Certain Trumpets: The Nature of Leadership

Certain Trumpets: The Nature of Leadership

by Garry Wills
     
 

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This “beautifully written and reasoned” (Booklist) narrative by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Wills examines what constitutes meaningful leadership, and why it is so essential to society.

What makes a leader? How do we identify effective leadership, and how should—and shouldn’t—that power be used? In Certain

Overview

This “beautifully written and reasoned” (Booklist) narrative by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Garry Wills examines what constitutes meaningful leadership, and why it is so essential to society.

What makes a leader? How do we identify effective leadership, and how should—and shouldn’t—that power be used? In Certain Trumpets, Garry Wills presents portraits of eminent leaders including FDR to Ross Perot, King David, Martha Graham, and many others, offering an illuminating lens for studying society and ourselves. Dividing these portraits into sixteen leadership categories ranging from military to charismatic, intellectual, rhetorical, and elected, Wills highlights what makes each of his subjects unique, crafting along the way a distinct and incisive definition of leadership as a reciprocal engagement between two contrasting wills that serves to mobilize us toward a common good, and explaining why leadership is so often a contentious and emotionally charged subject. “A stunningly literate and thoughtful examination of what makes a leader…[and] a welcome antidote to some of the more egregious ‘management style’ drivel,” (Kirkus Reviews), Certain Trumpets is an inspiring and edifying tour through the history of an indispensable social art.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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)
Library Journal
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
Brad Hooper
The Pulitzer Prize-winning commentator and historian once again offers lucid, unique thinking on various sociopolitical situations from the past. What he had to say in the wise and revisionist "Lincoln at Gettysburg" (1992) is the perfect antecedent to what he has to say now; in the previous book Wills showed how our sixteenth president, a verbal magician, changed the way people interpreted the North's intent in the Civil War through his short speech at Gettysburg. Lincoln was a great leader, and leadership is Wills' subject here. In a series of short profiles of outstanding leaders at work, he analyzes the nature of leadership and its variations in practice within different contexts: politics, the military, business, religion, sports, the arts, etc. The format is particularly edifying in that for each of the individuals Wills presents as a good leader, he submits a counterpoint: an "antitype" (as he calls it), an individual who was bad at exactly what the superior political or religious or business leader was good at. "Mobilization toward a common good" is the sheer definition of leadership Wills tenders, and from Franklin Roosevelt to Harriet Tubman to Martha Graham, he informs us what that concept has meant in action. Beautifully written and reasoned.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439127308
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
05/28/2013
Sold by:
SIMON & SCHUSTER
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
672,828
File size:
12 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

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.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
May 22, 1934
Place of Birth:
Atlanta, GA
Education:
St. Louis University, B.A., 1957; Xavier University, M.A., 1958; Yale University, Ph.D., 1961

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