This I Believe The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women

This I Believe

Jay Allison and Dan Gediman, eds.

Holt Paperbacks



Trade Paperback

320 Pages



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Based on the National Public Radio series of the same name, This I Believe features eighty essayists—from the famous to the unknown—completing the thought that begins the book's title. Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own personal beliefs but also the extent to which they share them with others. Featuring a well-known list of contributors—including Isabel Allende, Colin Powell, Gloria Steinem, William F. Buckley Jr., Penn Jillette, Bill Gates, and John Updike—the collection also contains essays by a Brooklyn lawyer; a part-time hospital clerk from Rehoboth, Massachusetts; a woman who sells Yellow Pages advertising in Fort Worth, Texas; and a man who serves on the state of Rhode Island’s parole board. The result is a trip inside the minds and hearts of a diverse group of people whose beliefs—and the incredibly varied ways in which they choose to express them—reveal the American spirit at its best.

This I Believe is also available on CD as an audiobook, in both abridged and unabridged editions.  Each essay is read by its author.  Please email for more information.


Praise for This I Believe

"To hold this range of beliefs in the palm of your hand is as fine, as grounding, as it was hearing them first on the radio. Heartfelt, deeply cherished beliefs, doctrines for living (yet none of them doctrinaire). Ideas and ideals that nourish. You can see it in their faces, in the photos in this book. And read it in their words. I'm so proud that NPR helped carry this Edward R. Murrow tradition into a new century. And so glad to have it in print, to encounter again and again."—Susan Stamberg, special correspondent, National Public Radio

"Reading this gives me a feeling about this country I rarely get: a very visceral sense of all the different kinds of people who are living together here, with crazily different backgrounds and experiences and dreams. Like a Norman Rockwell painting where all the people happen to be real people, and all the stories are true. It makes me feel hopeful about America, reading this. Hopeful in a way that's in short supply lately."—Ira Glass, Producer and Host of This American Life
"My father, Edward R. Murrow, said that 'fresh ideas' from others helped him confront his own challenges. This superb collection of thought-provoking This I Believe essays, both from the new program heard on NPR and from the original 1950s series, provides fresh ideas for all of us!"—Casey Murrow, Elementary Education Publisher
"Now, as then, when Edward R. Murrow introduced the idea of This I Believe, this forward-thinking compilation serves as a wonderful antidote to the cynicism of the age."—Daniel Schorr, Senior News Analyst, NPR, and former colleague of Edward R. Murrow
"National Public Radio listeners have been moved to tears by the personal essays that constitute the series This I Believe. Created in 1951 with Edward Murrow as host, the sometimes funny, often profound, and always compelling series has been revived, according to host Jay Allison, because, once again, 'matters of belief divide our country and the world.' Oral historian Studs Terkel kicks things off, and 80 personal credos follow. Essays from the original series are interleaved with contemporary essays (selected from more than 11,000 submissions) to create a resounding chorus . . . Appendixes offer guidelines and resources because the urge to write such declarations is contagious, and schools and libraries have been coordinating This I Believe programs, which we believe is a righteous endeavor."—Donna Seaman, Booklist
"In an age of disinformation, spin, and lies, NPR's This I Believe comes as a source of refreshment and useful disquiet. NPR revived this 1950s radio series quite recently, and this collection draws transcripts from both the original series and its newer version, including some remarkable statements from the likes of dancer/choreographer Martha Graham, autistic academic Temple Grandin, writer and physicist Alan Lightman, novelist and social critic Thomas Mann, economic historian Arnold Toynbee, and feminist writer Rebecca West. Wonderful . . . astonishing to hear and astonishing to read and reread.”—Library Journal
"Allison (the host) and Gediman (the executive producer) [of the radio show] have collected some of the best essays from This I Believe then and now. 'Your personal credo' is what Allison calls it in the book's introduction, noting that today's program is distinguished from the 1950s version in soliciting submissions from ordinary Americans from all walks of life. These make up some of the book's most powerful and memorable moments, from the surgeon whose illiterate mother changed his early life with faith and a library card to the English professor whose poetry helped him process a traumatic childhood event. And in one of the book's most unusual essays, a Burmese immigrant confides that he believes in feeding monkeys on his birthday because a Buddhist monk once prophesied that if he followed this ritual, his family would prosper . . . This feast of ruminations is a treat for any reader."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Table of Contents
Studs Terkel
Jay Allison
Be Cool to the Pizza Dude
Sarah Adams
Leaving Identity Issues to Other Folks
Phyllis Allen
In Giving I Connect with Others
Isabel Allende
Remembering All the Boys
Elvia Bautista
The Mountain Disappears
Leonard Bernstein
How Is It Possible to Believe in God?
William F. Buckley, Jr.
The Fellowship of the World
Niven Busch
There is No Job More Important than Parenting
Benjamin Carson
A Journey toward Acceptance and Love
Greg Chapman
A Shared Moment of Trust
Warren Christopher
The Hardest Work You Will Ever Do
Mary Cook
Good Can Be as Communicable as Evil
Norman Corwin
A Daily Walk Just to Listen
Susan Cosio
The Elusive Yet Holy Core
Kathy Dahlen
My Father’s Evening Star
William O. Douglas
An Honest Doubter
Have I Learned Anything Important Since I Was Sixteen?
Elizabeth Deutsch Earle
An Ideal of Service to Our Fellow Man
Albert Einstein
The Power and Mystery of Naming Things
Eve Ensler
A Goal of Service to Humankind
Anthony Fauci
The God Who Embraced Me
John W. Fountain
Unleashing the Power of Creativity
Bill Gates
The People Who Love You When No One Else Will
Cecile Gilmer
The Willingness to Work for Solutions
Newt Gingrich
The Connection between Strangers
Miles Goodwin
An Athlete of God
Martha Graham
Seeing in Beautiful, Precise Pictures
Temple Grandin
Disrupting My Comfort Zone
Brian Grazer
Science Nourishes the Mind and the Soul
Brian Greene
In Praise of the "Wobblies"
Ted Gup
The Power of Presence
Debbie Hall
A Grown-Up Barbie
Jane Hamill
Happy Talk
Oscar Hammerstein II
Natural Links in a Long Chain of Being
Victor Hanson
Talking with the Sun
Joy Harjo
A Morning Prayer in a Little Church
Helen Hayes
Our Noble, Essential Decency
Robert A. Heinlein
A New Birth of Freedom
Maximilian Hodder
The Benefits of Restlessness and Jagged Edges
Kay Redfield Jamison
There Is No God
Penn Jillette
A Duty to Heal
Pius Kamau
Living Life with "Grace and Elegant Treeness"
Ruth Kamps
The Light of a Brighter Day
Helen Keller
The Bright Lights of Freedom
Harold Hongju Koh
The Power of Love to Transform and Heal
Jackie Lantry
The Power of Mysteries
Alan Lightman
Life Grows in the Soil of Time
Thomas Mann
Why I Close My Restaurant
George Mardikian
The Virtues of the Quiet Hero
John McCain
The Joy and Enthusiasm of Reading
Rick Moody
There Is Such a Thing as Truth
Errol Morris
The Rule of Law
Michael Mullane
Getting Angry Can Be a Good Thing
Cecilia Muñoz
The Mysterious Connections
Azar Nafisi
The Making of Poems
Gregory Orr
We Are Each Other’s Business
Eboo Patel
The 50-Percent Theory of Life
Steve Porter
The America I Believe In
Colin Powell
The Real Consequences of Justice
Frederic Reamer
There Is More to Life than My Life
Jamaica Ritcher
Tomorrow Will Be a Better Day
Josh Rittenberg
Free Minds and Hearts at Work
Jackie Robinson
Growth That Starts from Thinking
Eleanor Roosevelt
The Artistry in Hidden Talents
Mel Rusnov
My Fellow Worms
Carl Sandburg
When Children Are Wanted
Margaret Sanger
Jazz Is the Sound of God Laughing
Colleen Shaddox
There Is No Such Thing as Too Much Barbecue
Jason Sheehan
The People Have Spoken
Mark Shields
Everything Potent Is Dangerous
Wallace Stegner
A Balance between Nature and Nurture
Gloria Steinem
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness
Andrew Sullivan
Always Go to the Funeral
Deirdre Sullivan
Finding Prosperity by Feeding Monkeys
Harold Taw
I Agree with a Pagan
Arnold Toynbee
Testing the Limits of What I Know and Feel
John Updike
How Do You Believe in a Mystery?
Loudon Wainwright III
Creative Solutions to Life’s Challenges
Frank X Walker
Goodness Doesn’t Just Happen
Rebecca West
When Ordinary People Achieve Extraordinary Things
Jody Williams
Afterword: The History of This I Believe: The Power of an Idea
Dan Gediman
Appendix A: Introduction to the 1950s This I Believe Radio Series
Edward R. Murrow
Appendix B: How to Write Your Own This I Believe Essay
Appendix C: How to Use This I Believe in Your Community

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Studs Terkel
“At a time when the tide runs toward a sure conformity, when dissent is often confused with subversion, when a man’s belief may be subject to investigation as well as his actions . . .”
It has the ring of a 2006 mayday call of distress, yet it was written in 1952. Ed Murrow, introducing an assemblage of voices in the volume This I Believe, sounded a claxon.
It is an old story yet ever-contemporary. In 1791, Tom Paine, the most eloquent visionary of the American Revo-lution, sounded off:
Freedom has been
Read the full excerpt



  • This I Believe Audiobook Excerpt--William F. Buckley, Jr.

    Listen to William F. Buckley, Jr., founder of the National Review, speak about his belief in God in this audiobook excerpt from This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women, edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman. Based on the NPR series of the same name, This I Believe features eighty Americans, from the famous to the unknown, completing the thought that the book's title begins.

  • This I Believe Audiobook Excerpt--Isabel Allende

    Listen to author Isabel Allende speak about the power of giving in this audiobook excerpt from This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women, edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman. Based on the NPR series of the same name, This I Believe features eighty Americans, from the famous to the unknown, completing the thought that the book's title begins. Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own personal beliefs but also the extent to which they share



  • Jay Allison and Dan Gediman, eds.

  • Jay Allison, the host and curator of This I Believe, is an independent broadcast journalist. His work appears often on NPR and has earned him five Peabody Awards. He is the founder of the public radio stations that serve Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Cape Cod, where he lives.

    Dan Gediman is the executive producer of This I Believe. His work has been heard on All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Fresh Air, Marketplace, Jazz Profiles, and This American Life. He has won many of public broadcasting’s most prestigious awards, including the duPont-Columbia Award.
  • Jay Allison Nubar Alexanian
    Jay Allison
  • Dan Gediman Nubar Alexanian