in June of 1954 and served in the United States Navy until 1981. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona in 1982 and to the Senate in 1986. The Republican Party's nominee for president in the 2008 election, McCain was also the author of Faith of My Fathers, Worth the Fighting For, Why Courage Matters, Character Is Destiny, Hard Call, Thirteen Soldiers, and The Restless Wave. John McCain died in 2018.

      Mark Salter is the author, with John McCain, of several books, including Faith of My Fathers and The Restless Wave. He served on Senator McCain's staff for almost twenty years.

    Reviews-
    • Publisher's Weekly

      Starred review from September 26, 2005
      As in last year's Why Courage Matters
      , McCain's latest volume uses biography as an illustration of virtue, but this time the senator broadens his palette significantly, telling 34 stories of heroes whose lives embody qualities ranging from honesty and loyalty to curiosity and enthusiasm. At the root of them all, he says, is a willingness to stay true to one's conscience against all challenges. Thus martyrs appear prominently, from Thomas More and Joan of Arc to Edith Cavell and Father Maximilian Kolbe, as do military heroes, including Pat Tillman, the pro football player whose love of country led him to enlist in the army shortly after 9/11. But the pantheon is inclusive enough to hold Aung San Suu Kyi and Gandhi alongside Churchill and Eisenhower. Although he is reaching out to a younger readership, McCain's plain but sincere language does not condescend to his audience. He makes occasional oblique references to his experiences as a prisoner of war—describing, for example, how they reinforce his understanding of Victor Frankl's concept of dignity—but the only chapter centered on his ordeal highlights a furtive moment of kindness from a Vietnamese soldier. Amid much speculation concerning his plans for 2008, McCain has made a declaration of values that liberals can embrace as readily as conservatives. Agent, Flip Brophy.

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    Inspiring Stories Every Young Person Should Know and Every Adult Should Remember
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