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My Heroes: Extraordinary Courage, Exceptional People

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The 'World's greatest living explorer' as described in the Guinness Book of Records, writes about the people who have inspired him, 'from a London policeman hacked to death by a local mob to the bravest, boldest, parlour maid in the world'. Ranulph, or Ran as he likes to be called, gives lectures all over the world and the question he is asked more often than not is 'who ar The 'World's greatest living explorer' as described in the Guinness Book of Records, writes about the people who have inspired him, 'from a London policeman hacked to death by a local mob to the bravest, boldest, parlour maid in the world'. Ranulph, or Ran as he likes to be called, gives lectures all over the world and the question he is asked more often than not is 'who are your heroes?' In this book he describes the extraordinary and often horrific events that led to twelve ordinary people becoming his personal heroes. They include the man who dared all to execute Hitler, the community who suffered the agonies of the Black Death to save others, the victor of the Murder Wall, the Genocide Protector and the journalist who defied Mugabe's Terror Police. These twelve highly descriptive chapters will make you both ashamed of human cruelty and proud of human courage.


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The 'World's greatest living explorer' as described in the Guinness Book of Records, writes about the people who have inspired him, 'from a London policeman hacked to death by a local mob to the bravest, boldest, parlour maid in the world'. Ranulph, or Ran as he likes to be called, gives lectures all over the world and the question he is asked more often than not is 'who ar The 'World's greatest living explorer' as described in the Guinness Book of Records, writes about the people who have inspired him, 'from a London policeman hacked to death by a local mob to the bravest, boldest, parlour maid in the world'. Ranulph, or Ran as he likes to be called, gives lectures all over the world and the question he is asked more often than not is 'who are your heroes?' In this book he describes the extraordinary and often horrific events that led to twelve ordinary people becoming his personal heroes. They include the man who dared all to execute Hitler, the community who suffered the agonies of the Black Death to save others, the victor of the Murder Wall, the Genocide Protector and the journalist who defied Mugabe's Terror Police. These twelve highly descriptive chapters will make you both ashamed of human cruelty and proud of human courage.

30 review for My Heroes: Extraordinary Courage, Exceptional People

  1. 5 out of 5

    Daren

    Ranulph Fiennes was asked by his publishers to write a book about his heroes, in a reflection over his life. I suspect they expected him to pick those who inspired some of his mad achievements, likely expecting military heroes - Victoria Cross winners for example, but Fiennes explains that many of the actions of bravery in war are not necessarily the acts of heroes, but men in extraordinary circumstances who are effected by different drivers - fear being one of them - particularly fear of being Ranulph Fiennes was asked by his publishers to write a book about his heroes, in a reflection over his life. I suspect they expected him to pick those who inspired some of his mad achievements, likely expecting military heroes - Victoria Cross winners for example, but Fiennes explains that many of the actions of bravery in war are not necessarily the acts of heroes, but men in extraordinary circumstances who are effected by different drivers - fear being one of them - particularly fear of being seen as a coward. Anyway, Fiennes' list of heroes is quite eclectic, and not always very specific. The eleven heroes he writes about are: - Marcus Lattrell - a US Navy Seal and sole survivor of his squad who were dropped into Afghanistan on a mission in 2005. - Dick Coombes - a policeman at Broadwater Farm riots in England 1985. - Paul Rusesabagina - a Hotel manager caught up in the genocide in Rwanda 1994 (the movie Hotel - Rwanda was based on his story). - Gladys Aylward - a Christian missionary in China 1930's who was caught up in the Japanese invasion. - Klaus von Stauffenberg - for his 'Operation Valkyrie' attempt to kill Hitler in 1944. - A whole bunch of people who attempted to climb the north face of the Eiger in the Swiss Alps. - A lot of families and individuals in Cambodia who suffered under the Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge from 1975 - 1978. - The Derbyshire village of Eyam facing the Black Death 1665-1666. - Zimbabwean journalist Peter Godwin who spent time in Zimbabwe at great risk to witness the genocide of President Mugabe's regime, and then raising the profile from the outside. (Peter Godwins book Fear is the start of his story). - Various soldiers in the Crimean War 1850's. - Douglas Mawson in Antarctica in 1912. Most of the stories were well told, and Fiennes explains what impressed him about these people. Some left me a bit unclear on why he chose them over other examples. With others, it may well be that I wasn't concentrating at the right moment - but the Dick Coombes story and the Crimean War felt muddled. I guess the principle of what makes people heroes to you is interesting in general. However, it worked well as a series of short reads. 3 stars.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sarah O'Toole

    This was an exciting and informative read, but not particularly well-written. The chapters in which he tells a story rather than discusses an overall situation tend to flow better. There is no real sense of conclusion either to each story or to the book as a whole. The penultimate quotation, regarding adrenalin, optimism and action, is fascinating, but contains ideas which are not mentioned elsewhere at all and which if explored might have given greater focus to the writing. He definitely writes This was an exciting and informative read, but not particularly well-written. The chapters in which he tells a story rather than discusses an overall situation tend to flow better. There is no real sense of conclusion either to each story or to the book as a whole. The penultimate quotation, regarding adrenalin, optimism and action, is fascinating, but contains ideas which are not mentioned elsewhere at all and which if explored might have given greater focus to the writing. He definitely writes better about battle and exploring and you can really get a sense of his passion for the subject matter, probably because these are journeys he himself has undertaken and he has a sense of how to tell them. But it's an inspiring read, and also a shocking portrait of man's in humanity to man. Unfortunately, you do get the sense someone else asked him to write it and he says himself he had to think about which people could qualify as heroes which kind of belies the title of the book. They were selected from the head rather than the heart. However, I'd be really interested in reading more about some of the people he writes about.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Radiah

    I had mixed feelings reading this book. At times, I felt a sense of amazement which I have not experienced in a long time. At other times, I felt a sense of pride in my fellow man but mostly, what I felt was a sense of shame to be related to a species capable of actions that made me cringe just reading about them, much less experience them. In this book, Sir Fiennes describes his heroes, and they are fascinating. He recaps stories that have been retold before in greater detail of some heroes tha I had mixed feelings reading this book. At times, I felt a sense of amazement which I have not experienced in a long time. At other times, I felt a sense of pride in my fellow man but mostly, what I felt was a sense of shame to be related to a species capable of actions that made me cringe just reading about them, much less experience them. In this book, Sir Fiennes describes his heroes, and they are fascinating. He recaps stories that have been retold before in greater detail of some heroes that history should never forget. He also tells stories of men and women most of us would not have heard of, and those stories prompted me to learn more about them. Most of all through the book, what I contemplated was whether I would have the courage to act in such a capacity as these men and women. They acted, often against staggering odds. Overall, I found it an enjoyable, if slightly sad, read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Fantastic book. Fascinating. And horrifying. Something for everyone Iā€™d say.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jolanda

    Ranulph takes you through a selection of "heroes" that he has chosen. All are in the modern era and not all are soldiers. Many of the stories are stomach churning documenting in detail man's in-humanity. In this book the term hero indicates extraordinary courage. Not everyone's cup of tea. Ranulph takes you through a selection of "heroes" that he has chosen. All are in the modern era and not all are soldiers. Many of the stories are stomach churning documenting in detail man's in-humanity. In this book the term hero indicates extraordinary courage. Not everyone's cup of tea.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    I found it a bit hard to relate to this book but nonetheless, an easy and comfortable read.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Simon Limpus

    Some good stories in the book. Mawsons journey and the eiger climb has to be the most moving and interesting in terms of will of character.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    On reading reviews I thought would not enjoy this, so kept putting off In fact I thought informative about number of conflicts knew little about Just got to 4 but I thought nice read

  9. 4 out of 5

    Neville Ridley-smith

    Who are your heroes? This is a curious book. It's apparent from the introduction that the title is a misnomer. And yet it's not. You think it's going to be about who Ranulph's heroes are, in the sense of who inspired him to do all the things he's done. But it's not that at all. So what is it? When asked to write the book, he decided to try and figure out who his heroes actually could be. And then he writes about those. So, if you were to ask him that question now, he could give you an answer. It' Who are your heroes? This is a curious book. It's apparent from the introduction that the title is a misnomer. And yet it's not. You think it's going to be about who Ranulph's heroes are, in the sense of who inspired him to do all the things he's done. But it's not that at all. So what is it? When asked to write the book, he decided to try and figure out who his heroes actually could be. And then he writes about those. So, if you were to ask him that question now, he could give you an answer. It's an interesting list and for the most part they're all interesting stories. In some cases, it's not so much a single person but a certain group or type of heroism that he tells us about. Here's the list: US Navy Seals in Afghanistan 2005 Police at Broadwater Farm in England 1985 Hotel manager in Rwanda 1994 Christian missionary in China Gladys Aylward 1930's onward Klaus von Stauffenberg attempt to kill Hitler (operation Valkyrie) 1944 Attempts by various people to climb the north face of the Eiger 1930's Families suffering under the Khmer Rouge (Pol Pot) 1970's Derbyshire village of Eyam 1665-1666 Peter Godwin getting story out about President Mugabe's regime 2000's and ongoing Soldiers in the Crimean war 1850's Douglas Mawson in Antarctica 1912 I wasn't sure whether to give this 3 or 4 stars. In some places the writing is a bit confusing or dull. The chapter about the police is a bit of a mess. And there really should have been some sort of conclusion or afterword. There's a final page which has some odd quotes and it's not clear if it's meant to sum up the book or just the last story. Overall though, I learnt quite a lot reading this book and that's always a good thing. I'm not sure the stories have inspired me but I'm glad to have read them. I've been eager to tell others about them which is a good sign. Well worth a read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    John Westworth

    I was really disappointed with this book. By his own definition of hero, he was contradictory throughout. For example, in chapter 1 alone he calls out the Navy Seals bravery when surely the one who should have been singled out was the village elder. Chapter 10 called out the bravery of soldiers. Chapter 11 starts with a quote that contradicts this. The book is riddled with inconsistencies like this, and is a bit of a gore fest at times. Not my type of book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Julian Walker

    A quite stunningly inspirational series of stories about ordinary people who have performed heroic feats ā€“ because it is the right thing to do. Rarely do you come across such altruistic behaviour and reading about a whole collection of such people in one volume is a humbling experience and one which everyone ā€“ whatever their normal reading preference ā€“ should buy. An incredible, moving and, in the true sense of the word, awesome selection of heroism.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Carl Wells

    Terrible book picked up at the airport on a whim. Fiennes writing is shockingly bad; his tone is patronizing, simplistic, dull, and meandering. In his preface he even admits that he didn't think about his heroes until the publisher asked him to write this book. The best reason to not read this book is that every story he retells has been told really well elsewhere. Terrible book picked up at the airport on a whim. Fiennes writing is shockingly bad; his tone is patronizing, simplistic, dull, and meandering. In his preface he even admits that he didn't think about his heroes until the publisher asked him to write this book. The best reason to not read this book is that every story he retells has been told really well elsewhere.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ken

    Not what expected from Ranulph it was interesting and in places uncomfortably graphic which has helped emphasise important scenes. Although a powerful book I was not as gripped as with some of his previous books. I would still recommend this book I learned a great more detail about world events I knew so little about previously m

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jim Gilmour

    A book I visited off and on at a time when I was busy and couldn't get a good run at it. I find I enjoy biography so I liked the idea of being able to select the different stories at at random almost, of which were each remarkable in their own right. A book I visited off and on at a time when I was busy and couldn't get a good run at it. I find I enjoy biography so I liked the idea of being able to select the different stories at at random almost, of which were each remarkable in their own right.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    Decent book, easy read. Interesting how Ranulph chose some of the lesser known heroes of the world. Those that rarely receive recognition but fought against impossible odds none the less.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sharonh

    Eleven short stories of real-life heroes. Good read!!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    An interesting book although I feel Ranulph Feinnes went over the top with his graphic descriptions of Cambodia and Ruanda. At times it was almost gratuitous. Recommended? Not really.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sean

    Some of the stories are indeed inspiring whereas others seemed a little rushed in the storytelling. Overall a good read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Olwen

    Wow. Not what I expected (a collection of stories about famous individuals). This collection is actually about ordinary people doing extraordinary deeds.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lara Rickerby

  21. 5 out of 5

    Manatees

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tiaan Nel

  23. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jess

  25. 5 out of 5

    ms. c0nde

  26. 5 out of 5

    Scott Nelson

  27. 5 out of 5

    William P Axtell

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alice McPherson

  29. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  30. 5 out of 5

    Karen

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