Leadership In Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin, book review:
The New York Times, bestselling book about the early development, growth and exercise of leadership from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin “should help us raise our expectations of our national leaders, our country, and ourselves”. (Washington Post)
About The Author: Doris Kearns Goodwin
Doris Helen Kearns Goodwin is an American biographer, historian, former sports’ journalist and political commentator. Goodwin has written biographies of several U.S. presidents, including Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream; The Fitzgeralds and the Kennedys. An American Saga; Team of Rivals: The political genius of Abraham Lincoln; and The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism.
“After five decades of magisterial output, Doris Kearns Goodwin leads the league of presidential historians (USA Today). In her “inspiring” (The Christian Science Monitor) Leadership, Doris Kearns Goodwin draws upon the four presidents she has studied most closely-Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson (in civil rights)-to show how they recognized leadership qualities within themselves and were recognized as leaders by authors.
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.
Part One Of Leadership
In Part One we see four men when they first entered public life. In their twenties, when they set forth to forget their public identities, they appear very different from the sober, iconic countenances that have since saturated our culture, currency, and memorial sculpture. Their paths were anything but certain. Their stories abound in confusion, hope, failure, and fear.
Goodwin follows the mistakes made along the way, from inexperience, cookiness, lack of caution, outright misjudgments, and selfishness, and see the efforts made to acknowledge, conceal or overcome these mistakes. Their struggles are not so different from our own.
No Single Path Carried The Four To Political Leadership
No single path carried them to the pinnacle of political leadership. Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt were born to extraordinary privilege and wealth. Abraham Lincoln endured relentless poverty. Lyndon Johnson experienced sporadic hard times.
They differed widely in temperament, appearance, and physical ability. They were endowed with a divergent range of qualities often ascribed to leadership-intelligence, energy, empathy, verbal and written gifts, and skills in dealing with people.
They were united, however, by a fierce ambition, an inordinate drive to succeed. With perseverance and hard work, they all essentially made themselves leaders by enhancing and developing the qualities they were given.
All four men were recognized as leaders long before they reached the presidency. And like rocks in a polishing cylinder, all four were brought to shine by tumbling contact with a wide variety of people. They had found their vocation in politics. ” I have often thought, American philosopher William James wrote of the mysterious formation of identity,” that the best way to define a man’s character would be to seek out the particular mental or moral attitude in which, when it came upon him, he felt himself most deeply and intensely alive and active.”
At such moments, there is a vague inside which speaks and says, “This is the real me.”
Part Two Of Leadership
Dramatic reversals that shattered their private and public lives of all four men are the subject of Part Two.
Abraham Lincoln suffered a blow to his public reputation and his private sense of honor that led to a near-suicide depression.
Theodore Roosevelt lost his young wife and mother on the same day.
Franklin Roosevelt was struck by polio and left permanently paralyzed from the waist down.
Lyndon Johnson lost an election to the United States Senate. To draw an analogy between an election loss and the tragic reversals experienced by the others would appear, on the surface, ludicrous; but Lyndon Johnson construed rejection by the people as a judgment upon, and a repudiation of, his deepest-self. For a long period, the election loss negatively changed the direction of his career until a massive heart attack and the proximity of death re purposed his life.
Part Three Of Leadership
Part Three will bring the four men to the White House. Where they are at their formidable best, when guided by a sense of moral purpose, they were able to channel their ambitions and summon their talents to enlarge the opportunities and lives of others. Specific stories of how they led will explore the riddle: Do leaders shape the times or do the times summon their leaders.
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 he contours and dilemmas of their times. At their best, all four men were guided by a sense of moral purpose. At moments of great challenges, they were able to summon their talents to enlarge the opportunities and lives of others. Does the leader make the times or do the times make the leader?
“If ever our nation needed a short course on presidential leadership, it is now” (The Seattle Times). 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.
Even though this book looks back in time to how our leaders dealt with hard times and good times for that matter, it does show you the type of characteristics that it takes to be a true leader, or a president of the United States in the four men that are talked about in this book.
I felt that we all need to take a look at what our past leaders did in turbulent times, and how with what we are dealing with in todays society, we are in a pandemic, and they way that this horrific disease is handled by the scientists is one part of it, but our economy is another part of it. We as a nation need to ask more from our leader (President Trump) and to get concise information about the disease from experts, and also how we can open up our economy safely. We have not had that in the last 3 months, and it is very disturbing to me, how slow we are acting to this huge economic-health, and physical-health dilemma we are in has not gained much ground from the inception. We deserve stable leadership with a universal answer so everyone is acting the same, not partisan politics. This is not the time.
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If you would like to purchase this book, Get It Here: Leadership In Turbulent Times
All The Best,