Certain Trumpets: The Call of Leaders

Garry Wills, Author, Gary Will, Author
Garry Wills, Author, Gary Will, Author Simon & Schuster $23 (336p) ISBN 978-0-671-65702-4
Reviewed on: 05/02/1994
Release date: 05/01/1994
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-684-80138-4
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-4391-2730-8
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For this unusual study, Wills ( Lincoln at Gettysburg ) has chosen 16 figures who exemplify a distinctive leadership type--for example, military (Napoleon), charismatic (King David), saintly (Catholic worker activist Dorothy Day). Each leader is contrasted with an ``antitype'' who, in Wills's judgment, failed to capitalize on strengths similar to those of his or her successful counterpart. Thus, Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose battle against polio inspired Americans to overcome hardship and war, dwarfs Adlai Stevenson, an idealist who thought ``voters should come to him''; and daring business leader Ross Perot, who welded a lean, mean sales team to launch a computer-service company, outranks General Motors CEO Roger Smith, who closed plants but would not explain his acts before the public. Wills pairs Martha Graham with Madonna, Socrates with Ludwig Wittgenstein, Eleanor Roosevelt with Nancy Reagan in a wise, witty, entertaining look at the psychology of leaders and their followers. One might question how hard some of his antitypes tried to be leaders. As Wills himself admits, ``Madonna is not leading a crusade.'' Illustrated. 75,000 first printing; BOMC, QPB and History Book Club alternates; author tour. (May)
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