Leadership Summary

The New York Times bestselling book about the early development, growth, and exercise of leadership from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin “should help us raise our expectations of our national leaders, our country, and ourselves” (The Washington Post).

“After five decades of magisterial output, Doris Kearns Goodwin leads the league of presidential historians” (USA TODAY). In her “inspiring” (The Christian Science Monitor) Leadership, 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.

Leadershiptells the story of how 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. 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. Does the leader make the times or do the times make the leader?

“If ever our nation needed a short course on presidential leadership, it is now” (The Seattle Times). This seminal work provides an accessible and essential road map for aspiring and established leaders in every field. In today’s polarized world, these stories of authentic leadership in times of apprehension and fracture take on a singular urgency. “Goodwin’s volume deserves much praise—it is insightful, readable, compelling: Her book arrives just in time” (The Boston Globe).

Book Reviews


A Must Read5 star

Seriously one of the best books I’ve ever read. I loved seeing our Presidents through the eyes of leadership, more than just what they did. She not only knows these Presidents incredibly well and writes expertly, but she makes you think about leadership long after you’ve read her work. She’s my new favorite author.55


Leadership5 star

One of the best books on history and leadership I have read in a long time. Just bought additional copies to give to each Executive Director of all boards with which I am involved. A thoroughly enjoyable and memorable read.55


Fantastic read!!5 star

Absolutely love this book!! Goodwin delves into the lives of four U.S. presidents and illustrates their human qualities thus making them relatable. However, she also lists their innate leadership qualities and highlights what made them different from those around them! The book is in three sections. The first section outlines their coming of age and discovery of leadership attributes in their lives. She also makes interesting comparisons and contrasts throughout, showing how each character read was molded for their leadership role. The second section describes the adversity each president had gone through and their ability to endure through their trails. And lastly, the third section highlights the apex of their presidency and what they are most remembered for.. you won’t be able to put it down!!55

That's not

Leadership in Turbulent Times5 star

As the proud husband of a School Board Trustee, I am reminded how important our history is. Thank you for another of your many stories of Americans whose greatest achievements were to make the lives of all Americans better. Respectfully yours, Tom Garvey55


Wasted my money1 star

DKG must need some money. This book is just a rehash of her writings and others put in a different format. Good if you know little to nothing of these four presidents. I'm no historian but I recognized these life's and times of these four. Should have written about Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, Obama and what's his name.15

Nicholas A Beaird

An incredible read1 star

For any leader, management enthusiast, or lover of history this book is worth the read. One of the better books I have read in regards to gleaning the pivotal moments in these Presidents’ lives that shaped their character, leadership ability, and lasting effect left during and after they were gone.15


great book!5 star

she explores timeless leadership qualities and soft skills like empathy, resilience and EQ. perhaps counterintuitively she persuasively argues that vulnerability is the fundamental building block of a strong leader.55

Other Books by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Team of Rivals


Team of Rivals
4.5     631
The Bully Pulpit


The Bully Pulpit
3.5     338
No Ordinary Time


No Ordinary Time
4.5     170

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