Leadership in War: Essential Lessons from Those Who Made History

Viking. Oct. 2019. 240p. notes. ISBN 9780525522386. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780525522393. HIST
Roberts (research fellow, Hoover Inst.; Churchill: Walking with Destiny) examines major historical war figures, including Napoleon Bonaparte, Horatio Nelson, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, George C. Marshall, Charles de Gaulle, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Margaret Thatcher. In revisiting their lives, the author hopes to find parallel qualities that define success and failure, and through a fairly selective analysis raises a number of commonalties. He lauds Nelson while admitting the admiral’s unpleasant personality. He admires U.S. military leaders Marshall and Eisenhower but saves some of his kindest words for former British Prime Minister Thatcher. Strength, tenacity, morality, education, energy, empathy, must come together to make a great leader, according to Roberts, but they do not and cannot make that leader a winner. The closing essay discusses the necessity for engaging in understanding the phenomenon of war, in order to better counteract its allure.
VERDICT Roberts briefly distills conservative views on what it takes to be a leader, producing an extremely readable, if sometimes simplified, summation of this aspect of military history. For public libraries and larger academic collections.

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