Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership, Nixon to Clintonby David Gergen, David Gergen
Few Americans have observed the ups and downs of presidential leadership more closely over the past thirty years -- from Nixon to Clinton and Watergate to Whitewater -- than David Gergen. A White House adviser to four presidents, both Republican and Democrat, he offers a vivid, behind-the-scenes account of their struggles to exercise power and draws from them key lessons for leaders of the future. Taking us inside the administrations of Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton, Gergen reflects on everything from why Nixon was the best global strategist among recent presidents to how the Bill-and-Hillary seesaw rocked the White House during Clinton's tenure as president.
Gergen argues that, as the twenty-first century begins, our success as a country will depend heavily upon the success of a new generation in power. Drawing upon his many experiences in the White House, he offers seven vital elements for future leaders. What they must have, he says, are inner mastery; a central, compelling purpose rooted in moral values; a capacity to persuade; skills in working within the system; a fast start; a strong, effective team; and a passion that inspires others to keep the flame alive.
Michael Beschloss author of Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963-1964 A preeminent political analyst and public servant reveals intriguing hidden dimensions of the four presidents he served and brings us a meditation on presidential power that, like its author, is shrewd, thoughtful, and wise.
Jon Margolis The New York Times Book Review Perhaps nothing distinguishes Gergen's book from other White House memoirs more than the fundamental sympathy and respect he shows toward all the presidents he served.
- Simon & Schuster
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- Product dimensions:
- 6.44(w) x 9.57(h) x 1.39(d)
Read an Excerpt
What Would Richard Nixon Do?
"It is just possible that we are living at the dawn of a new golden age." --David Gergen, from the preface of Eyewitness to Power
The year 2000 may very well be the dawning of a magical time in America. As David Gergen warns, however, the same sentiment was also expressed at the turn of the 20th century, when America plunged into two world wars, the Great Depression, and a dark global era that saw only 12 democracies emerge intact from World War II. What went wrong?
According to ultimate presidential insider David Gergen, poor leadership was a large part of the reason for the tumult of the early 1900s. Now, in Eyewitness to Power, Gergen -- who has served under four presidents in the past 25 years -- offers a riveting account of the ups and downs of presidential leadership in the last quarter of the century. Gergen has weathered Oval Office storms from Watergate to Whitewater, and his behind-the-scenes lesson in leadership chronicles the tenures of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.
Be forewarned: This is anything but a kiss-and-tell look at these four presidencies. Rather, Gergen considers each presidency as he saw it unfold, thoughtfully outlining the strengths, the weaknesses, and the turning points in each administration. From Gergen's unique vantage point as an eyewitness to power, learn:
- How Richard Nixon displayed an arguably unparalleled mastery in global affairs -- but how the historical leaders he idolized hinted at the paranoia that insidiously swept the White House
- That Gerald Ford's brief tenure hinged on the politically unsavvy execution of Nixon's pardon -- an action that was not, as many claim, a grievous error in judgment but was so mishandled it cost him the presidency
- Why Ronald Reagan's temperament, not his intelligence, guided his presidency and earned the trust of a nation -- but how his reliance on others resulted in the muddled messages of the "Great Communicator"
- Why Gergen, an admittedly staunch conservative, joined President Bill Clinton's team and believed this president could be the stuff of legend -- until idealism, inexperience, and personal foibles alike got in the way
Along with fascinating accounts of the dramas that unfolded within White House walls, Gergen provides the seven key lessons for future leaders: inner mastery; a central, compelling purpose rooted in moral values; a capacity to persuade; skills in working within the system; a fast start; a strong, effective team; and a passion that inspires others to keep the flame alive. How did past presidents measure up? And how will the leaders of tomorrow learn from the lessons within? In Eyewitness to Power, Gergen offers a down-to-earth, authoritative guide to leadership -- whose impact stretches far beyond the White House.
Meet the Author
David Gergen is a prominent national journalist, teacher, and public lecturer. He is a professor of public service at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and codirector of the school's Center for Public Leadership. He is also editor-at-large at U.S. News & World Report and is a regular political analyst on television.
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Mr. Gergen has done all of us a good service with this work. It is refreshing to read an insider's perspective that doesn't adhere to tabloid factors. By not getting bogged down in unimportant details, the book moves quickly and provides insights that are not only valuable to understanding recent presidencies, but also applicable to our own lives and work situations. Well done Mr. Gergen P.S. Perhaps the Bush camp is still looking for a few good people.