Summary of Leadership in Turbulent Times

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  • Comprehensive
  • Engaging
  • Inspiring


Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin has spent decades chronicling four consequential US presidents – Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson. Here, she details the personalities, skills and character traits – innate and developed – that set them apart. Goodwin identifies common characteristics, perhaps inherited, but undoubtedly nurtured. Her record of how each man matured will help any aspiring or current leader understand what greatness demands. She explains that worthy leaders achieve greatness less from cognitive or physical gifts than through their own grit and determination. Goodwin chronicles each man’s journey toward learning that empathy and skill in working with people must accompany reason and intellect. Her moving stories about these presidents will grip your attention as she wields her expertise in history, psychology and leadership. 

About the Author

Doris Kearns Goodwin teaches history at Harvard, with a primary focus on the lives and careers of Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson.



The Formative Years

Though vastly different, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson shared many things in common. Each possessed surpassing intelligence and resilience. All sensed their destiny early in life.

  • Lincoln – Lincoln’s intelligence and photographic memory inspired ambition beyond his humble origins. He nurtured his oratory skills and ability to explain complicated matters with simplification and stories. When he was a boy, Lincoln’s height, strength and athleticism gained him respect. He endeared himself to people though generosity, kindness, and a curious and sociable demeanor. But he believed his memory and skills were a function of hard and persistent work, not gifts. Lincoln had little formal education; his overbearing, sometimes abusive father believed it was a waste. Lincoln taught himself by reading widely to feed his curiosity. He seems to have been born with unusual compassion and amiability, for example, refusing to harm animals despite his frontier upbringing. Despite setbacks, Lincoln built humble self-confidence. Before he...

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    C. B. 6 months ago
    Nice. Saved me time from reading the book
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    M. D. 1 year ago
    A well written summary showing the connections among the lives of these great Presidents.