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Learn how to be brave with Polly Morland’s The Society of Timid Souls

An audacious, poignant exploration of one of the greatest human virtues

Learn how to be brave with Polly Morland’s The Society of Timid Souls

The Society of Timid Souls, or, How To Be Brave

Polly Morland
  • Imprint: Crown Publishers
  • On sale: July 9, 2013
  • Price: $26.00
  • Pages: 320
  • ISBN: 9780307889065
Contact: Mary Coyne

Praise for The Society of Timid Souls:

 “The book’s greatest strength is the author’s brisk, witty voice, which conveys the seriousness of her subject in an agreeably light, humanistic tone… her journey is in turns thought-provoking, amusing and heartbreaking.” Kirkus Reviews

“Morland skips lightly where angels fear to tread. Her book has astonishing range…bracing, moving, and uncommon.” The Guardian
“Well worth reading.” —The Spectator

“An appealing and original account of one of the greatest human virtues, full of powerful stories. It leaves you hopeful.” —The Sunday Times 

“It’s all about voice, as Polly Morland demonstrates in her eccentric, hugely likable debut.” —The Times (London)

“Polly Morland has written a beautiful and extremely moving book about the quintessentially human trait of bravery.  A widely recognized concept that almost no one really understands, bravery has long needed a serious exploration like The Society of Timid Souls.  It is gorgeously written, deeply felt, and sharply researched.  This is one of the few books I know that leaves me literally grateful to the writer for doing the work they do.  I loved it.” —Sebastian Junger, author of WAR

With glowing praise from Sebastian Junger, Lionel Shriver, and Amanda Foreman, Polly Morland’s THE SOCIETY OF TIMID SOULS, OR, HOW TO BE BRAVE (Crown; On Sale July 9, 2013) is a sweeping, poignant study of the ancient virtue of bravery.

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, award-winning documentary maker Polly Morland herself has never felt brave—often, the very opposite. In THE SOCIETY OF TIMID SOULS, she sets out on an audacious journey into the modern life of bravery to learn who might possess it and how.

Morland’s initial inspiration came from a vividly eccentric, radical group for stage-frightened performers in 1940s Manhattan called The Society of Timid Souls. Seventy years later, as anxiety about everything from terrorism to economic meltdown persists, Morland argues that courage has become a virtue in crisis.

Drawing on her interviews 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, to 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. Morland investigates how and why courage is achieved in an age of anxiety and whether it might even be learned. 

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 author’s personal journey among those who embody it, THE SOCIETY OF TIMID SOULS is a profound, approachable meditation on this highly valued and most mysterious of human qualities. In setting off on the trail of the lionhearted, Morland finds out a great deal about what makes some of us extraordinary, and what of the extraordinary we all share.

About the Author

POLLY MORLAND is an award-winning British documentary maker who has directed and produced for the BBC, Channel 4, and the Discovery Channel. In 2011, she won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Award. Morland lives in the Welsh borderlands with her husband and three sons.

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