King of the Mountain: The Nature of Political Leadership

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Overview

People may choose to ignore their animal heritage by interpreting their behavior as divinely inspired, socially purposeful, or even self-serving, all of which they attribute to being human, but they masticate, fornicate, and procreate, much as chimps and apes do, so they should have little cause to get upset if they learn that they act like other primates when they politically agitate, debate, abdicate, placate, and administrate, too." -- from the book King of the Mountain presents the startling findings of Arnold M. Ludwig's eighteen-year investigation into why people want to rule. The answer may seem obvious -- power, privilege, and perks -- but any adequate answer also needs to explain why so many rulers cling to power even when they are miserable, trust nobody, feel besieged, and face almost certain death. Ludwig's results suggest that leaders of nations tend to act remarkably like monkeys and apes in the way they come to power, govern, and rule. Profiling every ruler of a recognized country in the twentieth century -- over 1,900 people in all­­, Ludwig establishes how rulers came to power, how they lost power, the dangers they faced, and the odds of their being assassinated, committing suicide, or dying a natural death. Then, concentrating on a smaller sub-set of 377 rulers for whom more extensive personal information was available, he compares six different kinds of leaders, examining their characteristics, their childhoods, and their mental stability or instability to identify the main predictors of later political success. Ludwig's penetrating observations, though presented in a lighthearted and entertaining way, offer important insight into why humans have engaged in war throughout recorded history as well as suggesting how they might live together in peace.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Applying the insights of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology to political leadership, University of Kentucky emeritus professor of psychiatry Arnold M. Ludwig (How Do We Know Who We Are?) in King of the Mountain: The Nature of Political Leadership compares human rulers to primates, arguing that male politicians, like their simian alpha-male cohorts, are adept at gaining, exercising and keeping power. Ludwig then focuses closely on 377 world leaders, including Idi Amin, Tony Blair, Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan examining a string of traits to identify what he considers the factors that determine a leader's greatness: the addition of new territory, military prowess, economic prosperity, etc. Although Ludwig presents exhaustive research, many of his assumptions such as that all societies want a ruler because it's the natural order of things lack support. Moreover, Ludwig quickly loses sight of his (somewhat shaky) thesis that human politicians derive their leadership drive from their primate ancestors. 29 b&w illus. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher

"The author measures each [leader] on an index of political greatness and explores the common predilection toward conflict and war. This book will serve readers at all levels." -- Choice

"Every single page contains something striking and thought-provoking." -- Fortean Times

"World politics is made by world leaders. These men (very few are women), who love to present themselves as having their people's interests at heart, are driven by the same desire for power recognized by every primatologist as a universal alpha male characteristic. Based on nearly two thousand profiles of political leaders, King of the Mountain drives this point home as no other book before." -- Frans B. M. de Waal, author of Chimpanzee Politics

"A unique and important contribution.... The insights and analyses have far-reaching consequences to all fields of human endeavor, especially to politics.... Clear, cogent, and at times laced with humor." -- George Schaller, Wildlife Conservation Society

"An enjoyable book. The statistical tables alone are worth the price." -- Journal of the American Medical Association

"There is a richness to Ludwig's approach that is very appealing." -- Leadership

"A scholarly attempt to measure political leadership with the cool objectivity of science." -- New York Times

"A thoroughly enjoyable read.... Ludwig's eye for an anecdote is a good one, and provides much pleasure." -- Nth Position

"Well-written, engaging, insightful.... Ludwig's book makes a bona fide contribution to the study of leadership." -- Rhetoric and Public Affairs

"An arresting book that casts political science out the window and explains leadership through comparisons with chimpanzees, baboons, and gorillas." -- Washington Post Book World

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813190686
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
  • Publication date: 3/14/2008
  • Pages: 496
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

List of illustrations
Introduction
1 Why rulers rule 1
2 It's a man's world 22
3 The perks of power 50
4 A dangerous game 79
5 Rearing rulers 126
6 Little acorns into mighty oaks 170
7 Of sound mind?? 221
8 The measure of political greatness 316
10 Warmongers or peacemakers? 354
App. A : sample of rulers 379
App. B : methodology 389
App. C : data collection and statistics 399
App. D Political greatness scale 403
Notes 409
Statistics 433
Acknowledgments 463
Index 465
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