Thursday, October 4, 2018

What I'm Reading: October, 2018


Because several of the folks who regularly attend my classes and lectures have been asking what I am reading these days, here's one that I've just finished.


Leadership:  In Turbulent Times, by Doris Kearns Goodwin, 2018

Leadership: In Turbulent Times by [Goodwin, Doris Kearns]

Adrian Liang, Amazon Book Review write: 

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin demonstrates how leaders are made, not born, as she thoughtfully explores the highs and lows of four U.S. presidents who faced moments of horrific national crisis. Goodwin's clean, assured sentences set the stage as each future president discovers within himself the desire to enter politics, the calamitous blows that knocked each one down, and how they tackled the struggles that tore at the sinews of the country.

Most fascinating is Goodwin's revelations about how very differently Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson approached not only their political careers but how they developed the character traits that helped them see—or make—a path toward a critical response that many others disagreed with. Lincoln's delivery of the Emancipation Proclamation, Theodore Roosevelt's handling of labor strikes, FDR's battle against the Great Depression in his first 100 days, and Johnson's prioritization of civil rights while a nation mourned were actions that could have ripped the country further apart but eventually bound it together and strengthened its democratic foundations.

 The rare weakness within Leadership: In Turbulent Times is the outlining of specific qualities, such as "Take the measure of the man" and "Set a deadline and drive full-bore to meet it," that are meant to distill leadership wisdom into bullet points, like contemporary business books. Goodwin's strength is in the rich context she provides as she shows that great leaders develop in dissimilar ways but ultimately have a vision they reach for and rely on when times are at their most turbulent.

 

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