The Society of Timid Souls: or, How To Be Brave by Polly MorlandA journey into the modern life of an ancient virtue – bravery – and a quest to understand who might possess it and how
With The Society of Timid Souls, or How To Be Brave, documentary filmmaker Polly Morland sets out to investigate bravery, a quality that she has always felt she lacked. The book takes inspiration from a vividly eccentric, and radical, self-help group for stage-frightened performers in 1940s Manhattan, which coincided with the terrifying height of World War II and was called The Society of Timid Souls. Seventy years later, as anxiety about everything from terrorism to economic meltdown continues, Morland argues that courage has become a virtue in crisis. We are, she says, all Timid Souls now.
Despite a career in which she has filmed in rebel-held Colombian jungles and at the edge of Balkan mass graves, interviewing convicted murderers, drug-traffickers, and terrorists, Morland herself has never felt brave. Often, the very reverse. So she sets out to discover how and why courage is achieved in an age of anxiety and whether it might even be learned. Drawing on her interviews and encounters with soldiers and civilians, bullfighters and big-wave surfers, dissidents fighting for freedom and cancer patients fighting for their lives, Morland examines bravery across the spectrum: from the first childhood act of defiance by Bernard Lafayette, a leader of the civil rights movement who later faced down the KKK in Alabama, or the reflexive will-to-survive of Vjollca Berisha, a Kosovo Albanian who endured a massacre by playing dead among the bodies of her own family, to the small acts of everyday bravery that quietly punctuate our lives, in schoolyards, labor wards, and hospices the world over.
Along the way, Morland draws attention to some of the myths of bravery that have been conjured and perpetuated over time and argues that, often, courage exists as much in the telling as in the doing. At once an exploration of what bravery means and a chronicle of the authors personal journey among those who embody it, The Society of Timid Souls is a profound, approachable meditation on this most valued and mysterious of human qualities. In setting off on the trail of the lionhearted, Polly Morland finds out a great deal about what makes some of us extraordinary, and what of the extraordinary we all share.
The Society of Timid Souls
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Or, How to be Brave
Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. His feet hit the icy sidewalk and the streetcar clangs away with all the acoustic precision that sound has on very cold days. He tugs the brim of his hat low over his eyes.
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This book is a modern investigation of an ancient virtue, inspired by a group for stage-frightened musicians in s Manhattan. Seventy years later, as fear about everything from terrorism to economic meltdown has become part of our daily lives, Polly Morland reconvenes the society, setting out to discover what it means to be brave in an age of anxiety. Her journey—and this book—is full of extraordinary people and surprising ideas. It explores how and why people are brave, from battlefield to hospital ward, circus tightrope to suburban street, disaster zone to political protest, in the process throwing light on some of the myths that surround our favourite virtue. And above all, it asks can we learn to be brave? A fascinating study … compelling … an appealing and original account of one of the greatest human virtues, full of powerful stories.
William Leith. In this book about courage, Polly Morland talks to lots of people who should know what it is. She talks to soldiers, surfers, a matador, firefighters and professional daredevils. She interviews a man who fixes the upper sections of skyscrapers, and is afraid of heights. She meets people who have been diagnosed with terminal diseases.