LEADERSHIP IN TURBULENT TIMES/ DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN

Doris Kearn’s Goodwin’s  excellence as a presidential historian makes her eminently qualified for this sweeping analysis of the commonality of the leadership attributes of Lincoln, TR, FDR and LBJ.  LEADERSHIP IN TURBULENT TIMES is an insightful read particularly against the backdrop of the Trump administration.

The book creates a longing for the greatness and generational accomplishments of these historic presidential icons. Goodwin’s perspective derives from years of intimate presidential research that is evidenced so acutely in her writing that you can imagine her knowing all of these them personally. That was specifically the case of Lyndon Johnson.  A side note on LBJ. Goodwin gives him no slack on Vietnam but the utmost of accolades for his leadership on civil rights, voting rights and Medicare.

Even if you have not read Goodwin’s other presidential books you will find that her craftsmanship makes  LEADERSHIP IN TURBULENT TIMES  a complete read. For those who have followed her work the book is even more compelling.

Doris Kearns Goodwin:  Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream, No Ordinary Time, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Team of Rivals, The Bully Pulpit. ( For overviews of the aforementioned search gordonsgoodreads).

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE SOUL OF AMERICA/JON MEACHAM

Jon Meacham has the academic prowess to place complicated issues into perspective through solid historical research.  Meacham has accomplished this once again in his new book THE SOUL OF AMERICA.  He removes a little worry and considerable angst from those who are gravely concerned about Washington, D.C. and President Trump.  This is an important read for all concerned American Citizens.

THE SOUL OF AMERICA is extremely well structured and I have chosen two paragraphs in hopes that I may entice you to read this work.

“Yes, much of the nation’s fate lies in the hands of the president, but the voters have the ultimate authority. The country has to awaken every now and then to the fact that the people are responsible for the government they get. And when they elect a man to the presidency who doesn’t take care of the job, they’ve got nobody to blame but themselves.” ( Harry S. Truman, post presidential notes. ) 

” We have managed , however, to survive the crisis and vicissitudes of history. Our brightest hours are almost never as bright as we like to think; our glummest moments are rarely irredeemable as they feel at the time. How, then, in an hour of anxiety about the future of the country, at a time when a president of the United States appears determined to undermine the rule of law, a free press, and the sense of hope essential to American life, can those with deep concerns about the nation’s future enlist on the side of the angels?”  (Jon Meacham)

After reading the perspective drawn from the pages of the SOUL OF AMERICA, I am betting that our “better angels” will enter the arena and prevail.

ROCKY ROAD TO DUBLIN/ A MEMOIR GORDON HASTINGS

This is a personal Memoir by the editor of Gordon’s Good Reads. Rocky Road To Dublin is now available at Amazon. 

A young boy grows up during period of innocence in the womb of a small Massachusetts town. His bucolic world implodes with the tragic death of his mother opening the pathway to an incredible story of trust and love between a father and son.

This extraordinary dad was neither a captain of industry or master of the universe. He was an unassuming man of modest means and little formal education. He proudly carried his lunch pail every day and dedicated his hard labor and his life to his family. He met the challenge of a family tragedy armed only with his native intelligence, honesty, loyalty and love. He was victorious even in his own death.

The Hastings’s were a typical small town rural nuclear household, mother, father and three children. The father teaches life lessons by his own example. He is intuitive in recognizing his son’s anxieties and panic attacks. Everyday chores become adventures that lay the groundwork for an abiding trust that they will soon rely upon heavily. The 1940s and 1950s in this small neighborly New England community are a time warp but the lessons learned there resonate.

The predictable routine of a secure childhood is dashed by the unexpected sudden death of the boy’s mother when he was eleven. Dad, a factory worker, overnight at age fifty-two is catapulted into becoming a single parent of three children all under sixteen. He must keep his family together knowing that his youngest is the most fragile of all.

Father and son create a life filled with simple yet great truths about dealing with life’s travails. They bring out the best in one-another as a dad dedicates himself to giving his son confidence and encouragement. He gently nudges his boy away from the confines of a small town and into a future of which he once dreamed for himself.

Then it becomes the son’s turn, as he must cope with the tragedy of the father’s untimely illness and death. The wonderful memories of their life together nourished their final hours.

 

 

 

 

LINCOLN IN THE BARDO/ GEORGE SAUNDERS

LINCOLN In The Bardo by George Saunders has been widely acclaimed. His unique approach to writing a novel certainly distinguishes this work.

The Bardo allows for the inclusion of multiple themes, characters and certainly Lincoln and son Willie. Frankly the book did not work for me although I am clearly an exception.  Others call it a “Masterpiece,” “Profound, funny, vital,” “A twenty-first-century Twain.”  I tried, I wanted to get there but couldn’t.

That said, who am I to critique Saunders. Give it a go, and see what you think.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS/MAYA ANGELOU

I came to I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings only recently.

I consider myself fortunate that my tardiness did not preclude this Memoir of Maya Angelou’s adolescence. The openness of the beautifully written narrative is welcoming to the reader. The vivid details of a black child growing up in Arkansas under her grandmother’s loving care is all-encompassing.

Don’t wait. You will thank me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE AGE OF EISENHOWER/WILLIAM HITCHCOCK

I chose THE AGE OF EISENHOWER, a discussion of his presidential years 1952-1960, primarily because of the timeliness of  the comparison of leadership and policy with the present administration. Historian William Hitchcock has  accomplished  a scholarly milestone with this objective retrospective of the nostalgic 1950s and Ike himself.

The  triumphs and failings of the Eisenhower presidential years  are expertly chronicled. However, it is Hitchcock’s insight into Eisenhower’s  presidential leadership style, personality  and his transformation from the military leader of the free world to the presidency, that is most compelling.

We think of the 1950s of a period of peace and prosperity which was true. It was also a decade of international and domestic turmoil including the beginning of the Cold War.The decade also produced the arms race, the missile gap, the U-2 disaster, the Suez Canal crisis and the Castro takeover of Cuba. The Eisenhower years gave us the beginnings of the battle over desegregation of public schools, Little Rock, McCarthyism, Nixon and the creation of the CIA and NASA. How Ike handled and sometimes mishandled these critical developments is given microscopic analysis.

THE AGE OF EISENHOWER is for lovers of  American History. This biography of Eisenhower’s presidency is deserving of its high praise.

LINCOLN AND CHURCHILL/ STATESMEN AT WAR

Historian Lewis Lehrman compares the  leadership of  Winston  Churchill and Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and World War II.  LINCOLN & CHURCHILL STATESMEN AT WAR delves heavily into  comparisons of their respective personalities, management of subordinates, personal habits and military expertise.

Much of  Lehrman’s subject has been well documented by a plethora of historians and the reader will find that the emphasis of this book clearly lies with Churchill. He does draw a very insightful polemic  comparison between Churchill  as wartime Prime Minister and  Lincoln as Commander-in-Chief.  A clear commonality is that both men weaponized  language as a decisive element in their ultimate victories.

Don’t look for descriptions of battles.  This book is about the grand strategy of war and how individual personality and persona influences outcomes.