With the assistance of Century (co-author, with Ice-T: Ice, 2011, etc.), Sullenberger (Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, 2009) presents “a contemporary version” of John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage.
Following his heroic landing of U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River, the author met with first officer Jeff Skiles to discuss how to move forward as private individuals faced with unsought public notoriety. They resolved to use their “new platform for the greater good” by serving as advocates and champions for aviation safety and the profession of airline pilots. But first they had to prepare themselves to deal with the new challenge. This book is an outgrowth of that process, as they rose to master new responsibilities and obligations. Sullenberger calls it “a kind of personal quest,” which brought him into contact with the 11 people whose stories form the core of his book. Among others, they include three-time World Series–winning baseball manager Tony La Russa; Admiral Thad Allen, who brought innovative methods and a “fresh eye” to dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; Gene Kranz, the NASA Flight Director who stood up for the astronauts' safety against NASA's bureaucracy, and who brought Apollo 13 and its crew safely home; and Michelle Rhee, who was brought in to overhaul the Washington, D.C., school system and produced remarkable results over three years. Sullenberger is also concerned with how people build loyalty and empower others, as well as how they respond to crises. He highlights the role of Jim Sinegal at Costco, who has defended his employees and customers against stockholders.
Sullenberger has provided a real service in presenting these courageous American leaders and their stories.