Taking readers from the French Revolution to the Cold War, Roberts looks at nine major figures in modern history: Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charles de Gaulle, Horatio Nelson, Margaret Thatcher, and George Marshall.
... short but fascinating ... As an anthology, Leadership in War offers a fine, if not overly in-depth sampling of wartime leadership to show that successful wartime leadership is a rare commodity. All of these chosen individuals, good and malevolent, show that determination, vision, and a single-mindedness bordering on ruthlessness is needed in trying times. Of course, both Napoleon and Hitler show that ends and means must also be carefully weighed and measured in order to secure a successful conclusion to wars. As a quick introduction to this topic, it is thought-provoking without being overwhelming.
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.
Lincoln’s inclusion would have added welcome depth to this miscellany ... I was often lost as to Roberts’s criteria for a 'great' military leader ... enthusiasm is not enough: [Roberts'] lectures have not translated easily into print. He flits over the surface of history and leaves much unnoticed or unexplained. One would have expected something less subjective and more substantial from the author of the outstanding biographies of Lord Salisbury and Churchill. Anyone seeking to understand the complex alchemy of leadership in war should obtain John Keegan’s brilliant 1987 book The Mask of Command.