WE ARE NOT AFRAID: Strength and Courage for Our Nation from the Town of "October Sky"

Homer H. Hickam, Author . Health Communications $12.95 (264p) ISBN 978-0-7573-0012-7

Hickam's latest book is little different from the other feel-good stories that emerged nationwide after the September 11 attacks. What sets his stories apart is where they all take place: the mining town of Coalwood, W.Va., the setting for his bestselling memoirs Sky of Stone and October Sky. In this inspirational guide to overcoming fear, Hickam shares anecdotes from his life, mainly having to do with the values he learned in the small, humble town of Coalwood. Each chapter explains one of the "Coalwood Attitudes" ("we are proud of who we are"; "we stand up for what we believe"; "we keep our families together"; and "we trust in God but rely on ourselves"); Hickam then finishes by delivering the kicker (or "The Coalwood Assumption," as he calls it): "we are not afraid." Although it would be easy to dismiss his yarns and advice as hokey or cutesy, Hickam's retelling of a wholesome upbringing in Coalwood is quite touching and heartening, providing assistance for the uncertainty many Americans have dealt with recently and will continue to face in the months ahead. "In today's world, fear seems to be everywhere," he writes. "If you want to stop being afraid... this book can help by teaching you a philosophy of life that will fill your heart and soul with a sense of well-being and confidence." Reading about how Hickam handled bullies in the fifth grade or how he didn't let fear overcome him while fighting in Vietnam may not change what happened last September, but it will give readers the gumption to persevere when the going gets rough. (Feb.)

Forecast: It's obvious HCI is not afraid of betting on this book: they're planning a $100,000 ad campaign, a 20-city TV and radio satellite tour and appearances on morning news and daytime talk shows. The 400,000-copy first printing ensures they'll be ready for the run.

Reviewed on: 01/28/2002
Release date: 02/01/2002
Genre: Nonfiction
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