Leadership in Turbulent Times

Doris Kearns Goodwin. Simon & Schuster, $30 (464p) ISBN 978-1-4767-9592-8
Goodwin (Team of Rivals) further burnishes her credentials as a popular historian with this thoughtful revisiting of the lives of four presidents to whom she has previously dedicated individual books—Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson—with the aim of obtaining answers to eternal questions about leadership, including what life experiences contribute to it and whether “the times make the leader” or vice versa. She toggles back and forth between her subjects in sections that trace their upbringings and ambitions, the adversities that tested them (such as personal tragedies and crippling illness), and their approach to the major challenges that confronted them as presidents. She notes commonalities—each of the four was determined to outwork political opponents—as well as differences, for example contrasting Lincoln’s impoverished childhood with the privileged upbringing both Roosevelts had. The meat of the book is four chapters, one for each subject, about important episodes in their presidencies, with headings naming elements of their leadership styles (“Acknowledge when failed policies demand a change in direction”; “Don’t hit unless you have to, but when you hit, hit hard”). Goodwin does not shy from criticism, especially of Johnson, whom she worked for in the White House and helped with his memoirs; she writes that he stumbled badly on Vietnam. But overall the tone is inspirational, setting forth examples of how to do leadership right. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/30/2018
Release date: 09/18/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-5082-3296-4
Paperback - 496 pages - 978-1-982107-19-2
Library Binding - 978-1-4328-5382-2
Paperback - 496 pages - 978-1-4767-9593-5
Paperback - 978-1-4328-6921-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-5082-3295-7
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