Courage: One Woman's Dream and the Mighty Effort to Conquer Multiple Sclerosis a book review by John M. Williams
I have many American heroines in my life. Dolly Madison, Abigail Adams, Annie Oakley, Clara Barton, Helen Hayes, Amelia Erheart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson, Hillary Clinton and Sylvia Lawrey are women for whom I have great admiration. Readers of this book review are asking, Who is Sylvia Lawrey? You will discover who Sylvia Lawrey is by reading Courage written by Richard Trubo.
Lawrey was the driving whip behind the creation of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and the "mighty effort to end the devastating effects of multiple sclerosis." Courage tells the wonderful story of her Herculean efforts to find a cure for her brother Bernard's multiple sclerosis. The author tells a compelling story of the love Sylvia had for her brother and the sacrifices she made for him. Her efforts to find a cure for her brother's MS may have contibuted to her two divorces.
It was Lawrey's courage, vision and guts that helped create the National Institute for Neurological Diseases and Blindness. She was relentless in her puusuit to secure corporate leadership and the best medical researchers to build the national organization required to cure MS. Her dedication inspired tens of thousands of volunteers to work as tirelessly as she did. In the process she built the world's best information network on MS and changed the world's negative view to a positive one on MS. Courage repeatedly stresses that educating the world on MS was the key to reversing the negative attitudes on MS. And educating the world she did.
Courage chronicles the triumphs of a woman who fought sexism and showed she could build and command an army as good as the best generals. It paints an awesome picture of a charming woman as comfortable in the presence of the mighty and political powerful as she was in the presence of ordinary people. Frank Sinatra, John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan and Dr. Jonas Salk were men who honored her. Her goal of finding a cure for MS will some day be realized, I pray soon. When the cure is found, a memorial should be built in her honor.
Courage is a book every woman should read because Sylvia Lawry is a courageous role model for every woman who wants to make a positive difference. She broke ground in the same way Hillary Clinton did when she ran for president this year. I wonder if Senator Clinton was inspired by Sylvia Lawry. Every school, every woman's organization and every library should have a copy of Courage.
I wish the writing in Courage was better. The dialogue is sparse, and I think in the hands of an experienced biographer, such as David McCullough, the reader would have been provided more dramatic details into Sylvia's struggles to build the NMSS and to accomplish its mission. I would like to know more about her personal lifeand her relationships with her husbands and children. While her successes were many and difficult, Richard Trubo makes them seem too easy.