All Commentary
Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Real Heroes: Inspiring True Stories of Courage, Character, and Conviction

A new book from FEE and ISI

Announcing FEE President Lawrence W. Reed’s new book: “Real Heroes: Inspiring True Stories of Courage, Character, and Conviction,” featuring over 40 stories of heroic individuals who have changed the world.

Order today.

This book is published in partnership with the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Inc.

What makes someone a hero?

Is it fame, power, money, creative talent, athletic ability, good looks?

Despite what our culture typically celebrates, none of those things makes a hero.

No, heroism springs from character, the critical element that defines a person. The good news is that character is something every one of us can mold; it is simply the sum of the choices we make as we face new challenges and opportunities.

And here’s even better news: this lively, accessible book gives you real, flesh-and-blood models of character, courage, and conviction—men and women you won’t just admire but also can emulate.

Author Lawrence W. Reed ranges far and wide in Real Heroes—from major historical figures to remarkable people you’ve never heard of; from the distant past to the present; from the United States, to Europe, to Asia; from statesmen to scientists, athletes to inventors, entrepreneurs to theologians, writers to teachers. Reed’s heroes include:

  • The nineteenth-century American educator who was vilified and threatened for daring to teach black girls
  • The unsung British activist who fought for decades to end slavery
  • The courageous Cambodian who alerted the world to Pol Pot’s killing fields
  • The Polish soldier who volunteered to go to the notorious concentration camp Auschwitz to expose Nazi brutality and defend the liberty of his people

Concise and compelling, Real Heroes highlights memorable quotations from each hero and features a bulleted summary of lessons at the end of each profile. 

We desperately need more heroes today. America is a country with a proud history of heroes, but now it seems we’ve forgotten more of them than we’re producing.

It’s time to change that. And Real Heroes is here to help.

“We learn by stories, and this powerful, well-written book gives us forty superb ones. They couldn’t be more timely in an age that is experiencing too much bluster, blather, exhibitionism, and ignorance. Real Heroes will inspire us all to nurture the better angels of our nature.” 
Steve Forbes, chairman and editor in chief of Forbes Media

Real Heroes is a home run from start to finish. Every chapter informs and inspires. A master storyteller, Reed reminds us that heroism is much more than a fleeting impulse or an isolated instance. It springs from personal character, without which a free society is impossible.”
Walter E. Williams, economist, George Mason University

“A comprehensive roll call of the champions of liberty. You’ve heard of some of these extraordinary men and women, you’ll wonder why you haven’t heard of others before, but you’ll learn something in every chapter.”
Daniel Hannan, member of the European Parliament from Britain, author of Inventing Freedom and The New Road to Serfdom

“If you love a good biography, you’ll love Larry Reed’s Real Heroes. Instead of a single biography, you get many great stories of liberty’s heroes, from Cato the Younger to Adam Smith to Ludwig Erhard. A great book from one of liberty’s own heroes.”
Senator Rand Paul

“What a riveting and upbeat book! Real Heroes is hard to put down. I’m still ­taking notes on it to supplement my teaching.” 
Burton W. Folsom Jr., professor of history, Hillsdale College

“A free and flourishing society requires liberty, and liberty requires vigilance and courage. This book will empower the rising generation to stand up and fight for what is right by giving us examples of brave souls who have done so. It’s a treasure trove of heroic stories that encourage and inspire.”
Anne Rathbone Bradley, vice president of economic ­initiatives at the ­Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics

“No matter their time or place, the men and women we meet in this book share a passion for liberty and justice. Reed presents a road map to strong character and a challenge to build a freer society.”
Jim DeMint, Heritage Foundation president and former U.S. senator

“Reed demystifies the concept of what it means to be a hero and brings readers to the edge of their seats with uniquely compelling tales of triumph. This long-overdue book will change the way we see not only heroes but also ­ourselves.”
T. K. Coleman, education director for Praxis

“Integrating the importance of human liberty with moral responsibility and personal character, Reed has penned a compelling outline of the case for freedom through the lens of forty diverse and intriguing portraits.”
Rev. Robert Sirico, president of the Acton Institute

“Cheers to Larry Reed and ISI Books for this fun and fulfilling book of heroes to remember and rediscover.” 
Paul Kengor, professor of political science at Grove City College 

“Rarely does a book come along at precisely the right time. In an age when the word hero is too often confused with celebrity, Reed gives us a much-needed corrective, told in a lively style so that the stories jump from the pages to inspire us.”
Roger Ream, president of the Fund for American Studies

“In a world in which crassness and hedonism seem to be the norm, it is refreshing to read the tales of noble characters. This is an inspiring book for anyone who aspires to live a life of meaning and purpose. This book will encourage your inner hero to come forth and lead you to your proper role in the world.”
Magatte Wade, award-winning entrepreneur, founder of Tiossan

Real Heroes is a crucial reminder of the key values needed in greater supply if we’re to preserve the freedom and prosperity we’ve so fortunately been given.”
Peter Goettler, president of the Cato Institute

“I love Larry’s emphasis on character. It’s the biggest issue of our time for all walks of life, from business to media to politics. Nobody explains its importance through historical examples better than he does.”
Donald G. Smith, investor, New York City

“This book could not come at a better time. It is in the most trying of times that heroes can save us. They teach us about good and evil, give us hope, and inspire us to become our best selves. An enjoyable read, Real Heroes is packed with fascinating stories, inspirational quotes, and takeaway lessons.”
Romina Boccia, Heritage Foundation

“Reed brings to life dozens of stories where high character animates courage and triumph. I cannot recommend it highly enough.”
Kent Lassman, president and CEO of the Competitive Enterprise Institute

Real Heroes is an exciting and inspiring study of people who dared to challenge the consensus of their time and put their necks on the line for what they believed in. A timely and important book, especially for young people.”
Nathan Bond, cofounder and CEO of Rifle Paper Co.

“Reed’s powerful book motivates the reader to go out into the world and stand strong for the ideas of liberty. The stories here are highly educational, fun to read, and inspiring.”
Wolf von Laer, CEO of Students for Liberty

Real Heroes illustrates the true peacemakers of the world. Reed tells the ­stories of individuals who dedicated their lives to the fight for liberty and prosperity. You’ll be motivated with every turn of the page.”
Cliff Maloney Jr., executive director of Young Americans for Liberty

  • Lawrence W. Reed is FEE's President Emeritus, having previously served for nearly 11 years as FEE’s president (2008-2019). He is also FEE's Humphreys Family Senior Fellow and Ron Manners Global Ambassador for Liberty. His Facebook page is here and his personal website is