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Book Review: Portraits of Courage

I’m reviewing a book I’ve owned for nearly two years;  but just couldn’t figure out how to write a review worthy of the book or the folks featured in the book.  This is a deeply personal subject for me as I know someone in the book and was blown away when I found him inside it.  I had to read the book, twice.  The author of the book also blows me away, as I’ve never read a deeply rich and poignant book like this that was personally done by an author of his status.  After reading the book then finding out more about it through a bit of research, I was right…it was used as a way to thank the folks featured in the book and possibly as a way of atonement for the author.  Bear in mind that the men and women featured in the book and on the actual portraits laid down real blood, sweat and tears…and they’re featured in this book based on injuries attained in combat while in the line of duty.

Portraits in Courage by the Honorable Mr. George W. Bush is 191 pages long and published by Crown Publishers copyright 2017.  The book contains forwards by the former First Lady Mrs. Laura Bush and another by General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  After the forwards, there is a well written explanation of the Honorable Mr. George Bush’s painting mission and why he’s chosen to paint the portraits featured in this book, before diving into the 98 portraits and biographies featured in the book.  For the next approx 165 pages the reader is treated to rich paintings and biographies of men and women from all four US Armed Forces, who were severely wounded  in body or spirit in Iraq or Afghanistan while serving in the line of duty.  This serves as a vivid reminder of the dearth of injuries that have come out of those two wars, leaving a trail of broken bodies and spirits to those who made it home and their families to deal with.  More than just a book with 98 portraits of broken bodies; this is truly a book that highlights how these folks were  bent (but not broken), but they’ve chosen to overcome physical or mental injuries so they can live on with full lives again.  Their lives will not be the same as before (they were injured) but life can go on with the changes that have come for each of these folks.  The person that I knew who is featured in this book was severely injured in Iraq and is lucky to have lived.  However, he picked his life back up and moved forward, making the best out of a situation that could have destroyed him and his family.  Seriously, from major injuries in Iraq to starting his own motivational speaking company to an actual TED Talk….that’s pretty motivating to me!  Remember, he’s just ONE of the veterans featured in this book.  Ever want to read a great book or have a great speaker for your office? think about getting in touch with Justin.  His link is provided.  After getting through the detailed portraits, you’ll find the index of the 98 folks of ALL ranks featured in the book and a last poignant page with a thank you from the George Bush Institute to veterans.  The 98 veterans featured are part of many “who gave some”  in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  While reading this book twice, I could not help but be overcome by the fact that these paintings were done by a former President of the United States; who was responsible for ordering most of these people into combat and the injuries they survived.  Whether specified or not, this was a small way to say thanks for the injuries suffered.

Buying this book will set you back by $35 dollars but you’ll have an art worthy book for life.  If you choose to follow the link that I’ve provided and purchase it from Amazon, a (very) small portion of the purchase will come back to LF2SF, which is always appreciated.  Despite the fact I had to face the injuries each of these folks suffered, it served as rich reminder of the price of freedom.  I recommend everyone find something to remind them as we go into Presidents Day Weekend.

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