To illustrate their point, McChrystal and his co-authors, all former US military men, focus on just six Plutarchan pairs ... The pairings are sometimes surprising, bordering on the eccentric ... But their stories, distilled from many longer biographies, are deftly and compellingly told. The book’s call for a redefinition of leadership as a complex, dynamic system—to which leaders, their followers and the context all contribute—is wise, insightful and timely ... McChrystal’s nuanced assessment of modern leadership also offers the most interesting analysis of Trump’s appeal. The 'Great Man' theory persists in part because we have a preference for simple explanations of leadership over the messy, difficult reality of leading, he writes. Supporters of the U.S. president would argue that he has registered economic successes; McChrystal points out leadership is often more about what leaders symbolize than what they achieve.
Compelling ... Sponsored by Vince The biographies are engrossing, with compelling, detail-rich anecdotes that vividly bring the characters off the page ... The inclusion of photos and paintings enhances the storytelling, even if the charisma of such images threatens to distract from the book’s central tenet that circumstances create leadership as much as personal qualities ... The understandable difficulty in narrowing down the core list from hundreds is highlighted, and yet you feel the aim of presenting a diverse representation has been achieved ... Leaders may offer a surfeit of detail on some of the lesser-known characters that will annoy some, but all in all this is an engaging, highly readable work.
France’s President Mitterrand said of [Margaret] Thatcher she had the 'eyes of Caligula and the lips of Marilyn Monroe.' Gen. McChrystal’s pen portraits are rather dry by comparison, but his honesty about the variety of leadership makes his book intellectually rewarding, and never trite.