John McCain: 'Why Courage Matters'

Listen: Part 1: McCain on Iraq and Sept. 11

Sen. John McCain

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Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life hide caption

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As a prisoner of war in North Vietnam, John McCain was kept in solitary confinement. The Navy pilot and fellow POWs would secretly communicate with each other by tapping on the walls of the camp known as the Hanoi Hilton. The Republican senator from Arizona, whose new book is called Why Courage Matters: The Way to a Braver Life, recalls the experience in the second part of an interview with NPR's Juan Williams.

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"When someone went to interrogation, one of the strongest motivators to me was that I knew that my comrades were sustaining me with their courage but also that I would go back and I would have to tell them whether I succeeded or failed," McCain says. "And many times we failed. But others were always there to pick us up."

McCain says courage comes about when "our fear is overcome by our conscience and our beliefs and forces us to act."

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