“Leadership in Turbulent Times” by Doris Kearns Goodwin is an examination of four presidents who took office in times of crisis - Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.
Kearns can bring the real essence of the times and the men to life in a novelistic read. She has done this in her many books and that is a prime reason she is a vital historian for today and forever.
Lincoln had the Civil War, FDR had the depression and WWII, Teddy Roosevelt took office after an assassination and met massive national financial issues, and LBJ dealt with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, civil rights and Viet Nam.
What were the histories of each president that brought them to the office and how did they respond to major historical issues laid at their doorstep?
Kearns has spent a lifetime researching each of these presidents and has written about them individually. This work tries to go a step further and seek a commonality among these men that might evidence how they reacted to their times.
As you might surmise, and as Goodwin writes, “There was no single path that four young men of different background, ability and temperament followed to the leadership of the country.”
It is in the sorting out of the traits of each that gives this work standing.
With the triumphs come the depths of errors when viewed in hindsight. Particularly striking are the errors that each president recognized even when they were occurring, like Johnson and the Viet Nam War.
In a review of the book in the New York Times, David Greenberg (a professor of history, journalism and media studies at Rutgers University) said:
”... we can benefit from reminders that even flawed mortals can, in times of national emergency, achieve great things. We can only hope that a few of Goodwin’s many readers will find in her subjects’ examples a margin of inspiration and a resolve to steer the country to a better place.”
“It is a curious thing, Harry, but perhaps those who are best suited to power are those who have never sought it. Those who, like you, have leadership thrust upon them, and take up the mantle because they must, and find to their own surprise that they wear it well.” ― J.K. Rowling, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”
Gary Thorne is the play-by-play voice of the Orioles on MASN, and the 2019 season is his 13th with the club and 34th covering Major League Baseball. His blog will appear regularly throughout the season. The Orioles and Sarasota County, for the 8th consecutive year, have partnered on the Big League Reader Program, which rewarded kids who read three books in February with tickets to a Grapefruit League game at Ed Smith Stadium in March.
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