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“Though we cannot learn leadership, we can learn from leaders, which is why this volume is so engaging and valuable.”—Boston Globe
What made FDR a more successful leader during the Depression crisis than Hoover? Why was Eisenhower more effective as supreme commander at war than he was as president? Who was Pauli Murray and why was she a pivotal figure in the civil rights movement?
Find the answers to these questions and more in essays by great historians including Sean Wilentz, Alan Brinkley, Annette Gordon-Reed, Jean Strouse, Frances FitzGerald, and others. Entertaining and insightful individually, taken together the essays address the enduring ingredients of leadership, the focus of an introduction by Walter Isaacson.
Renowned historians describe the leadership secrets of presidents, generals, preachers, a baseball manager and others.
This bright anthology from the Society of American Historians gathers essays from top-flight historians—Sean Wilentz, David M. Kennedy, Jean Strouse, Alan Brinkley, David Levering Lewis, etc.—on the leadership skills of an array of Americans. As Isaacson (Einstein: His Life and Universe, 2007, etc.) notes in his introduction, a major theme is that the greatest challenge of leadership is knowing when to be pragmatic and when to adhere to principle, which is nicely illustrated by Brinkley's piece contrasting Herbert Hoover as "a victim of his convictions" and Franklin Roosevelt as the experimenter. Kevin Baker shows how the celebrated baseball manager John Joseph McGraw shined as a master clubhouse psychologist. Evan Thomas points to Robert Kennedy's insecurities as the source for his empathy for the downtrodden. David M. Kennedy finds that the ever-optimistic Dwight Eisenhower's ability to elicit cooperation served him well at war and in the White House. Two pieces stand out, both on lesser-known historical figures. Frances FitzGerald vividly evokes the life of Charles Finney, an upstate New York evangelist of the 1800s, whose emotional preaching upset the established clergy and inspired temperance, abolition and other major reform movements. In a wonderful essay on Pauli Murray, an early civil-rights champion, Glenda Gilmore shows how this remarkable African-American—feminist, lawyer, poet, ordained Episcopalian priest and friend of Eleanor Roosevelt—relied on persistence and self-invention to become a powerful opponent of Jim Crow. Other essays cover Ulysses S. Grant, J.P. Morgan, Joseph (Chief of the Nez Perce Indians), W.E.B. Dubois and Wendell Willkie. In an analysis of leadership failures, Robert Dallek explains why our optimism over new presidents invariably leads to disappointment as they craft poor policies and stumble over foreign crises.
Good bedside reading for history buffs.
Posted November 21, 2010
A very good book. Very nicely written and edited. A lot of information about leadership. I highly enjoyed it. The chapters on Grant and Chief Joseph were well done. Of course, my favorite was the piece on Washington.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.