Leadership in Turbulent Times
by Doris Kearns Goodwin. In our own turbulent times, presidential leadership its qualities, requirements, and outcomes has become an important concern. While presidential historian Goodwin (The Bully Pulpit, 2013) does not address the present situation in this beautifully written meditation on the topic, her assessment of four respected presidents’ abilities as leaders cannot help but contribute to current debates. Goodwin considers Lincoln, both Roosevelts, and Lyndon Johnson, all subjects of her previous work, in a three-part inquiry that begins with discussion of each president’s formative experiences and early public life, moves to a life-altering crisis for each man and its impact on his trajectory, and, finally, focuses on an episode during that man’s time in office that illustrates his particular approach to leadership under difficult conditions. Goodwin offers no single template for presidential leadership, concluding that the successes of these men reflected unique convergences of the individual, his context, and the crisis at hand.