NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“After five decades of magisterial output, Doris Kearns Goodwin leads the league of presidential historians. Insight is her imprint.”—USA TODAY
“A book like Leadership should help us raise our expectations of our national leaders, our country and ourselves.”—The Washington Post
“We can only hope that a few of Goodwin’s many readers will find in her subjects’ examples a margin of inspiration and a resolve to steer the country to a better place.”—The New York Times Book Review
In this culmination of five decades of acclaimed studies in presidential history, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin offers an illuminating exploration of the early development, growth, and exercise of leadership.
Are leaders born or made? Where does ambition come from? How does adversity affect the growth of leadership? Does the leader make the times or do the times make the leader?
In Leadership, Goodwin draws upon the four presidents she has studied most closely—Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson (in civil rights)—to show how they recognized leadership qualities within themselves and were recognized as leaders by others. By looking back to their first entries into public life, we encounter them at a time when their paths were filled with confusion, fear, and hope.
Leadership tells the story of how they all collided with dramatic reversals that disrupted their lives and threatened to shatter forever their ambitions. Nonetheless, they all emerged fitted to confront the contours and dilemmas of their times.
No common pattern describes the trajectory of leadership. Although set apart in background, abilities, and temperament, these men shared a fierce ambition and a deep-seated resilience that enabled them to surmount uncommon hardships. At their best, all four were guided by a sense of moral purpose. At moments of great challenge, they were able to summon their talents to enlarge the opportunities and lives of others.
This seminal work provides an accessible and essential road map for aspiring and established leaders in every field. In today’s polarized world, these stories of authentic leadership in times of apprehension and fracture take on a singular urgency.
An Amazon Best Book of September 2018: 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. —Adrian Liang, Amazon Book Review