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Leadership: In Turbulent Times (2018)

by Doris Kearns Goodwin

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6261727,132 (4.23)8
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? Historian Doris Kearns 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. 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.… (more)

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» See also 8 mentions

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No tenia ni idea de la vida de estos cuatro presidentes asi que ha sido bastante informativo.
No me ha gustado que intentan tomar conclusiones positivas de todo lo que hicieron cuando evidentemente eran humanos y se equivocaron tanto como el que mas.
Pero aparte de esta mirada a la historia con gafas de color de rosa, lo demas esta bastante bien. ( )
  trusmis | Nov 28, 2020 |
The instructive nature of history feels apparent in this volume by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Comparing the lives, presidencies, and leadership styles of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, FDR, and LBJ, this text calls attention to the similarities between these remarkable presidents, but also displays the differences in leadership each man. Still, each of these presidents suited their own tumultuous era and used their unique and hard-won abilities to guide the nation they governed. This book is not a summary of each man life or presidency; rather, significant events are examined in detail and other happenings are unmentioned. Those seeking comprehensive histories of any of these presidents should likely seek another book. However, this thoughtful examination of leadership in American history is a book well suited to the present and is a volume I would recommend for those seeking both history and context for contemporary American politics. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Nov 20, 2020 |
Doris Kearns Goodwin returns to her favorite subjects: Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, and LBJ to illustrate the qualities that make an effective leader. Although remarkable different in their backgrounds all four men possessed a fierce ambition to succeed and make their mark upon society, as well as an uncommon ability to face and overcome adversity in their personal lives. This book should be required reading for every politician in this country. ( )
  etxgardener | Dec 10, 2019 |
At times, I felt like Goodwin just combed through her previous books and research to put together this study of leadership. At other times, I was very interested by what she had to say about how Lincoln, the two Roosevelts and LBJ rose to the challenges they faced or why, in the case of LBJ, he didn't stop the escalation in Vietnam. ( )
  nmele | Sep 19, 2019 |
In Leadership in Turbulent Times, Doris Kearns Goodwin seeks to uncover what traits make a leader of nations using Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson as case studies. She writes, “These four extended examples show how their leadership fit the historical moment as a key fits a lock… While there is neither a master key to leadership nor a common lock of historical circumstance, we can detect a certain family resemblance of leadership traits as we trace the alignment of leadership capacity within its historical context” (pg. xv). To this point, Goodwin argues, “These four men form a family tree, a lineage of leadership that spans the entirety of our country’s history” (pg. xvi). Describing leadership qualities, Goodwin cites Lincoln’s natural empathy, Theodore Roosevelt’s intellect and ability to step outside his world of privilege, Franklin Roosevelt’s temperament, and Lyndon Johnson’s persistence.

Goodwin writes of Abraham Lincoln’s early foray into politics, “Lincoln revealed early on a quality that would characterize his leadership for the rest of his life – a willingness to acknowledge errors and learn from his mistakes. The pact Lincoln offered the people – the promise of unremitting labor in return for their support – was for him a covenant… From the start, the destiny he sought was no simple craving for individual fame and distinction; his ambitions were, first and always, linked with the people” (pg. 12). Even in defeat, Goodwin demonstrates how Lincoln set an example for leadership, writing, “Lincoln voiced a sentiment that would become a refrain in his troubled passage to middle age: ‘How hard – Oh how hard it is to die and leave one’s country no better than if one had never lived’” (pg. 105). Further describing setbacks, Goodwin writes, “There are points of likeness in the seminal disasters that befell both Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt in the early stages of their careers. Both crucibles were precipitated by a combination of intimate, personal crises and public repudiation that seemed to crush their core ambitions. Both swore off politics or at least paid lip service to deserting politics forever. Both suffered severe depressions. Healing change had to come from within while they waited for the historical kaleidoscope to turn” (pg. 130). Discussing the onset of FDR’s polio, Goodwin writes, “Franklin Roosevelt’s ordeal provides the most clear-cut paradigm of how a devastating crucible experience can, against all expectation and logic, lead to significant growth, intensified ambition, and enlarged gifts for leadership” (pg. 162). She writes of FDR’s leadership and frankness during the First 100 Days, “If ever an argument can be made for the conclusive importance of the character and intelligence of the leader in fraught times, at home and abroad, it will come to rest on the broad shoulders of Franklin Delano Roosevelt” (pg. 305). Goodwin credits “Johnson’s gargantuan ambition, driving temperament, and unique legislative experience” for his early Presidential successes (pg. 327). She does, however, discuss the paradox of his success at domestic policy and failings in foreign policy, specifically his handling of Vietnam. Writes Goodwin, “From the first day of his presidency, when engaging domestic affairs and civil rights, Johnson had a concrete vision of the goals he wanted to achieve and a clear strategy for how to rouse Congress and the people to attain those goals. By contrast, when he drew his countrymen into a ground war in Vietnam he was motivated less by a set of positive goals than by a powerful sense of what he wanted to avoid – failure, loss, and a humiliating defeat for himself and his country” (pg. 338-339).

Like much of Goodwin’s work, Leadership in Turbulent Times is primarily a synthesis of scholarship on the four presidents and theories of leadership, relying largely on the “great men doing great things” formula of writing history. That said, the work itself is highly readable with insights that both academics and non-academics may find useful, especially in applying the lessons Goodwin extracts from her subjects’ lives. Goodwin discusses Lincoln’s philosophy, writing, “He considered history, an understanding of how we came to be, the best vehicle for understanding who we are and where we are going” (pg. 368). Such a philosophy guides Goodwin’s focus in this work. This Easton Press edition is gorgeously leather-bound with gilt page edges and signed by the author. It makes a lovely gift for recent college or university graduates studying history. ( )
  DarthDeverell | Jun 13, 2019 |
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For my husband, Richard Goodwin, and our best man and closest friend, Michael Rothschild
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(Foreword) Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson - the lives and times of these four men have occupied me for half a century.
Lincoln was only twenty-three years old on March 9, 1832, when he declared his intention to run for a seat in the Illinois state legislature.
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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? Historian Doris Kearns 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. 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.

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