Previously Read Books

November 2020

Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Are leaders born or made? Where does ambition come from? How does adversity affect the growth of leadership? Does the leader make the times or do the times make the leader?

 

In Leadership, Goodwin draws upon the four presidents she has studied most closely - Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson (in civil rights) - to show how they recognized leadership qualities within themselves and were recognized as leaders by others. By looking back to their first entries into public life, we encounter them at a time when their paths were filled with confusion, fear, and hope.

 

Leadership tells the story of how they all collided with dramatic reversals that disrupted their lives and threatened to shatter forever their ambitions. Nonetheless, they all emerged fitted to confront the contours and dilemmas of their times.

 

No common pattern describes the trajectory of leadership. Although set apart in background, abilities, and temperament, these men shared a fierce ambition and a deep-seated resilience that enabled them to surmount uncommon hardships. At their best, all four were guided by a sense of moral purpose.

At moments of great challenge, they were able to summon their talents to enlarge the opportunities and lives of others.

October 2020

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

One hundred thousand years ago, at least six human species inhabited the earth. Today there is just one. Us. Homo sapiens. How did our species succeed in the battle for dominance? Why did our foraging ancestors come together to create cities and kingdoms? How did we come to believe in gods, nations, and human rights; to trust money, books, and laws; and to be enslaved by bureaucracy, timetables, and consumerism? And what will our world be like in the millennia to come?

 

In Sapiens, Professor Yuval Noah Harari spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical - and sometimes devastating - breakthroughs of the cognitive, agricultural, and scientific revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology, and economics, and incorporating full-color illustrations throughout the text, Harari explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behavior from the legacy of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come?

 

Bold, wide-ranging, and provocative, Sapiens integrates history and science to challenge everything we thought we knew about being human: our thoughts, our actions, our heritage ... and our future.