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Certain Trumpets : The Call of Leaders


Garry Wills



0684801388
Retail Price: $14.00
LS Price: $0.00


Availability: Out-of-Print

Format: Paperback, 336pp.
ISBN: 0684801388
Publisher: Touchstone Books
Pub. Date: May 1995

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

In his Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Lincoln at Gettysburg, Garry Wills reframed our understanding of Lincoln the leader. Wills breathed new life into words we thought we knew and revealed much about a President so mythologized but often misunderstood. He showed how Lincoln's personality was less at issue than his followers' values and Lincoln's exquisite ability, in a mere 272 words, to reach them, to give the whole nation "a new birth of freedom," and to weave a spell that has not yet been broken.

Now Wills extends his extraordinary quality of observation and iconoclastic scholarship to examine the nature of leadership itself, perhaps history's most pivotal and emotionally charged topic. Almost the first thing people say about leaders is that we used to have them but now do not. Some blame this on the press, or on television, or on education. Others say we are manipulated, not led. Still others pore over book after book, searching for the perfect exemplar to imitate in order to achieve success. Wills offers a wide range of portraits drawn largely, but not exclusively, from American history and representing revolutionary, political, religious, business, artistic, sports, and military leaders - Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Andrew Young, Napoleon, King David, Ross Perot, George Washington, Socrates, Mary Baker Eddy, Carl Stotz, Martha Graham, Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesare Borgia, and Dorothy Day - each shown in the act of leading his or her followers. And after each example, Wills also provides an anti-type to help define the type better.

He moves beyond the traditional study of elected officials and business giants, past the usual emphasis on glamour, forceful personality, or technique, to look at leaders of different scope and particular talents. Wills shows how leaders are shaped by the very circumstances in which they must shape others' actions. No one, after all, can be a leader without followers.

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Reviews

YA-Students will find food for thought in this volume of essays that attempts to compare and contrast styles of leadership by pairing successful leaders with antitypes. For instance, electoral giant Franklin Roosevelt is paired with Adlai Stevenson; Napoleon with George McClellan (military); Martin Luther King, Jr. with Robert Parris Moses (rhetorical). In every instance, consideration of the interests of followers and the ability to identify with them are deemed vital to the person's success. Roosevelt's experience with polio, for instance, allowed him to empathize with the struggles of ordinary citizens during the Depression. Stevenson, on the other hand, was aloof from the people, expecting his ideas to be enough to garner a following. In some instances, the pairs stretch the credibility of Wills's theory, and readers should be warned that the book is limited in biographical scope. Its narrow focus, however, brilliantly underscores its message.
School Library Lournal, Jackie Gropman, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA


Wills (Lincoln at Gettysburg, LJ 5/1/92) identifies 16 historical figures who fit his definition of a leader-one who motivates others toward a common goal shared by the followers. His subjects include high-profile leaders like Washington, Roosevelt, and Napoleon and less conspicuous individuals like Carl Stotz, Dorothy Day, and Andrew Young. His categories include some curious selections-Eleanor Roosevelt for reform leadership, Socrates for intellectual leadership, and Pope John XXIII for traditional leadership. Wills concludes the section on each type with a brief analysis of an antitype, e.g., Stephen A. Douglas is presented as the antitype to the radical leadership of Harriet Tubman. The author admits that his are not necessarily the greatest or best of leaders; rather, they illustrate distinct kinds of ability. He concludes that whom one admires as a leader is an insight into the inner self. An important book by an important author, this volume is highly recommended for all academic and public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/94.]
Library Journal, Boyd Childress, Auburn Univ. Lib., Ala.


The quality of the essays is as various as their subjects; the chapter on Dorothy Day, the Catholic radical, is the best. The book is equal parts scholasticism, journalism, and self-help--as if Thomas Aquinas had been asked to rewrite The Management Secrets of Attila the Hun for The Atlantic Monthly.
—Richard Brookhiser - National Review


Perhaps no contemporary writer has attended so persistently to the question of leadership in America as Garry Wills. Several of his most important books (Inventing America {BRD 1978, 1979} and Explaining America {BRD 1981, 1982}) have focused on the founders--Jefferson, Hamilton and Madison--who devised the 'mechanism' of the Constitution. . . . And recently Wills won a Pulitzer Prize for {Lincoln at Gettysburg, BRD 1992, 1993}. . . . However, Wills, for a reason with which I cannot fully agree, deems intellectual leadership to be extremely rare. Intellectuals and leaders, he believes, differ in psychological disposition. . . . Wills's latest book and the larger body of his writings exemplify the sort of intellectual leadership sorely lacking in the academy and the church. . . . {He} is a fine essayist in the Renaissance tradition.
—William F. May - The Christian Century


For this unusual study, Wills ( Lincoln at Gettysburg ) has chosen 16 figures who exemplify a distinctive leadership type--for example, military (Napoleon), charismatic (King David), saintly (Catholic worker activist Dorothy Day). Each leader is contrasted with an ``antitype'' who, in Wills's judgment, failed to capitalize on strengths similar to those of his or her successful counterpart. Thus, Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose battle against polio inspired Americans to overcome hardship and war, dwarfs Adlai Stevenson, an idealist who thought ``voters should come to him''; and daring business leader Ross Perot, who welded a lean, mean sales team to launch a computer-service company, outranks General Motors CEO Roger Smith, who closed plants but would not explain his acts before the public. Wills pairs Martha Graham with Madonna, Socrates with Ludwig Wittgenstein, Eleanor Roosevelt with Nancy Reagan in a wise, witty, entertaining look at the psychology of leaders and their followers. One might question how hard some of his antitypes tried to be leaders. As Wills himself admits, ``Madonna is not leading a crusade.'' Illustrated. 75,000 first printing; BOMC, QPB and History Book Club alternates; author tour. (May)
—Publisher's Weekly


 

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About the Author

Garry Wills, one of our most distinguished historians and critics, is the author of numerous books, including Saint Augustine, Papal Sin, and the Pulitzer Prize–winning Lincoln at Gettysburg. He has won many other awards, among them two National Book Critics Circle Awards and the 1998 National Medal for the Humanities. A regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, he is an adjunct professor of history at Northwestern University. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.

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