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Monday, August 06, 2007
Hard Call

Is the name of the new book by Senator John McCain with Mark Salter. I've been reading the book for the last few days, and find it fascinating. I don't think there's any doubt that it will be compared to Profiles in Courage, especially considering the subtitle, "Hard Decisions and the Extraordinary People Who Made Them".

The book is broken down into sections on Awareness, Foresight, Timing, Confidence, Humility and Inspiration, with 3-4 biographies illustrating each trait. The bios are well-chosen for their purpose and the writing is superb, indeed soaring at times.

Much of this is familiar ground for me; the opening segment on Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey, and a later one on Winston Churchill are related to longtime passions of mine, so I did not expect to learn much from them, and yet I did.

And when it came to Marshall Field and King Gillette, it was stuff that I had heard about in general but never read. The book talks not solely about their genius but about how they were the right men for the time in a way that hits on so many things that have interested me.

For example, with Gillette, they point out the parsimony of the generations before he'd come along. I'm old enough to remember a sewing machine being a feature in every house; I'd suspect it's hard to find one these days. I remember when people would return their milk bottles to the store for a nickel, or the Coke bottles for two cents. The idea that something could be disposable and yet cheaper than the alternative was alien to America in the 19th century.

The section on Reagan and the collapse of the Soviet Union is particularly highly recommended. Nobody but Ronaldus Maximus could have predicted that the Evil Empire would fail. It's actually staggering now to think that the last man shot crossing the Berlin Wall died only 18 years ago.

I recommend the book highly, particularly for its inspirational message to youngsters that diligence and observation are the keys to getting ahead in life in today's America just as they were when these people were getting their start.

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