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Choosing Courage

Inspiring True Stories of What It Means to Be a Hero

By Peter Collier

Riveting real-life accounts of heroism from Medal of Honor recipients, including Clinton Romesha (author of Red Platoon: A True Story of American Valor) and exceptional civilians like schoolteacher Jencie Fagan

How does an ordinary person become a hero? It happens in a split second, a moment of focus and clarity, when a choice is made. Here are the gripping accounts of Medal of Honor recipients who demonstrated guts and selflessness on the battlefield and confronted life-threatening danger to make a difference. There are the stories of George Sakato and Vernon Baker—both of whom overcame racial discrimination to enlist in the army during World War II (Sakato was a second-generation Japanese American, Baker an African American) and went on to prove that heroes come in all colors—and Clint Romesha, who led his outnumbered fellow soldiers against a determined enemy to prevent the Taliban from taking over a remote U.S. Army outpost in Afghanistan.

Also included are civilians who have been honored by the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation for outstanding acts of bravery in crisis situations, from a school shooting to the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Adding depth and context are illuminating essays on the combat experience and its aftermath, covering topics such as overcoming fear; a mother mourning the loss of her son; and “surviving hell” as a prisoner of war.

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Meet the Author
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Peter Collier

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Review quotes
“Every story in this remarkable book is inspiring and deeply moving. The heroic accounts of bravery vanquishing fear and service before self should be mandatory reading for every child—and adult—in this country.” 
—Gary Sinise, actor, musician, and founder of the Gary Sinise Foundation

“The stories in this book . . . convey the human side of heroism.”
The Baltimore Sun

“Open to any page of Choosing Courage and prepare to be awed at the ability of ordinary people to do extraordinary things. These tales of heroism take the reader from World War II to Iraq and Afghanistan and to U.S. shores, where even a schoolteacher can face life-and-death situations.”
—The Philadelphia Inquirer

“Collier takes readers on an emotional journey into the trenches, through prisoner of war camps to makeshift hospitals, conveying the bravery that compels certain individuals to rise above their fear to protect and save others. Published in collaboration with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, the book devotes each chapter to a different tale of a medal recipient and is often followed by a page or two of background or historical information. Although the Medal of Honor was created in 1861, the book begins with stories from the battlefields of World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. It includes a story from the attack on the World Trade Center, tales of heroism from Iraq and Afghanistan, Haiti, the Congo, and in the halls of an American middle school. Some of the 25 entries are told in the third person, while others are narrated by the hero in question. Most moving are the tales that are told by parents and children of the honorees. The book concludes with a note about the consequences of war and the history of the Congressional Medal of Honor. VERDICT: Middle grade readers will appreciate the consistent format, short chapters, straightforward language, photos, and background information, and will benefit from the factual material and the underlying lessons of courage.”
School Library Journal

“As he did in his 2003 adult work, Medal of Honor, Collier spotlights recipients of America’s highest military award in this book, published in collaboration with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. Collier broadens the scope of his tributes to include a handful of civilians who have been recognized by the foundation, yet his focus remains on veterans who distinguished themselves in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Two especially relevant profiles to young readers are those of a Nevada middle-school teacher, who persuaded a student to surrender his gun after he opened fire at school, and a North Carolina boy who, after forging his mother’s signature to enlist in WWII at age 13, threw himself on a grenade to save his fellow Marines at Iwo Jima. Similar accounts of self-sacrificing devotion and humility echo throughout these harrowing and, at times, horrific accounts of combat, intensifying their emotional impact. Interspersed b&w photos also help personalize the profiles, while sidebars provide succinct background information on the various wars. An illuminating and worthwhile resource.”
Publishers Weekly

“While this book targets ages 10 and up, I believe it to be a great addition to the library of anyone who loves history.”
About Families
Product Details
Age range
9 - 12
Grade range
4 - 7
Number of pages
Publication date
May 19, 2015