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Book Reviews

"Wanted: Someone to look up to" The Christian Science Monitor July 17, 2002
"Review of:'A Call to Heroism: Renewing America's Vision of Greatness"" The Education Gadfly Volume 2, Number 32. August 22, 2002
"Heroes for Our Age
How Heroes Can Elevate Students' Lives"
American Educator Winter 2002
"Miliary Heroism Denied" Veterans of Foriegn Wars Magazine January 2003

A Call to Heroism Renewing America's Vision of Greatness
By Peter H. Gibbon
Foreword by Peter J. Gomes
Christian Science Monitor—Best Books 2002


Now is a time of rejuvenated interest in heroes in America. In the past months we have come to a new appreciation of the heroes of our past—and a greater recognition of the heroic acts of those we have lost. But what are we to look for in heroes who walk among us today? And what are we to expect of our heroes as we prepare for the trials of an uncertain future?

In A Call to Heroism, Peter H. Gibbon argues that heroic ideals are fundamental to the enterprise of American liberty and to the very fabric of our nation's culture. In tracing the evolution of our collective vision of greatness from the age of our founders to today's celebrity-obsessed media age, he concludes that although our reverence for these ideals may have eroded along the way, we now have a unique opportunity to forge a new understanding of what it means to be a hero, one that will fortify the next generation of American leaders as we engage the challenges that lie ahead.

Gibbon believes that our multicultural society of dreamers and achievers can be brought together through cherishing the exemplary individuals of our history—men and women who have sacrificed for causes greater than themselves. These include not only traditional civic heroes—statesmen and warriors like George Washington—but also heroes of ideas and conscience: scientists and educators like Thomas Edison and Horace Mann, and religious leaders and civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr. and Lucretia Mott.

As he surveys the lives, struggles, and accomplishments of these and other great individuals, he also contemplates the meanings of seven monuments and artworks dedicated to heroes, including the Hall of Fame for Great Americans, Jean-Antoine Houdon's bust of Benjamin Franklin, and Mount Rushmore, to examine what these memorials say about the America of their time—and what they meanfor us today.

Full of insight and inspiration, A Call to Heroism is a provocative look at a timeless subject that has never been more important.


"The heroes of today have different faces, and the word itself has a more precise meaning for all of us. Dr. Peter Gibbon's book could not be more timely as we look around to identify those in our lives who are making up a new generation of heroes. It is my hope that Dr. Gibbon's stirring and thought provoking book will lead his readers to explore the wonders of heroism and the many different ways that we may be inspired or educated by individuals who have left us with valuable personal legacies."—George E. Pataki, Governor of New York

"This book is a delightful Grand Tour, taking us from war to sports to great literature. You will enjoy it."—Jay Mathews, Education reporter for The Washington Post

"Fascinating and inspiring. . . . Gibbon's book emphasizes the importance of guiding young people to more realistic definitions of hero. . . . Heroes, Gibbon says, 'instruct us in greatnes ... [and] remind us of our better selves.' Those reminders are a gift. So is Gibbon's book. By encouraging a reexamination of the qualities 21st-century Americans emphasize, he quietly shows the rewards of recognizing individuals who stand for our higher self."—Marilyn Gardner, The Christian Science Monitor

"Engaging and provocative. Peter Gibbon's book should be lively fare for classrooms and board rooms throughout the country."—Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., historian and author of A Life in the 20th Century

"[A] compelling book that tells of an important and civic moral and psychological matter with great clarity and thoughtfulness."—Robert Coles, author of Lives of Moral Leadership

"This fine book is the perfect antidote to the recent tendency to dwell on the failings of exemplary men and women."—Mary Ann Glendon, author of A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

"With the nation yearning powerfully for inspiration and leadership, A Call to Heroism could hardly be more timely."—Michael Medved, Film Critic and Nationally Syndicated Radio Host

"Gibbon [reminds] us that real heroes are not celebrities but those whose lives are devoted to the highest ideals of society."—Edward O. Wilson, University Research Professor at Harvard

"Gibbon shows . . . we can rise simultaneously to the greatness of which we are capable and the humility that befits us."—Edwin Delattre, Professor of Philosophy and Education, Boston University

"[A] map for parents, teachers and the young, themselves, to rediscover personal greatness . . . its potential in each of us."—Kevin Ryan, Founder and Emeritus Director of the Boston University Center for the Advancement of Ethics and Character

"Peter Gibbon reminds us why we need heroes. . . . They lift our sights and inspire us to be and do better."—Art Carey, columnist, The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Very thought-provoking. . . . A concise history of the hero in America and a realistic formula for determining who deserves the accolade. . . . A worthy endeavor.”—Mark F. Lewis, The Tampa Tribune

“Offers a series of insights on the traits of a hero, their place in culture, and individuals who attained this status. . . . Conveys Gibbon’s strong sense of civic duty and earnest desire for a return to values he sees as absent from the country’s collective psyche. His notions are admirable.”—Stephen Millin, Rocky Mountain News

“Rich with insight. . . . [Gibbon’s] ultimate focus is education: how to teach youth to respect heroes.”—Tom O’Brien, America

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Last Updated 05/13/2008