cover image The Leader’s Bookshelf: 25 Great Books and Their Readers

The Leader’s Bookshelf: 25 Great Books and Their Readers

Martin Cohen. Rowman & Littlefield, $32 (288p) ISBN 978-1-53813-576-1

Philosopher Cohen (101 Philosophy Problems) ruminates on the books that have inspired successful people in this fun yet haphazard survey. In each chapter, Cohen pairs two leaders or innovators—such as Barack Obama and Jane Goodall, or Oprah Winfrey and Malala Yousafzai—who share similar interests, provides short biographies of each, and delves into books that have made a mark on their thinking. On the business mogul front, Steve Jobs’s interest in the “hippie philosophy” of Ram Dass is paired with computer pioneer Evelyn Berezin’s love of science fiction; and Warren Buffett’s interest in philanthropic giving is set against John D. Rockefeller’s early obsession with the diaries of cotton baron Amos Lawrence, published in 1856. In some cases the connection between those profiled and Cohen’s chosen books is plain—for example, Richard Branson mentions the Dice Man books in many interviews as influencing his risk-taking business philosophy. However, other connections are more tenuous, such as Cohen’s belief that Jacob Riis “seems” to have gotten the travel bug from reading James Fenimore Cooper. While Cohen’s explanations of influential books are enjoyable and upbeat, these meandering profiles provides little beyond factoids and stimulating yet often unsupported conjecture. (Nov.)