Courage is Calling (review)

For some things podcasts are better than books. I’d never read about their subjects but The Rest is History and Hardcore History podcasts are consistently great. 

But books aren’t bad. They’re different. Fiction is great for books. Non-fiction is harder to execute. Ryan Holiday’s book, Courage is Calling, is a different form of non-fiction. Part of the four stoic virtues series, Courage is a collection of vignettes and the mini-stories give the reader many hooks to hang onto. Appearing are philosophers, writers, officers, statesmen, stoics, men, women – they’re all here. It reads fast, which is a good thing! I took away four aspects for courage: 

Act now. Douglas McArthur summarized life’s failures as being too late

Don’t fear the imagined. Hurrying to make a rendezvous through the Texas countryside, Ulysses S. Grant remarked to a companion that there were many wolves about, maybe surrounding them. Pushing through the brush Grant and his companion eventually came upon the wolves. Only two, who scattered. Grand reflected later “there are always more before they are counted.” 

Courage and fear are required conditions. Fighting the Nazis and rallying the French, Charles de Gaulle wrote “The intervention of human will in the chain of events has something irrevocable about it.” The important stuff has weight. And that responsibility has “a moral element.” 

We grow. “The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life, “Joan Didion observed, “is the source from which self-respect springs.” 

Courage is Calling is not a quake book, it’s a wake book. It’s what to read instead of checking your phone first thing in the morning. It’s different non-fiction. It’s more holistic than linear. It’s a mental refresher. It’s a reminder from another version of yourself, a version that encourages courage.