Profiles in Leadership

Profiles in Leadership

Historians on the Elusive Quality of Greatness

Book - 2010 | `1st ed.
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What made FDR a more successful leader during the Depression crisis than Hoover? Why was Eisenhower more effective as supreme commander during World War II than he was as president? Why was Grant one of the best presidents of his day, if not in all of American history? What drove Bobby Kennedy into the scrum of electoral politics? Who was Pauli Murray and why was she one of the most decisive figures in the movement for civil rights?Find the surprising and revelatory answers to these questions and more in this collection of new essays by great historians, including Sean Wilentz, Alan Brinkley, Annette Gordon-Reed, Jean Strouse, Robert Dallek, Frances FitzGerald, and others. Entertaining and insightful individually, taken together the essays represent a valuable set of reflections on the enduring ingredients of leadership--the focus of an introduction by Walter Isaacson.This book is a treat for lovers of fine history.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton, c2010.
Edition: `1st ed.
ISBN: 9780393076554
0393076555
Branch Call Number: 324.22 PROFILES
Characteristics: 331 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.
Additional Contributors: Isaacson, Walter

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BigMoose Nov 21, 2011

The concept was good, but somewhere along the way the essayists missed the point as they reverted to their more familiar personae as historians and biographers. The actual leadership qualities became lost to me in the biographical details of most of the essays. The surprise subjects didn't help at all -- why John McGraw (the obnoxious NY Giants Manager) was included is beyond me; and why include a chapter on certain US Presidents on how they failed to lead in a book that is supposed to be about profiles in leadership (I agreed with the choices for that chapter, by the way, just not with their inclusion). Probably, I misread the subtitle and was hoping for more examples of great leaders and the qualities that made them so.

My favorite essays and those that seemed to actually define some personal qualities of leadership in their subject's profiles, were about Ulysses S. Grant (by Sean Wilentz), Dwight D. Eisenhower (by David M. Kennedy), and Robert F. Kennedy (by Evan Thomas). The last, on Kennedy, was excellent (and I have never been a Kennedy fan). Much of the rest were empty for me. Thus, I was somewhat disappointed in this book.

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