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Great Americans: Stories of Resilience and Joy in Everyday Life is a collection of 30 of Michael Vitez’s favorite and most inspiring stories from 30 years at The Philadelphia Inquirer. Vitez was a Pulitzer Prize winning staff writer there, and had concentrated on human interest stories and narratives.

Michael Vitez is a storyteller and believes profoundly in the power of stories to inspire, to bring people together, and to change the world. His compass point as a writer has long been a quote by William Faulkner from his Nobel Prize winning speech. He said that it is the writer’s privilege and duty “to help man endure by lifting his heart.”

In his own small way, in a career in daily newspapers, he had tried to do just that. Vitez has chosen these stories in particular because they highlight our spirit and sacrifice and determination and commitment and goodness.

These stories are a sampling of the life work of Michael Vitez and an expression of how he sees the world, and an enduring example of his own resilience and joy.


Matthew Miller had just pedaled up a mountain pass. He was 20, a member of the University of Virginia triathlon club, so fit his resting pulse was 42! He was on top of the world in so many ways, in love, with dreams of attending medical school. And then, cycling along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, tragedy struck. The real story is not what happened, but what happened after. Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Michael Vitez shares with you the incredible, humbling, miraculous story of Matt’s survival and recovery. It is a story, truly, of grace and grit, of an America that shines – families, community, individuals and institutions. The story is as gripping as it is inspiring. Ride along!



“This is an absorbing, well-written, and inspiring book about a special young man who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury. The medical accounts were accurate and compelling, and I think anyone with an interest in recovery from neurological injury would enjoy this book.”

— Dong H. Kim
Chief of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas Medical School who cared for Congresswoman Gabby Giffords

“The Road Back is an incredible story of survival and recovery against all odds. Matt Miller's focus and determination are unbelievable and inspiring – I'll never again have an excuse not to get out and train.”

— Erin Donohue
U.S. Olympic 1500-meter runner

“This engaging account of Matt Miller's unwavering positive attitude and determination in the face of a near death injury is inspiring. As a former collegiate athlete, enthusiastic marathon runner and the current owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, I can truly appreciate the effort it took for Matt to recover and finish the Ironman in such an impressive time. Philadelphia should be proud to call Matt and his fiancée Emily it's own.”

— Josh Harris
owner Philadelphia 76ers