Thanks so much for writing this post! I agree with everything Vaidehi said.
You really hyperlinked to the comment directly above your own? Smooth. :p
I too want more books like Strangers Drowning. I know of two books that try to do the same from a non-EA-perspective:
Heroes: From Alexander the Great & Julius Caesar to Churchill & de Gaulle
(Spoiler: Most of these can hardly be called “heroes” imo. Not recommed.)
The Triumph of Liberty: A 2000 Year History Told Through the Lives of Freedom’s Greatest Champions
IIRC it some cool stories with questionable accuracy of people with grit, and I liked it more than the previous book above, but I can’t really recommend it.
Additionally some inspiring biographies:
I know I really liked Frederick Douglass’ autobiography. He seems like he was a really good person iirc. Weakly recommend.
I wholeheartedly recommend The Infidel and the Professor: David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought, however! Maybe not prototypical heroes, but fighting to advance thought and make a nicer world in a somewhat hostile climate while maintaining their integrity.
If you or anyone reading this has recommendations of this sort, consider yourself nudged to comment.