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Sunday, September 1, 2019

LEADERSHIP: IN TURBULENT TIMES (audiobook) by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Published in 2018 by Simon and Schuster Audio
Read by Beau Bridges. David Morse, Richard Thomas, Jay O. Sanders and the author.
Duration: 18 hours, 5 minutes.
The author, Doris Kearns Goodwin

Doris Kearns Goodwin often is labeled with the title "presidential historian" and, really, that is a pretty accurate term for her. As a young historian, she worked personally with Lyndon Johnson on his presidential memoirs. She has written about both Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Her book Team of Rivals is a modern classic and has redefined the popular image of the Lincoln administration.

In this book, she looks at various qualities of leadership that each of these very different men exhibited. She begins with interesting pre-presidential biographies of each of these men. She focuses on Lincoln's expressed desire to become a person that was worthy of the esteem of his community. Theodore Roosevelt's ceaseless energy and desire to experience new things led him to meet all sorts of people and learn about their concerns. FDR's efforts to recover from polio were above and beyond. Also, she focuses on his habit of hiding his own problems from the people around him. LBJ's relentless push to put connect himself to people in power is interesting - a road map to power, if you will. But, it is not particularly inspiring (that comes later on for LBJ).

If the book were just those early biographies, it would be an impressive book. But, it goes on to look at an individual theme (in the case of Theodore Roosevelt, a single crisis) that developed in each man's presidency.

With Lincoln, the theme is the end of slavery. With Theodore Roosevelt, the crisis is a national coal strike (May - October 1902) that threatened to literally freeze millions of people. With FDR, the crisis is the Great Depression and his willingness to try and discard and try again in order to alleviate the suffering. For LBJ, the focus is on his push to pass Civil Rights legislation in wake of President Kennedy's assassination and the political cost he suffered in doing so. She also comments on the Vietnam War being the tragic result of his singular focus on domestic policy.

She identifies individual leadership lessons as she goes along. I have no idea how many there are because I listened to it as an audiobook and was not able to write them down as I went along.

Speaking of the audiobook version, this audiobook is read by five different readers. The author reads the opening and closing. The sections on the Presidents are each read by a different award-winning actor. Beau Bridges was absolutely excellent as the reader for the LBJ section. I wish he'd read more audiobooks.

I rate this audiobook 5 stars out of 5. It can be found on Amazon.com here: LEADERSHIP: IN TURBULENT TIMES by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

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