In his Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Lincoln at Gettysburg, Garry Wills reframed our understanding of Lincoln the leader. Wills breathed new life into words we thought we knew and revealed much about a President so mythologized but often misunderstood. He showed how Lincoln's personality was less at issue than his followers' values and Lincoln's exquisite ability, in a mere 272 words, to reach them, to give the whole nation "a new birth of freedom," and to weave a spell that has not yet been broken. Now Wills extends his extraordinary quality of observation and iconoclastic scholarship to examine the nature of leadership itself, perhaps history's most pivotal and emotionally charged topic. Almost the first thing people say about leaders is that we used to have them but now do not. Some blame this on the press, or on television, or on education. Others say we are manipulated, not led. Still others pore over book after book, searching for the perfect exemplar to imitate in order to achieve success. Wills offers a wide range of portraits drawn largely, but not exclusively, from American history and representing revolutionary, political, religious, business, artistic, sports, and military leaders - Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Andrew Young, Napoleon, King David, Ross Perot, George Washington, Socrates, Mary Baker Eddy, Carl Stotz, Martha Graham, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesare Borgia, and Dorothy Day - each shown in the act of leading his or her followers. And after each example, Wills also provides an anti-type to help define the type better. He moves beyond the traditional study of elected officials and business giants, past the usual emphasis on glamour, forceful personality, or technique, to look at leaders of different scope and particular talents. Wills shows how leaders are shaped by the very circumstances in which they must shape others' actions. No one, after all, can be a leader without followe
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wills offers a fascinating blend of history and biography on the mainstream topic of leadership. 4 cassettes.
For this unusual study, Wills ( Lincoln at Gettysburg ) has chosen 16 figures who exemplify a distinctive leadership type--for example, military (Napoleon), charismatic (King David), saintly (Catholic worker activist Dorothy Day). Each leader is contrasted with an ``antitype'' who, in Wills's judgment, failed to capitalize on strengths similar to those of his or her successful counterpart. Thus, Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose battle against polio inspired Americans to overcome hardship and war, dwarfs Adlai Stevenson, an idealist who thought ``voters should come to him''; and daring business leader Ross Perot, who welded a lean, mean sales team to launch a computer-service company, outranks General Motors CEO Roger Smith, who closed plants but would not explain his acts before the public. Wills pairs Martha Graham with Madonna, Socrates with Ludwig Wittgenstein, Eleanor Roosevelt with Nancy Reagan in a wise, witty, entertaining look at the psychology of leaders and their followers. One might question how hard some of his antitypes tried to be leaders. As Wills himself admits, ``Madonna is not leading a crusade.'' Illustrated. 75,000 first printing; BOMC, QPB and History Book Club alternates; author tour. (May)
Wills Lincoln at Gettysburg, LJ 5/1/92 identifies 16 historical figures who fit his definition of a leader-one who motivates others toward a common goal shared by the followers. His subjects include high-profile leaders like Washington, Roosevelt, and Napoleon and less conspicuous individuals like Carl Stotz, Dorothy Day, and Andrew Young. His categories include some curious selections-Eleanor Roosevelt for reform leadership, Socrates for intellectual leadership, and Pope John XXIII for traditional leadership. Wills concludes the section on each type with a brief analysis of an antitype, e.g., Stephen A. Douglas is presented as the antitype to the radical leadership of Harriet Tubman. The author admits that his are not necessarily the greatest or best of leaders; rather, they illustrate distinct kinds of ability. He concludes that whom one admires as a leader is an insight into the inner self. An important book by an important author, this volume is highly recommended for all academic and public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/94.]-Boyd Childress, Auburn Univ. Lib., Ala.
School Library Journal
YA-Students will find food for thought in this volume of essays that attempts to compare and contrast styles of leadership by pairing successful leaders with antitypes. For instance, electoral giant Franklin Roosevelt is paired with Adlai Stevenson; Napoleon with George McClellan military; Martin Luther King, Jr. with Robert Parris Moses rhetorical. In every instance, consideration of the interests of followers and the ability to identify with them are deemed vital to the person's success. Roosevelt's experience with polio, for instance, allowed him to empathize with the struggles of ordinary citizens during the Depression. Stevenson, on the other hand, was aloof from the people, expecting his ideas to be enough to garner a following. In some instances, the pairs stretch the credibility of Wills's theory, and readers should be warned that the book is limited in biographical scope. Its narrow focus, however, brilliantly underscores its message.-Jackie Gropman, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA
Garry Wills is an Emeritus Professor of History at Northwestern University. Born in Atlanta in 1934, he has taught widely throughout the United States. A prolific writer and scholar, Wills is the author of more than twenty books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lincoln at Gettysburg, Papal Sin, and What Jesus Meant. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Born in Atlanta in 1934 and raised in the Midwest, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and distinguished religion writer Garry Wills entered the Jesuit seminary after high school graduation, but left after six years of training. He received a B.A. from St. Louis University (1957), an M.A. from Xavier University of Cincinnati (1958), and his Ph.D. in classics from Yale (1961).
After graduating from Xavier, Wills was hired to work as the drama critic for National Review magazine, where he became a close personal friend and protégé of founding editor William F. Buckley. But as the winds of change blew across the 1960s, Wills got caught up in the cross-currents. A staunch Catholic anti-Communist in his youth, he began to drift away from political conservatism, galvanized by the civil rights movement and the Vietnam debate. He parted ways with National Review and began writing for more liberal-leaning publications like Esquire and the New York Review of Books, a defection that left him slightly estranged from Buckley for many years. (They reconciled before Buckley's death in 2008.)
In 1961, while he was still in grad school, Wills's first book, Chesterton: Man and Mask was published. [It was revised and reissued in 2001 with a new author's introduction.] Since then, the prolific Wills has gone on to pen critically acclaimed nonfiction that roams across history, politics, and religion. He expanded one of his Esquire articles into Nixon Agonistes (1970), a probing profile John Leonard said "...reads like a combination of H. L. Mencken, John Locke and Albert Camus." (The book landed Wills on the famous Nixon's Enemies List.) He has also written penetrating studies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Wayne, and Saint Paul; he has won two National Book Critics Circle Awards; and his 1992 book Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.
Something of a rara avis, Wills is a Catholic intellectual who has produced thoughtful, scholarly books on religion in America. His translations of St. Augustine have received glowing reviews, and he has acted both as an outspoken critic of the Church (Papal Sin) and as an ardent advocate for his own faith Why I Am a Catholic). Proof of his accessibility can be found in the fact that several of his religion books have become bestsellers.