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21st Century Courage (Hardback)

Stirring Stories of Modern British Heroes

Military > Post-WWII Warfare P&S History > British History

By Mark Felton
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 208
ISBN: 9781848840737
Published: 29th November 2010



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The book examines examples of outstanding courage exhibited by people living in modern Britain. These include British servicemen and servicewomen serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, police officers, and ordinary civilians in Britain and around the world. All of the cases cited have been awarded gallantry medals by the British government since 2000.

The purpose of the book is to inspire modern British people. In the past, the heroes of Empire were well-known and respected, but since the Second World War people have tended to associate heroism with celebrity instead. We hear footballers and actors described as ‘heroes’, and this demeans the word, and the real heroes of modern British society. The generations that fought the First and Second World Wars have often been held up as the greatest generations of British people. This book shows Britons that the kind of grit, determination, courage and willingness to ‘have a go’ exhibited by previous generations are as alive now as they ever were, and heroes can come from all walks of life and all ethnic groups in modern Britain.

Mark Felton is a lecturer at Shanghai University. His previous titles with Pen and Sword include The Real Tenko, Slaughter At Sea, The Coolie Generals, Final Betrayal, Japan’s Gestapo and Yanagi.

21st Century Courage: Stirring Stories of Modern British Heroes by Mark Felton

Review by Maj Mike Peters, AAC

HEROISM is an ever-popular theme in the publishing world. There are an abundance of books recounting tales of bravery during both of the World Wars, but this title is slightly different in that it focuses on modern-day feats. A collection of well-written chapters highlights the bravery of both military and civilian medal winners. The author sets out to show that the firefighters, police officers, civilians and Service personnel of today are the equal of their forbearers. He has succeeded in producing an inspiring tribute to the courage of 21st century citizens.

Soldier magazine

Most of us going about our daily lives little realize how many people caught in desperate situations put their lives on the line with supreme acts of bravery. Indeed anyone can find himself or herself in such a situation at any time and find courage they never knew existed. This book not only highlights people in military and rescue services who have received honours for bravery there is also an unassuming 84-year-old pensioner caught up in a smash and grab raid in Richmond, London. There is also Private Luke Cole, a boy fresh out of school; a Territorial Army soldier awarded the Military Cross for his exceptional heroism in Afghanistan. Where do these people find such courage? This definitely is a book filled with heroes and their stories of selfless acts of heroism, sadly some are posthumous. Many of these accounts you will have seen reported on television over the years and will be interested to read the in depth story of each act of bravery. Each of the medals given is to be treasured, as they are a testament to the selfless acts of bravery and in the case of the Victoria Cross the ultimate sacrifice. One such man was Corporal Bryan Budd who for his incredible heroism was posthumously awarded the medal after single-handedly charging the enemy and saving his section from annihilation in Afghanistan. Since 1856 the VC has been the pre-eminent award for British and Commonwealth bravery with only sixteen awarded since the Second World War. The author Dr. Mark Felton has once again produced a volume extolling the bravery of our valiant heroes.

Susan (Customer Review)

Mark Felton distorts what it means to be a hero in the 21st century in his book 21st Century courage. His book takes an interesting and refreshing look into what it means to be a hero in our day and age. The people considered as hero's in today's society tend to be celebrities and footballers, not exactly people who have displayed outstanding courage and bravery . Felton offers an inspirational insight into what a hero actually is , and i found that many people that are worthy enough to be considered heros are actually ordinary citizens fife-fighters , nurses and police officers etc , Felton explores how the title hero has been exploited by actors and celebrities who donate extortionate amounts of money to charity and are all of a sudden declared as a hero . The distinction between what makes a real hero and a rich celebrity has definitely become blurred and Felton's new book is an attempt to clear up the distinction by showing the qualities of determination , courage, sacrifice and willingness that define a true hero . A combination of tales of outstanding courage and undeniable bravery , each one as compelling as the next all comming from a variety of different backgrounds and experiences of life it is certainly clear why each of these deserve the gallantry medals they have been awarded. The book appeals to almost anyone and demands a wide readership as our generation, and generations to come have been deceived into believing what a 'hero' isn't . Mark Felton illustrates the true definition of what it means to be a hero in modern society.

Paul (Customer Review)

"21st Century Courage:Stirring Stories of Modern British Heroes" is, as its title suggests, the story of acts of bravery and heroism committed not during one of history's great wars or in the dim and distant past when, allegedly, the British, as a people, were braver, more courageous, more willing to sacrifice for others or the common good. Instead the acts described in this book all hail from this century. Its author, Dr Mark Felton, is an historian, currently living and working in China, who is the author of several other works about war, especially World War II.

The stories detailed in the book tell of ordinary people caught up in extreme circumstances such as the old lady who chased after, and caught up with, some teenage thieves who had stolen her handbag to the postal investigator who tackled the crooked postman who had just killed one of his colleagues and badly wounded another. It also describes heroism from modern war including Private Johnson Beharry, awarded the Victoria Cross for saving the lives of his mates in Iraq, without any thought for his own. The book also tells of police officers, firefighters and plain ordinary folk who have shown great courage in the service of others for no reward. A book, then, that shows us that there is much to be proud of in modern Britain and in the British people.

Jayne (customer review)

The book examines examples of outstanding courage exhibited by Britons today. All of the cases cited have been awarded gallantry medals by the British governments since 2000.

Reconnaissance Report

An inspirational book which provides up-to-date accounts of British courageousness, warms the heart of its readers with its cheeriness. Featuring many men and women involved in the three Armed Services, there are often also tales of civilians and bystanders doing what they can in their attempts to be helpful and are successful in their doings. In some of these accounts, bystanders have failed to help and it is astonishing, even in the most simplistic and commonplace circumstances, where we believe we would do our part to help. The selfless courage noted in this book is truly heroic and an inspiration to anyone who reads it. The determination of some of these heroes is outstanding and they have really earned their title of a 'hero'. Heroism is commonly misused to describe celebrities who have not earned their title the way real heroes have. This book shows what it is to be a real hero: grit, determination, sacrifices and courage. Including people from all ages and all ethnic groups in modern day Britain, these accounts show that anyone can be a hero in any situation.

Brian R (Customer Review)

This book informs us of the heroes of modern society, the men and women of our armed services, whose courage and determination is an inspiration to us all. But this book isn't just informing us about the individuals in the armed services, it also tells the stories of police officers, firemen and even ordinary civilians who have stepped up and done something courageous. Ordinary civilians like William Grove, who in 2008 stopped two robbers who committed a daring smash and grab robbery on a jewelry shop window in Richmond, London. What was most interesting about this story was that William Grove was eighty four years old and had wrenched the balaclava of one of the robbers head, shouting as he ran away 'I've got your DNA.' His act caused a question to be asked in the newspapers, why was it only one frail elderly man who decided to take action against these robbers when people passing by had seen this crime been committed and had done nothing to stop it? This tale is just one of the stories of civilians doing something courageous, a tale of a member of the armed services is that of Sergeant Stephen McConnell, who one day in 2008 was due to ship off home the next day when his platoon was attacked by Taliban insurgents. He charged heroically at the Taliban insurgents with only one thing on his mind, nothing was going to stop him from going home the next day. These are just two stories that make this remarkable book so widely appealing and such an insightful view to the heroes in the armed services as well as the unlikely heroes who walk among us every day.

Sue (customer review)

About Mark Felton

Mark Felton teaches at Fudan University, Shanghai. He has written an impressive number of successful works for Pen and Sword Books on the Second World War such as The Real Tenko, The Final Betrayal and The Last Nazis.

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