The Art of Fairness: The Power of Decency in a World Turned Mean

The Art of Fairness: The Power of Decency in a World Turned Mean

by David Bodanis


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From a New York Times bestselling author, a fresh and detail-rich argument that the best way to lead is to be fair

Can you succeed without being a terrible person? We often think not: recognizing that, as the old saying has it, “nice guys finish last.” But does that mean you have to go to the other extreme and be a bully or Machiavellian to get anything done?

In The Art of Fairness, bestselling author David Bodanis uses thrilling case studies to show there's a better path, leading neatly in between. He reveals how it was fairness, applied with skill, that led the Empire State Building to be constructed in barely a year––and how the same techniques brought a quiet English debutante to become an acclaimed jungle guerrilla fighter. In ten vivid profiles featuring pilots, presidents, and even the producer of Game of Thrones, we see that the path to greatness doesn't require crushing displays of power or tyrannical ego. Simple fair decency can prevail.

With surprising insights from across history––including the downfall of the very man who popularized the phrase “nice guys finish last”––The Art of Fairness charts a refreshing and sustainable new approach to cultivating integrity and influence.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781419756351
Publisher: ABRAMS
Publication date: 09/07/2021
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 704,685
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

David Bodanis was born in Chicago, lived in France for a decade, and makes his home in London. He studied math, physics, and history at the University of Chicago, and for many years, taught the “Intellectual Toolkit” course at Oxford. His books include the New York Times bestselling The Secret House, the bestselling E=mc², which was adapted into the PBS documentary Einstein’s Big Idea, and the Royal Society Science Book of the Year Prize winner Electric Universe.

Table of Contents


A Quiet Tea 1

I The Stories

Part 1 Listeners

1 Pilots 17

Listen, without ego - Al Haynes and Park Duk-kyu

2 Directors 37

Listen, without fixation - Danny Boyle and Old-School Hollywood

Part 2 Givers

3 Builders 51

Give, but audit- Paul Starrett and Frank Lorenzo

4 Fighters 63

Give, by letting others give - Ursula Graham Bower and Old-School Colonialists

Part 3 Defenders

5 Coaches 79

Defend, by not overdefending - Gil Hodges and Leo Durocher

6 Tech Executives 89

Defend, by opening gateways - Satya Nadella and Steve Ballmer

Reflection - Who Are We?

7 Voyagers 105

On the Loving Kindness of Captain William Bligh

II The Test

Part 4 Propaganda Master

8 Young Men in Transition 131

Joey and Elsie

9 Reichsminister 143

Joseph Goebbels triumphant

Part 5 President

10 Gilded Youths 167

The Ordeal of Franklin D. Roosevelt

11 New Dealer 193

Hitler's White House Invitation

Part 6 War

12 How Good People Succeed 217



The Repair of a Broken World 235

Readings and Reflections 237

Acknowledgments 259

Index 265

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