(If you must have politics, please scroll down)
Death Be Not Proud (1949) is one such book.
The story of Johnny Gunther, who died of a cancerous brain tumor — glioblastoma multiforme — at the age of seventeen, illustrates the meaning of the oft-used phrase "dying with dignity." The book, however, goes far beyond that basic theme.
Yes, the reader knows the outcome from the introductory pages: Johnny Gunther, a young man of incredible promise, is going to die. In fact, he dies some four months before his eighteenth birthday.
But what that young man taught and still teaches about the importance of committing one's life to living fully! A powerful multi-leveled message which deserves to be read over and over again.
Johnny Gunther's father (1901-1970), a successful author in other genres, penned other long-ago bestsellers: continental surveys and novels. Instead, he is now remembered today as the author of a short memoir which can be read in one three-hour sitting — the author of a memoir which causes readers of all ages to step back and say, "Could I possibly be as noble and as good as Johnny Gunther?" and "Were I the parent of a child dying of brain cancer, could I possibly be as strong as these parents were?"
If you have never read the memoir Death Be Not Proud, you should do so! My 2013-2014 high-school literature class read this book and urges you to do the same.
The only available photograph of Johnny Gunther (at approximately age seven):