Book Reviews

Book Review: The Myth of the Strong Leader


The author, professor emeritus of politics at the University of Oxford, examines in this outstanding book the leadership styles of several political leaders including dictators, and democratic politicians.

He argues that the success or failure of political leaders cannot be judged according to formula as circumstances change, and there are different dimensions to political leadership effectiveness.

The author makes an important distinction between redefining leader (i.e Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Margaret Thatcher) and transformational leaders who play roles in systematic change

( i.e M Gorbachev, Deng Xiaoping, Nelson Mandela).

Historically, leaders who make decisions themselves have time and again proven to be poor judges of political evolution.

According to those who worked closely with Tony Blair made the poorest decisions of his political career as prime minister when he ignored his ministers’ suggestions and council.

From F.D Roosevelt to J Stalin, Khrushchev, A. Hitler, Mao Zhedong, and many other influential leaders who have wielded power across the globe, each achieved varying levels of success and failure.

Some influenced their constituents in profound ways, and left an indelible mark on their countries’ histories, and evolution.

Leaders must try to influence their ministers and listen to their suggestions or thoughts about evolving political drama.

The best leader says a Chinese wise man is the one who is barely visible but guides his followers from behind by influencing them.

The author discusses 20th century British polticial eladers at length, but Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and several more modern Chinese leaders including Deng Xiaoping are discussed and analysed.

Several important American political leaders are also prominently discussed.

The writing is clear, concise, entertaining and illuminating.

This is a book for all politicians, and leaders of organizations and presidents of companies to read and use a reference.

A true winner.

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