CHOSEN BY BILL GATES AS A BOOK OF THE YEAR 2016
Archie Brown challenges the widespread belief that ‘strong leaders’, dominant individual wielders of power, are the most successful and admirable.
Within authoritarian regimes, a collective leadership is a lesser evil compared with a personal dictatorship. Within democracies, although ‘strong leaders’ are seldom as strong or independent as they purport to be, the idea that just one person is entitled to take the big decisions is harmful and should be resisted.
Examining Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mikhail Gorbachev, Deng Xiaoping and Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair amongst many others, this landmark study pinpoints different types and qualities of leadership. Overturning the popular notion of the strong leader, it makes us rethink preconceptions about what it means to lead.
“…an important and unusual read … Brown does a wonderful job of showing how the same qualities that can seem so appealing in strong leaders can lead, in the mildest cases, to bad decision– and, in the most extreme cases, to death and suffering on a massive scale … Though The Myth of the Strong Leader is about political leadership, you come away from Brown’s book with a deeper understanding of leadership in general.”―Bill Gates’ Favorite Books of 2016
“Counter-intuitive but splendidly argued … This is an ambitious work made more compelling by its breadth.”―Washington Post
“Rich and multidimensional.”―Foreign Affairs
“It is a pleasure to find a book on political leadership that imposes no theories or models but studies actual political leaders, dozens of them from many countries, in a historical survey from the beginning of the 20th century.”―Wall Street Journal
“A rich description of different varieties of political leadership in diverse cultures. It is hard to imagine a better guide than Brown, who has lived and worked in the UK, US and Russia, and is both an outstanding political scholar and an elegant, witty writer.”―Guardian (UK)
“Persuasive analysis of politically leadership.”―Independent (UK)
“Impressive in scope and sophistication, Brown offers a model of leadership that is both strong and purpose driven.”―Choice
“A sure-handed historical review with an engaging viewpoint.”―Kirkus
“Rich in historical detail and insight.”―Publishers Weekly
“Brown raises important questions about the nature of leadership and the expectations we have for our leaders.”―Booklist
About the Author
Archie Brown is a British political scientist and historian. He is Emeritus Professor of Politics at Oxford University and Emeritus Fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford. A Fellow of the British Academy since 1991, Professor Brown was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003. He has written widely on Soviet and Communist politics, the Cold War, and political leadership.