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Taking us from the French Revolution to the Cold War, Andrew Roberts presents a bracingly honest and deeply insightful look at nine major figures in modern history: Napoleon Bonaparte, Horatio Nelson, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, George C. Marshall, Charles de Gaulle, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Margaret Thatcher. Each of these leaders fundamentally shaped Taking us from the French Revolution to the Cold War, Andrew Roberts presents a bracingly honest and deeply insightful look at nine major figures in modern history: Napoleon Bonaparte, Horatio Nelson, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, George C. Marshall, Charles de Gaulle, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Margaret Thatcher. Each of these leaders fundamentally shaped the outcome of the war in which their nation was embroiled. Is war leadership unique, or did these leaders have something in common, traits and techniques that transcend time and place and can be applied to the essential nature of conflict? Meticulously researched and compellingly written, Leadership in War presents readers with fresh, complex portraits of leaders who approached war with different tactics and weapons, but with the common goal of success in the face of battle. Both inspiring and cautionary, these portraits offer important lessons on leadership in times of struggle, unease, and discord. With his trademark verve and incisive observation, Roberts reveals the qualities that doom even the most promising leaders to failure, as well as the traits that lead to victory.


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Taking us from the French Revolution to the Cold War, Andrew Roberts presents a bracingly honest and deeply insightful look at nine major figures in modern history: Napoleon Bonaparte, Horatio Nelson, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, George C. Marshall, Charles de Gaulle, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Margaret Thatcher. Each of these leaders fundamentally shaped Taking us from the French Revolution to the Cold War, Andrew Roberts presents a bracingly honest and deeply insightful look at nine major figures in modern history: Napoleon Bonaparte, Horatio Nelson, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, George C. Marshall, Charles de Gaulle, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Margaret Thatcher. Each of these leaders fundamentally shaped the outcome of the war in which their nation was embroiled. Is war leadership unique, or did these leaders have something in common, traits and techniques that transcend time and place and can be applied to the essential nature of conflict? Meticulously researched and compellingly written, Leadership in War presents readers with fresh, complex portraits of leaders who approached war with different tactics and weapons, but with the common goal of success in the face of battle. Both inspiring and cautionary, these portraits offer important lessons on leadership in times of struggle, unease, and discord. With his trademark verve and incisive observation, Roberts reveals the qualities that doom even the most promising leaders to failure, as well as the traits that lead to victory.

30 review for Leadership in War: Essential Lessons from Those Who Made History

  1. 5 out of 5

    Toni

    Clear, focused, and accessible, the book of Andrew Roberts delivers what is promised to its reader: a better understanding of essential qualities outstanding leaders possess. I was fascinated by this book from first pages where the writer argued that leadership is a morally neutral concept (not inherently positive as we are often led to believe) of immense power and potential. In case of at least two of the historic figures discussed by the author this power led to war atrocities and unimaginabl Clear, focused, and accessible, the book of Andrew Roberts delivers what is promised to its reader: a better understanding of essential qualities outstanding leaders possess. I was fascinated by this book from first pages where the writer argued that leadership is a morally neutral concept (not inherently positive as we are often led to believe) of immense power and potential. In case of at least two of the historic figures discussed by the author this power led to war atrocities and unimaginable suffering of millions of people. Step by step, through nine well-chosen examples, we see the traits and behaviours that allow a leader shape an outcome of a historic moment. Thank you to Edelweiss and Viking (Penguin Publishing Group) for the ARC provided in exchange for an onest opinion.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    Interesting historical data, but unimpressed by the leadership lessons he extracted. The final chapter where he deals with the leadership paradigm was disjointed and hard to follow. Otherwise, interesting info.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kupersmith

    I’m genuinely sad not to give a higher ranking to a book by one of today’s best historians, but this collection of brief biographical essays feels tossed off in haste. The subjects are Napoleon, Nelson, Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, De Gaulle, Marshall, Eisenhower, and Thatcher. It’s not clear why they were chosen or how they exemplify different styles of leadership (unlike John Keegan’s choices of Alexander the Great, Lord Wellington and U. S. Grant). Only Napoleon and Nelson actually commanded me I’m genuinely sad not to give a higher ranking to a book by one of today’s best historians, but this collection of brief biographical essays feels tossed off in haste. The subjects are Napoleon, Nelson, Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, De Gaulle, Marshall, Eisenhower, and Thatcher. It’s not clear why they were chosen or how they exemplify different styles of leadership (unlike John Keegan’s choices of Alexander the Great, Lord Wellington and U. S. Grant). Only Napoleon and Nelson actually commanded men in battle. Both Americans, Marshall and Eisenhower, are characterized more for their organizing abilities than their strategic grasp, and the other five were mostly political leaders. (Actually, I wish Roberts had said something of Eisenhower’s political years, especially his betrayal of Britain over Suez and risky decision to rely on nuclear deterrence in place of adequate conventional military forces.) Stalin’s leadership depended on his utter ruthlessness, though his ability to deceive Roosevelt surely deserved discussion. Hitler is found utterly banal, which still leaves us wondering how he ever managed to seize power and hold it. Learning how Napoleon achieved the loyalty and love of his troops was new to me. It’s a gift he shared with Montgomery and Patton, each in a totally different manner. And Nelson’s Tars might fear the lash, but they could count on a steady supply of prize money. Mrs Thatcher’s steadfastness in the face of the Tory ‘wets’ continues to excite my admiration.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Dick

    This was the first book I've read by Mr. Roberts and have gathered that this was a deviation from his normal style of writing. Leadership in War seems to be a 10 session lecture bound in book form. There are 9 leaders that he reviews, with a conclusion at the end. His objectives in each chapter seem clearly laid out: review the body of work that relates to this leadership in war theme by the specific leader chosen and understand the personality and characteristics that directly affect their leade This was the first book I've read by Mr. Roberts and have gathered that this was a deviation from his normal style of writing. Leadership in War seems to be a 10 session lecture bound in book form. There are 9 leaders that he reviews, with a conclusion at the end. His objectives in each chapter seem clearly laid out: review the body of work that relates to this leadership in war theme by the specific leader chosen and understand the personality and characteristics that directly affect their leadership. At the end it takes all of the characteristics and binds into a conclusion at the last chapter. From reading the book, you can tell Roberts is a very well-learned man, and has the credibility to write on these matters. Even in the use of seldom used vocabulary, it is still an enjoyable read. If you are wanting to understand a leader at a very deep level, this is not a book to pick up. If you are wanting to have a quick psychological evaluation of a leader, this is a book to read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    An interesting concept that failed to live up to its dust-jacket promise to satisfactorily answer the basic question "is war leadership unique?" My problem with this book is that it did far too little, then in the conclusion, claimed it did much more. The portraits of the nine leaders were woefully inadequate—how can 20-30 pages be sufficient to capture the essential qualities of Napoleon, Churchill, Marshall, etc?! At best, the chapters offered brief flashes of insight into these historical fig An interesting concept that failed to live up to its dust-jacket promise to satisfactorily answer the basic question "is war leadership unique?" My problem with this book is that it did far too little, then in the conclusion, claimed it did much more. The portraits of the nine leaders were woefully inadequate—how can 20-30 pages be sufficient to capture the essential qualities of Napoleon, Churchill, Marshall, etc?! At best, the chapters offered brief flashes of insight into these historical figures' personalities and contexts (the description of Eisenhower's role as a soldier-turned-statesman, and how his unique qualities allowed him to cross this civ-mil divide was good). But mostly, the minimal space forced the author to skate over complex topics, offering a frustratingly abridged version of each historical moment, and a real dismissal of the actual nuances. I appreciated the reflection on leadership qualities, and certainly agree with the traits posed as essential (humility, compartmentalization, discipline, self-control, empathy, emotional intelligence, stability under pressure). But the book opens by claiming it will demonstrate "how war demands and reveals the best and worst in leadership"—the limited space allows only a cursory exploration of the actual war-time demands in which those qualities are revealed, thus failing to fulfill half of its essential premise.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nathan Albright

    It would be easy, just looking at the people who the author talks about in terms of their historymaking, to misjudge a book like this one.  It should be noted, to be fair to the author, that the author looks at people who he does not necessarily like or approve of and draws lessons that are not necessarily positive.  In discussing war leadership, moreover, the author does not only look at generals and focus on military history but he also looks at political leaders and provides a discussion of t It would be easy, just looking at the people who the author talks about in terms of their historymaking, to misjudge a book like this one.  It should be noted, to be fair to the author, that the author looks at people who he does not necessarily like or approve of and draws lessons that are not necessarily positive.  In discussing war leadership, moreover, the author does not only look at generals and focus on military history but he also looks at political leaders and provides a discussion of their dark arts as well.  The author's longtime interest in how war shapes the demands that are put on leaders and how it is that people can show their leadership in good or bad ways for the sake of the people that they lead makes this book a labor of love, but the book is not quite what many readers would automatically expect of it, and frequently the author finds it necessary to wage into the territory of engaging in discussions about matters like reputation and in interpreting the behavior of leaders through a look at their challenges and a discussion of the diplomatic and logistical concerns involved in leadership as well. This book is a relatively short one at just over 200 pages and it is divided into nine chapters.  The book begins with an introduction that discusses the conundrum of leadership and how it is that people can serve their people for good or ill based on the qualities that they possess and how these are revealed through war and other serious matters.  The author then looks at a series of leaders and seeks to judge their impact and figure out their qualities, being mostly positive on Napoleon Bonaparte (1) and appreciative of the bravery (if not the character) of Horatio Nelson (2) and very praiseworthy about Winston Churchill (3) even if he did not succeed in preserving the British Empire.  The author spends some time talking about the bad side of World War II leadership by giving very critical discussions of Hitler (4) and Stalin (5) before turning his attention again to those leaders whom he finds easier to praise, finding in George Marshall a very praiseworthy amount of personal modesty (6) and seeing Eisenhower (8) as a very diplomatic general whose tact was necessary to deal with the prima donnas that he had to wrestle together for victory.  The author also shows the skill of Charles de Gualle in providing a way for France to recover honor (7) while closing with a chapter on the leadership of Thatcher (9) in the Falklands War, before ending with a look at a leadership paradigm that he views as more generally applicable to war leaders as a whole, before acknowledgements and notes. Overall, this is a solid work. If it is not exactly the last word one would want to read on either political or military leaders in war, and if it is highly skewed towards examples that would be familiar to those who are more fond of 20th century European and American history than I would be, it certainly does show a grasp of the nuance and complexity that is involved in effective leadership and provides a look at how this task has proven to be difficult for a great many people.  The author also wades into the area of how leaders are to be judged as good and evil and how this relates to the effectiveness of leaders and the lessons that we draw from them.  The author judges leaders by pragmatic means, and thus finds those leaders who engaged in the willful slaughter of many of their own people poorly, and also judges Hitler and Stalin as not only being wicked but also being lazy because they did not work as hard as Churchill and others (like FDR) did at motivating the people through powerful speeches and showing an obvious concern for the well-being of their people.  But if Hitler and Stalin had been the sort of people who cared about the well-being of the people they misruled, they would not have been elite tier evil dictators in the first place.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Richard Mounce

    chapter on Hitler was great

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ron Jones

    A good brief summary on some of the world’s famous leaders. It introduced me to some leaders, and enticed me to study more about them.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Justin Matthews

    It's good, not great. More like a collection of vignettes than lessons in leadership. Don't get me wrong: they're insightful, and I like Roberts' work a lot, but it functions more as a collection of brief biographical essays, whose substance was no doubt already at hand from previous work, sandwiched between an intro and conclusion suited for the essays' new purpose. As the reader you have to tease the lessons out for yourself, save for the end when Roberts sums everything up. It's good, not great. More like a collection of vignettes than lessons in leadership. Don't get me wrong: they're insightful, and I like Roberts' work a lot, but it functions more as a collection of brief biographical essays, whose substance was no doubt already at hand from previous work, sandwiched between an intro and conclusion suited for the essays' new purpose. As the reader you have to tease the lessons out for yourself, save for the end when Roberts sums everything up.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michael Lundgren

    Leadership in War was a short, but engaging read and I enjoyed the essays that Roberts put together about some of history's greatest leaders, and by greatest he means those who had a large impact on the world. Roberts took the time to write essays on Napoleon Bonaparte, Horatio Nelson, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, George C. Marshall, Charles De Gaulle, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Margaret Thatcher and examined their leadership during wartime. Some of these leaders exemplified th Leadership in War was a short, but engaging read and I enjoyed the essays that Roberts put together about some of history's greatest leaders, and by greatest he means those who had a large impact on the world. Roberts took the time to write essays on Napoleon Bonaparte, Horatio Nelson, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, George C. Marshall, Charles De Gaulle, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Margaret Thatcher and examined their leadership during wartime. Some of these leaders exemplified the worst parts of humanity, but the majority of them exhibited the greatest parts of it during some of the greatest conflicts the world has known. All of them were big personalities and had moments of arrogance and pride, but many of them also had great moments of selflessness and sacrifice. What struck me most was the strength and calmness that many of them had under immense pressure. What also struck me was the humility in some of them such as George C. Marshall, who turned down the opportunity to be the supreme commander of Allied forces in WWII, understanding that his place needed to be beside FDR and the Joint Chiefs. Or Eisenhower's humility in victory over Nazi Germany and the way that he approached strategy with many commanders who disagreed with him. I was struck by his analysis of Hitler, calling him an unremarkable and terribly mediocre person, a conspiracy theorist and overall bore, who managed to have an intelligent staff who put him into power and kept him there, but without them, he would have never made a dot on the pages of history. I was also fascinated by his analysis of Stalin whom he said had embraced Marxism-Leninism so fully that he only thought of issues in terms of class struggle and was unable to see past his ideology. I was impacted by Napoleon's care for his own soldiers, from the highest-ranking officer to the lowest ranking Private, Napoleon intimately cared about those under his command and their needs. I was inspired by Horatio Nelson's undaunted courage and his ability to inspire his men to face seemingly insurmountable odds with fire in their eyes and iron in their hearts. I was encouraged by Churchill's endless optimism in the face of annihilation and his bullheadedness against his foes. I was put off by De Gaulle's ungratefulness toward the Allies and his arrogance, but I respected his love of country and his desire to preserve their self-esteem and national pride after brutal occupation and I was inspired by Thatcher's courage to do what she knew to be right even when her allies disagreed. Leadership in War is a worthy companion to both military leaders and civilian leaders as it shows us that many of these leadership qualities that we believe to be inherent in some people can, in fact, be learned and implemented in our lives.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Richard Munro

    I finished Robert's book Leadership in War: Essential Lessons from Those Who Made History. My first impression was it reminded me of Churchill himself or Plutarch. Each biographical essay was a little gem. Neither of those great authors or historians could have done better. All the essays, though concise, were highly quotable and presented a fresh analysis. I thought the essay on Thatcher was spot on (she deserves to be included as she was both in foreign affairs and domestic affairs one of the g I finished Robert's book Leadership in War: Essential Lessons from Those Who Made History. My first impression was it reminded me of Churchill himself or Plutarch. Each biographical essay was a little gem. Neither of those great authors or historians could have done better. All the essays, though concise, were highly quotable and presented a fresh analysis. I thought the essay on Thatcher was spot on (she deserves to be included as she was both in foreign affairs and domestic affairs one of the great PMs). I agree with Robert's assessment of Hitler (a “lazy” man) and an ignorant bigot. His only real quality was that of a reckless gambler. He rolled his dice too often and lost. Hitler had no concept of economics at all and made many production mistakes and military mistakes. But as Roberts point out his biggest mistake was his hatred and persecution of the Jews –especially since the Jewish minority in Germany had been so production, successful AND IRONICALLY loyal to Germany. Of course, the essays on Churchill and Napoleon were splendid and informative. I think Roberts is right about Stalin that his whole career was driven by fanatical Marxist-Leninism. Like Hitler he deeply wounded his native land and was profligate with soldiers. Allied Lend-Lease was vital but usually left out in Russian accounts of WWII. Robert's assessment of Ike was accurate also; many contemporary historians don’t like him because of his moderate Republican politics not because of his (let’s face it) distinguished and cool-headed coalition leadership. Roberts is right that George Marshall was one of those “great” Americans whom many forget; of course one has to give some kudos to FDR for Truman and Marshall. Once again, some people don’t like FDR because of his party and his controversial protégés like LBJ. But none of that should detract from his war leadership. I also liked the essay on De Gaulle –his relationship with his disabled daughter was touching and gives us an insight to his high ethos and character. De Gaulle and the French mentality are curious and very interesting. De Gaulle as a French nationalist was desperate to keep up the prestige of France and French culture. I think Roberts is right concerning De Gaulle's overweening pride there was, in fact, an inferiority complex. Wonderful read. Highly recommended. You can read these essays over and over they are so well-done and informative.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Humphrey

    This is the third book I have read by historian Andrew Roberts this year. Roberts has written excellent histories of Winston Churchill and Napoleon. This book is an excellent distillation of leadership principles drawn from the lives of Napoleon Bonaparte, Horacio Nelson, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Margaret Thatcher. Each of these consequential leaders have war in common. Roberts does a masterful job of revealing leadership lesso This is the third book I have read by historian Andrew Roberts this year. Roberts has written excellent histories of Winston Churchill and Napoleon. This book is an excellent distillation of leadership principles drawn from the lives of Napoleon Bonaparte, Horacio Nelson, Winston Churchill, Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Margaret Thatcher. Each of these consequential leaders have war in common. Roberts does a masterful job of revealing leadership lessons from these individuals. This is not a deep history. This book simply hits certain highlights from each person’s life. But Roberts has done a tremendous job in this slim volume of accomplishing what he set out to do. This is an insightful book from a thoughtful author who has written about compelling historical figures who were challenged by the crucible of war. For those reasons, this book is profitable and worthy of your time. Happy reading!

  13. 5 out of 5

    David Becher

    I was a bit disappointed in this book. It is a good review of the leadership styles of a number of major war leaders, although it is rather British centric in the choice of people reviewed. My biggest complaint is that it does not contrast the characteristics of the successful, at least for a time, leaders with those of less successful people. I was left wondering what was really the most important characteristics of a successful war leader. It also did not to my mind address the weaknesses of a I was a bit disappointed in this book. It is a good review of the leadership styles of a number of major war leaders, although it is rather British centric in the choice of people reviewed. My biggest complaint is that it does not contrast the characteristics of the successful, at least for a time, leaders with those of less successful people. I was left wondering what was really the most important characteristics of a successful war leader. It also did not to my mind address the weaknesses of all the leaders profiled. Napoleon for example was a very successful general and national leader for years, but he never learned how to make peace. He fought war after war until inevitably he lost one. He did not leave a lasting empire or have any effect on the long term situation in the world.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Eduardo Xavier

    Leadership in War is about people with an Olympian self-confidence and magic of infusing spirit into others, then "capacity of inspiring losers".This is throwback through Napoleon to Margaret Thachers' time. Andrew Roberts recaps contextual history from great war I and II putting leaders into perspective with resumed observation of their own personal history since childhood, life and actions; influences, greatness and disgrace. As Andrew Roberts is a english man, his work prose tend to elevate t Leadership in War is about people with an Olympian self-confidence and magic of infusing spirit into others, then "capacity of inspiring losers".This is throwback through Napoleon to Margaret Thachers' time. Andrew Roberts recaps contextual history from great war I and II putting leaders into perspective with resumed observation of their own personal history since childhood, life and actions; influences, greatness and disgrace. As Andrew Roberts is a english man, his work prose tend to elevate the importance of the leader of his own country. The way he talks about Hitter, French leaders and etc shows his tendency to downturn their importance. Making the reading boring. Takeaways: - leaders need to be lucky as well as brilliant; have absolute faith in their tribe's being superior to their antagonists (maybe he wanted to say lucky after training) - be calm under pressure - have the discipline and training as central thing - have a strong sense of what motivated people (soldiers and citizens) - "In sense, management is prose, leadership is poetry. The leader necessarily deals to large extend in symbols, in images, and in the sort of galvanizing idea that becomes a force of history. People are persuaded by reason, but moved by emotion". That's way Napoleon designed military clothes to bring importance and even the attention of woman to soldiers. - In general, the leaders mentioned (not in hardcover) created a reputation for invincibility, have strong capacity for propaganda and image creation that could help conquer and enymy surrender even without a fight. - The most dramatic leaders were the ones who break the rules and lead people from the front. Like napoleon who did not simply ignore their opponents, but understand then to heart in order to marvellous strike then. - Their all have strong sense of purpose, was in right context and have the right influencies.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    Drive, determination, charisma, focus, statesmanship. All of these are necessary for good leadership. Right? Well...let's look at the real big 3 (IMHO, and the author's at the end, kinda). 1.) An almost literal photographic memory. A common theme of the leaders here (except maybe for Hitler), they all possessed what seemed to be an unusually higher capacity to remember stuff. This gives people the ability to voraciously consume material, especially by reading, and remembering maps/drawings/plans/ Drive, determination, charisma, focus, statesmanship. All of these are necessary for good leadership. Right? Well...let's look at the real big 3 (IMHO, and the author's at the end, kinda). 1.) An almost literal photographic memory. A common theme of the leaders here (except maybe for Hitler), they all possessed what seemed to be an unusually higher capacity to remember stuff. This gives people the ability to voraciously consume material, especially by reading, and remembering maps/drawings/plans/whatever, which is all faster than watching a video/listening to whatever. When you have a huge pool to pull from, and you pair that with analytic ability, eloquence, and rhetoric (all of which are learned skills) - well, you can see the results. 2.) Luck. If fortune doesn't smile upon you, and you're in the right place at the right time, you wont make a dent in history. 3.) Humility. Counter-intuitive, but the best leaders knew when to grandstand, and knew when to self-depreciate and exercise humility to inspire. Three things in particular struck me through this book: 1.) George Marshall is a man's man, a true hero, a patriot of the highest order, conceding the glory and praise to get the job done. This is humility - this is becoming the greatest by becoming the least among men. 2.) Closely linked to Marshall, the concept that leadership is lonely. General Sir Ian Hamilton called it "the arctic loneliness of command". 3.) Nixon's quotes from his book "Leadership", in defining what it's like: "Leadership is more than technique, though techniques are necessary...In a sense, management is prose; leadership is poetry. The leader necessarily deals to a large extent in symbols, in images, and in the sort of galvanizing idea that becomes a force of history. People are persuaded by reason, but moved by emotion."

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ronald Golden

    I was not too impressed with this book. In my opinion the author delivers a far too cursory view of the subject by presenting each of his highlighted subjects in paragraphs that are too short to adequately cover their leadership traits. I finished each chapter wanting for more detailed analysis of the subject. This was particularly true of the chapter on Winston Churchill. 15 pages is simply not enough to cover someone who is possibly the greatest war leader of the 20th Century. It might be part I was not too impressed with this book. In my opinion the author delivers a far too cursory view of the subject by presenting each of his highlighted subjects in paragraphs that are too short to adequately cover their leadership traits. I finished each chapter wanting for more detailed analysis of the subject. This was particularly true of the chapter on Winston Churchill. 15 pages is simply not enough to cover someone who is possibly the greatest war leader of the 20th Century. It might be partly my fault, as I have done extensive reading on three of the persons highlighted in this book, Churchill, George Marshall and Dwight Eisenhower. I did learn some interesting facts about the other six leaders, but still felt that they were wanting. In the final chapter, the author summarizes the leadership qualities he covered in the first part of the book. However, I felt that even here he did not do a good job. For instance, he talks about the necessity of personal courage in battle as a leadership trait. Then mentions that both Marshall and Eisenhower never had the opportunity to directly lead troops in combat and therefor had no opportunity to demonstrate this kind of personal courage. It leaves the reader saying to his or herself, “Well, which is it, do I need personal courage or not?” The author does not go into enough detail to describe that there are many kinds of courage besides the physical courage of battle. All in all this book needed to be twice as long, in my opinion to adequately cover the subject. It was an enjoyable, but short read. I don’t think I would recommend this book, even to a novice on the subject.

  17. 5 out of 5

    "Cyril' (David

    Interesting book. The author defends De Gaulle, who, in my opinion, was a total arse. Yes, he "redeemed" France from their ignomy, but did they deserve it? And he also slighted not only the Communists, but even the French Underground. After begging to be allowed to be the first in to Paris, and being allowed in (since his unit was not critical), he gave a speech talking about how France was being liberated by France... barely mentioning those who really made it possible. The author also contends Interesting book. The author defends De Gaulle, who, in my opinion, was a total arse. Yes, he "redeemed" France from their ignomy, but did they deserve it? And he also slighted not only the Communists, but even the French Underground. After begging to be allowed to be the first in to Paris, and being allowed in (since his unit was not critical), he gave a speech talking about how France was being liberated by France... barely mentioning those who really made it possible. The author also contends that Hitler was a mediocre person. An interesting take which I am mulling over. My first thought was to like thinking of him as mediocre... but upon reflection that actually might make his accomplishments even more horrifying. Though he had a high IQ the author points to his laziness, the fact that his teachings were derivative, and that he held to zany ideas (believed he could communicate with dogs, thought Czechs were derived from Mongolians, giving as evidence the way their moustaches grow, believed that the UK would unite with Germany in a war against the US, and thought that eating raw potato peelings would cure beri beri in a week). On page 151 he gives the stat that 19 / 4572 people killed on D Day were Free French... and says that was 0.004 percent... actually it is 0.004 as a proportion, but would be 0.4%. a minor mistake, but thought I would point it out. I did thoroughly enjoy many of the other chapters, especially those on Thatcher, Marshall, and Nelson. The chapters are brief and easy reading.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Richard

    I really liked this book. The subtitle is properly descriptive: Essential Lessons from Those Who Made History [as leaders in war] Roberts profiles nine leaders: Napoleon, Nelson, Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, Marshall, de Gaulle, Eisenhower, and Thatcher. He tells the key facts of their wartime leadership and the traits that made them the great leaders they were. (In Hitler's case, a great failure [on many levels]. In Stalin's case, greatly effective through his brutality.) At the end of each chapter I really liked this book. The subtitle is properly descriptive: Essential Lessons from Those Who Made History [as leaders in war] Roberts profiles nine leaders: Napoleon, Nelson, Churchill, Hitler, Stalin, Marshall, de Gaulle, Eisenhower, and Thatcher. He tells the key facts of their wartime leadership and the traits that made them the great leaders they were. (In Hitler's case, a great failure [on many levels]. In Stalin's case, greatly effective through his brutality.) At the end of each chapter, Roberts summarizes the key qualities each leader possessed. Napoleon, for example, has quite a list, including valuing the importance of discipline and training, understanding the psychology of the ordinary soldier to create esprit de corps, controlling the news, deployment of personal charisma, and many more. In a few cases, parallels to our current President Trump are obvious and instructive. Roberts says some of these leaders would likely have embraced Twitter had it been available to them. Roberts makes the point that sometimes the underlying qualities that make the leaders so successful in war may also exhibit as traits most would find unappealing. With Nelson, two such traits were his infidelity and his vanity. Roberts writes, "Nelson the incorrigible show-off was part and parcel of Nelson the victor of Trafalgar." Roberts doesn't make the connection to Trump here, but I do. But this book isn't about Trump. I think he's only mentioned once. It's about leadership and history. Both are covered briefly but well in this very interesting book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bob Mobley

    Andrew Roberts has written a superb collection of essays examining well-known war time leaders, from Napoleon to Margaret Thatcher. Roberts has the skills and the writer’s magic to bring his focused subjects to life in a way that enables the reader to truly connect and relate to each of them, their experiences, choices, successes and failures. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in examining what leadership is all about, and why one individual can be more successful than another as Andrew Roberts has written a superb collection of essays examining well-known war time leaders, from Napoleon to Margaret Thatcher. Roberts has the skills and the writer’s magic to bring his focused subjects to life in a way that enables the reader to truly connect and relate to each of them, their experiences, choices, successes and failures. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in examining what leadership is all about, and why one individual can be more successful than another as a leader. Roberts makes an extremely valuable point throughout his essays, that reading and studying history is one of the hallmarks of successful leaders. The author gives great credence and importance for history being a core part of our educational curriculum and processes. In today’s world and environment, this is a very strong, timely and important message. Roberts also makes the point in a subtle manner that you must look at an individual in their time and place and not try to judge them by values and circumstances of a hundred years later. This contemporary criticism that is so prevalent today about the behaviors of successful men and women in the past is misleading and can be very dishonest. We are all parts and party of our time and place, and this forms major components of our experience, wisdom, and what I like to call, our “Leadership DNA.” This is a wonderful, wonderful book, and I urge those of you interested in understanding what leadership is all about, to get hold of a copy, read it and thoroughly enjoy it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mike Smith

    I learned a lot from this book. This book gave a great historical insight into leaders (a leader being those who can influence who can achieve a common goal) and the tactics they and how they varied. For example, Napoleon took tremendous pride in praising his men and rewarding them for their bravery by like giving them medals, land, money, etc. Churchill came to power in his late age and was prepared for what he achieved which can be attributed to his love for books and history. Another example I learned a lot from this book. This book gave a great historical insight into leaders (a leader being those who can influence who can achieve a common goal) and the tactics they and how they varied. For example, Napoleon took tremendous pride in praising his men and rewarding them for their bravery by like giving them medals, land, money, etc. Churchill came to power in his late age and was prepared for what he achieved which can be attributed to his love for books and history. Another example he used was Hitler. Hitler used his power to instill a fear in people and had the people of Germany rally around the idea of an idea without Jews (CRAZY). His hatred for Jews greatly inhibited his intelligence as Andrew Roberts goes into how he wasn't necessarily a bright man (he wouldn't even acknowledge the accomplishments of Jews throughout history) and because of his power his subordinates didn’t even question him or his conspiracies (which were often just a fallacy). Another example he examined was Stalin. He was literally a menace to society killing everyone who disagreed with him. To George Marshall who LITERALLY made the us armed forces the most dominating military it is today and is forgotten or not given the recognition that he has earned. Overall, I thought this book provided a very historical account of leadership during wartimes.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Morrissey

    Andrew Roberts' "Leadership in War" is a neat romp through nine wartime leaders stretching from the Napoleonic Era to World War II to more modern wars such as the Falklands. The essays on Churchill, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin and others are fascinating short takes on how certain men and women have been able to induce elan within the ranks of the soldiery and the citizenry. While leadership styles are different on a tactical level, Roberts makes the case that certain leadership values are required Andrew Roberts' "Leadership in War" is a neat romp through nine wartime leaders stretching from the Napoleonic Era to World War II to more modern wars such as the Falklands. The essays on Churchill, Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin and others are fascinating short takes on how certain men and women have been able to induce elan within the ranks of the soldiery and the citizenry. While leadership styles are different on a tactical level, Roberts makes the case that certain leadership values are required to be successful in war. The dichotomy between Churchill and Hitler is quite striking, as just one example: Hitler comes across as an absolute mediocrity, lazybones, and extreme introvert unable to empathize with his population; Churchill is the ultimate un-mediocrity, a worldwide adventurer suffused with a boundless energy and able to stir the hopes and dreams of his fellow citizens even in the darkest days of the Blitz. Here we find the difference between a great manager and a great leader. Leaders can organize armies, assemble materiel, and then spirit that mass towards a shared objective. For whatever wars come to define the 21st Century, it is likely that leaders possessing that empathy and elan will win the day.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michael McCormick

    What a joy it is to read books by Andrew Roberts. All of his chapters on different leaders during war were great, but I was brought to tears by his chapter on Margaret Thatcher, perhaps because I was alive during the UK's Falklands War. I studied in the UK, in London, at the University of Notre Dame's London Programme, in the Fall of 1987, and I remember my professors recounting what it was like to be a UK citizen in London during the Falklands War. How wonderful to know that a junior officer on What a joy it is to read books by Andrew Roberts. All of his chapters on different leaders during war were great, but I was brought to tears by his chapter on Margaret Thatcher, perhaps because I was alive during the UK's Falklands War. I studied in the UK, in London, at the University of Notre Dame's London Programme, in the Fall of 1987, and I remember my professors recounting what it was like to be a UK citizen in London during the Falklands War. How wonderful to know that a junior officer on a stricken HMS ship led the survivors waiting to be rescued in the Monty Python song, "Always Look On the Bright Side of Life." I can relate! I know that song! What a great read this was: short, compact and hard hitting. I turn next to a recent copy of "National Review," to Andrew Roberts's article, "Why We Must Teach Western Civilization." Everyday, it seems like, I appreciate him more and more.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Wayne

    I picked this book up while browsing through Barnes & Noble. This seemed like a book right up my ally: history, biography, and leadership all rolled into one. While I enjoyed the book, overall I thought it was simply okay. The book is a collection of nine mini-biographies of great wartime leaders, ranging from the one-eyed, one-leg Admiral Nelson to to the failed seminarian Joseph Stalin to the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher. The biographies are interesting and well written but necessarily skim th I picked this book up while browsing through Barnes & Noble. This seemed like a book right up my ally: history, biography, and leadership all rolled into one. While I enjoyed the book, overall I thought it was simply okay. The book is a collection of nine mini-biographies of great wartime leaders, ranging from the one-eyed, one-leg Admiral Nelson to to the failed seminarian Joseph Stalin to the Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher. The biographies are interesting and well written but necessarily skim the surface of these great figures in history. There are interesting anecdotes and a few leadership lessons along the way. Overall, I was most disappointed by the shallowness of analysis regarding leadership. I did not think the biographies did enough to explore leadership lessons that they presented nor did I think the closing analysis offered enough insight.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Chris Miller

    This was a disappointing read for me. It is very uneven in its coverage and is very subjective. Some of this may be due to the nature of the background. The vignettes were designed as lectures and then collected as a book, and so some of the critical evaluations may have been lost. However, I would expect better editing for a $27 book. Mr. Roberts begins with Napoleon and Nelson, establishing leadership principles that aid in comparison. As soon as he gets to Hitler and Stalin, it seems to me th This was a disappointing read for me. It is very uneven in its coverage and is very subjective. Some of this may be due to the nature of the background. The vignettes were designed as lectures and then collected as a book, and so some of the critical evaluations may have been lost. However, I would expect better editing for a $27 book. Mr. Roberts begins with Napoleon and Nelson, establishing leadership principles that aid in comparison. As soon as he gets to Hitler and Stalin, it seems to me that he goes for the, "Oh, gosh," factor, and snidely notes that one is lazy and the other a hardcore ideologue. The other five fit in somewhere between these parameters. I understand that these are his opinions, but he did not convince me with his 'arguments.' (What there were of them). Make that 1 1/2 stars.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Very well done; reads easily; learned about Napoleon and Horatio Nelson; filled in my knowledge of the others. Be sure to read the concluding chapter: The Leadership Paradigm. Says a lot clearly and in few words. "If there is one quality that all the great war leaders possessed, it is that which the earl of St. Vincent ascribed to Horatio Nelson. St. Vin did not much like his fellow admiral personally, but he readily admitted that Nelson 'possessed the magic art of infusing his own spirit into o Very well done; reads easily; learned about Napoleon and Horatio Nelson; filled in my knowledge of the others. Be sure to read the concluding chapter: The Leadership Paradigm. Says a lot clearly and in few words. "If there is one quality that all the great war leaders possessed, it is that which the earl of St. Vincent ascribed to Horatio Nelson. St. Vin did not much like his fellow admiral personally, but he readily admitted that Nelson 'possessed the magic art of infusing his own spirit into others,.' "Great leaders are able to make soldiers and civilians believe that they are part of a purpose that matters more than even their continued existence on the planet, and that their leader's spirit is infused into them.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Peggy

    Interesting group of essays, one dedicated to each of several leaders during various wars. Some essays are better than others. Although the author wrote an entire biography of Winston Churchill, I found that chapter oddly uninformative. Perhaps because I had come across more on Churchill in other readings I've done. I enjoyed the chapters on Napoleon and Nelson greatly. The author's disdain for Hitler as a leader is palpable. Overall, I found the book enjoyable and readable. And I agree the book Interesting group of essays, one dedicated to each of several leaders during various wars. Some essays are better than others. Although the author wrote an entire biography of Winston Churchill, I found that chapter oddly uninformative. Perhaps because I had come across more on Churchill in other readings I've done. I enjoyed the chapters on Napoleon and Nelson greatly. The author's disdain for Hitler as a leader is palpable. Overall, I found the book enjoyable and readable. And I agree the book is on what characteristics allowed persons outlined to be leaders, not necessarily whether they were morally correct. Worth the read, but if you want in-depth biographies, choose something with more pages per subject.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Wolgemuth

    A good-not-great book that feels too quick and superficial. It's certainly valuable and interesting, and Roberts recounts significant historical events with aplomb when he grants time to dive into details of the various leaders' lives, but a single chapter for the likes of all of these notable war leaders is more than a touch too slim. Even so, there's wisdom in learning from history, and Roberts' account provides insights and lessons. And the reader is also reminded that history doesn't provide A good-not-great book that feels too quick and superficial. It's certainly valuable and interesting, and Roberts recounts significant historical events with aplomb when he grants time to dive into details of the various leaders' lives, but a single chapter for the likes of all of these notable war leaders is more than a touch too slim. Even so, there's wisdom in learning from history, and Roberts' account provides insights and lessons. And the reader is also reminded that history doesn't provide a formula for success; all sorts of people have led in all sorts of different ways. Additionally—as Roberts' chapters about Hitler and Stalin observe—leadership successes may occur completely bereft of morality.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Daniel Minister

    Was disappointed by this book. Andrew Roberts is a great historian and I look forward to each book he brings out but so glad I didn’t pay full price for this. The case studies are varied and interesting but apart from giving a brief synopsis of their lives, doesn’t really add much. Just a another generic book on Leadership, which is getting abit boring now. Reminded me of the public school system, looks good on paper but after ten minutes in their company you ask for the school fees back. As not Was disappointed by this book. Andrew Roberts is a great historian and I look forward to each book he brings out but so glad I didn’t pay full price for this. The case studies are varied and interesting but apart from giving a brief synopsis of their lives, doesn’t really add much. Just a another generic book on Leadership, which is getting abit boring now. Reminded me of the public school system, looks good on paper but after ten minutes in their company you ask for the school fees back. As not really up to scratch. In all worth a read if given to you but if more than a few quid buy some magic beans as probably get a better experience from them.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Scott Wozniak

    This was a very brief biography of several leaders, with a very brief summary of what they shared--which turned out to be very little. Some were witty and some had no sense of humor. Some were close to the common people and some were distant aristocrats. What little principles were drawn from them were generic/unoriginal. And the leaders selected were from a narrow band of history (20th century western leaders, except for Napoleon, who was 19th century western). Adding more diverse options would This was a very brief biography of several leaders, with a very brief summary of what they shared--which turned out to be very little. Some were witty and some had no sense of humor. Some were close to the common people and some were distant aristocrats. What little principles were drawn from them were generic/unoriginal. And the leaders selected were from a narrow band of history (20th century western leaders, except for Napoleon, who was 19th century western). Adding more diverse options would have helped (e.g. Lincoln or Ghengis Khan) and having more meat in the lessons at the end would have saved this book. But neither happened, so it's not worth your reading it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Frank Minich

    The book was very good, but somehow I feel like it should have come up with a list of qualities or lessons and shown how each of the featured war fighters did or did not exemplify those. So, I guess what was missing as far as I am concerned is a concise list of the "Essential Lessons". The book was more of a collection of sketches of the wartime exploits/behavior of nine military or civilian leaders; not that this was bad, but why these nine? For example, why not U.S. Grant? Why not Lincoln? The book was very good, but somehow I feel like it should have come up with a list of qualities or lessons and shown how each of the featured war fighters did or did not exemplify those. So, I guess what was missing as far as I am concerned is a concise list of the "Essential Lessons". The book was more of a collection of sketches of the wartime exploits/behavior of nine military or civilian leaders; not that this was bad, but why these nine? For example, why not U.S. Grant? Why not Lincoln?

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