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Lessons in Triumphing over Adversity and the Power of Our Common Humanity

Twenty inspiring profiles of men and women who’ve defied the odds to overcome adversity

The coronavirus COVID-19 has changed our lives forever, confronting us with an adversity like none we have known in our lifetimes.

How do we cope? Where can we find the resilience to overcome the changes forced upon us? What might our future look like?

The answers lie in Overcoming and the lessons we can learn from everyday heroes who found the strength to persevere through life crises that threatened to overwhelm them, just as we feel overwhelmed today. Groundbreaking physician Dr. Augustus White III, no stranger to adversity himself, has fashioned an essential manual on not only surviving in a post-coronavirus world, but even thriving in it, as those in this book have.

• Like Herman Williams, a doctor on the verge of realizing his dream only to see it dashed forever, forcing him to find a new and greater one.
• Or Dr. Ann Hagan Webb, a victim of sexual abuse as a young girl who now counsels other victims, both young and old.
• Or Josh Perry, born with Down syndrome, who didn’t let that stop him from becoming a professional Hollywood actor.
• Or Krystal Cantu, who overcame the devastating loss of an arm in an accident to pursue a career in fitness and physical training.
• Or Mangok Bol, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan who survived and built a new life for himself in the United States.
• Or Heather Marini, who turned a blind eye to stereotypes in becoming the only woman serving as a position coach in Division 1 college football.

These stories and more will inspire you, providing hope that no matter how bleak and dark things seem, the light is always shining somewhere close by.

Overcoming will teach all of us how to find it.

Dr. Augustus White III has been called “the Jackie Robinson of orthopedics.” He was the first African-American medical student at Stanford, the first African-American surgical resident at Yale, the first African-American professor of surgery at Yale, and the first African-American chief of service at a Harvard teaching hospital. He is professor of orthopedics and the Ellen & Melvin Gordon Distinguished Professor of Medical Education at Harvard, as well as a past professor in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology. Dr. White has pioneered the movement in U.S. and Canadian medical schools for culturally competent care and is a leading voice in the medical community’s ongoing efforts to address the significant disparities in health and healthcare suffered by African Americans and other minorities.

"In Overcoming, Dr. Gus White has fashioned a timely and terrific treatment of the human condition and instructive roadmap for negotiating one of the most perilous periods in American history. Relying on a lifetime of groundbreaking experience in medicine, 'the Jackie Robinson of orthopedic surgery,' as he is so rightfully known, offers a prescription of hope for an ailing nation beset by racial and ethnic disharmony and a pandemic that has struck us at our most vulnerable core. An inspiring journey certain to lift spirits and help us all to overcome." 

– Arne Duncan, former Secretary of Education under President Barack Obama

"Overcoming is a book about optimism and courage. We are all bound, the authors tell us, to suffer trauma in our lives: a bad injury, serious emotional distress, natural disasters, physical or sexual abuse, the loss of loved ones. At some point something powerful is going to afflict us. But as vulnerable as we are, we also have the ability to overcome even devastating losses. The writing is plain and direct. It is also evocative. This book will move you and reinforce your will to overcome and even benefit from life's most severe challenges." 

– Louis Sullivan, former Health and Human Services Secretary

"Overcoming is a beautiful and deeply moving book that reminds us of our common humanity and of the reservoir of resilience that resides in all of us. I love the fact that the reader learns about so many strategies to survive and even grow from the many stresses, traumas, and tragedies that we will face at some point in our life, and we learn these strategies through the eyes and actions of everyday heroes. To me, Overcoming is a true gift that inspires the reader to rise up to their best self and join the human family so that we together can confront, overcome, and grow from the challenges that life presents us." 

– Dr. Steven Southwick, bestselling author of "Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life's Greatest Challenges"

"Dr. Augustus White has determined that heroes and inspirational leaders with their stories come in all shapes and sizes. In his book, Overcoming: Lessons in Triumphing over Adversity and the Power of Our Common Humanity, he has taken the stories of twenty individuals and woven them into a compelling book focusing on resilience and the common strain that comes from humankind when we think beyond ourselves and contribute to the goodness that can be found in our daily lives. For me, these stories gave me both a sense of hope and a belief in the future of humankind." 

– Gordon Gee, former president of Ohio State University

"Affirming our 'common humanity,' Dr. Augustus White presents us with inspiring and invaluable stories of resilience at a time when resilience has never mattered more. Triumphing over adversity, he forcefully reminds us, is a team sport. His book offers powerful illustrations of an essential truth: 'No one makes it alone.'"

– Drew Gilpin Faust, former president of Harvard University

"This new book from Dr. Gus White is most timely. Natural and man-made traumas assault us as individuals and communities. The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered our world and added to our sense of dread and loneliness. Into this reality, renowned surgeon Augustus White and two colleagues, Jon Land and David Chanoff, have ventured and extracted from the essence of the trauma experience what is most meaningful and sustaining about how we human beings inter-relate and keep each other strong. This exceptional book tells the stories of how individuals face the challenges of debilitating illness and other life crises, and how these challenges reveal the primary elements of our essential human resilience and ability to overcome the hard challenges we all inevitably face in our lives." 

– Dr. Gregory Fricchione, Associate Chief of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital

"Incredibly well-timed, uniquely powerful, inspirational and uplifting... A stunningly effective achievement in form and function thanks to an assemblage of heroes whose lessons should serve as signposts for us all." 

– NYK Daily