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American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative…

American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a…

by Walter Isaacson

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A collection of Isaacson's reviews, interviews, and biographical sketches. Some are almost too glib or trite to be taken seriously, but a few were interesting, including those on Bill Gates and James Baker. I do wish, though, that he had kept to the biographical sketches and left out the last section of the book, which meandered off to discuss other things. ( )
  JBD1 | Jan 4, 2014 |
Most of these pieces were written while Isaacson was an editor with Time magazine. I found most of the pieces well written and was left wanting to know more. I have read his book on Steve Jobs and Benjamin Franklin. Isaacson writes in a clear and precise fashion. I can see that he works very hard to write in the idiom of the day and is not far from his natural oral presentation. I highly recommend him for a quick sense for any topic - he seems to be well balanced and attempts to present the facts minus the ideology or where he does bring in ideology he shows it as such. ( )
  ronsea | Aug 23, 2013 |
I was all ready to give this book five stars. Discussions about the author's choice individuals who influenced history in the 20th century: I learned a lot about Albert Einstein, for example. That's the reason that I got the book in the first place.

However....during the last 20% of the book; the author, a journalist, reverted to his favorite causes. One was how customers should pay for the content in the changing news business--a self licking ice cream cone; in my opinion. I thought that irrelevant to the book's theme. Do that again, Walter Isaacson, and you've lost at least one reader. ( )
  buffalogr | May 14, 2013 |
I had previously enjoyed Walter Isaacson's biography of Ben Franklin, so I was looking forward to reading this one. The format was less biographical and much more of a commentary as Isaacson compiled here a number of past editorials, essays and introductions written about presidents, cabinet secretaries, business executives, scientists, authors and Woody Allen. The Allen piece doesn't really fit in with the rest of he book, and was rather lame.

Isaacson is obviously enamored with Einstein's life, and he draws from his biography of the genius scientist and finishes with his essay for Time magazine naming Einstein the greatest individual of the 20th century.

The pieces on Reagen, Clinton, Kissinger and Nixon were interesting, while those on James Baker, Buffet and Gates were less so for me and at times required real commitment to keep reading.

I do like Isaacson's approach and his general avoidance of taking political shots and relying on his journalist training to just get out the facts. ( )
  bigmoose | Aug 13, 2010 |
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Offers a collection of essays on influential leaders and thinkers, past and present, and the qualities that made them successful, while reflecting on the author's own passage from school to journalist to illustrious biographer.

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