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American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 24, 2009
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Anything but a dewy-eyed idealist (he jokes that his fellow liberals "are congenitally more comfortable humming the theme of All Things Considered than the theme of Crossfire"), Isaacson is insistent that liberal values, such as the free exchange of ideas, pluralism and rational, evidence-based decision making, are crucial to America's well-being. Above all, he concludes that "the need to calibrate a proper balance among opposing principles is evident in every issue we face today, from abortion to health-care reform to affirmative action."
A sizable cross section of the book is devoted to writings on his three biographical subjects, each subtly disclosing a different aspect of this worldview. He lauds Benjamin Franklin as a paragon of the American virtue of compromise, even going so far as to find a healthy dose of that quality embodied in our current president.Read more ›
This book is a collection of first rate essays and articles covering an array of American political and creative leaders as well as some thoughts on journalism and its future. The essays were written over a span of several decades, so in addition to the actual essays, each contains a foreword by the author to put it into current perspective.
All of the essays are good, but some are more interesting than others. Isaacson is clearly infatuated with Einstein, so Einstein gets more than his share of coverage in this collection. Very interesting and deserving material though.
My favorite was the piece on Bill Gates. Longer than most, it gives the reader a real feel for who Gates is and how he is wired. The essay addresses his many incredible strengths as well as some of his flaws. The eulogy for George Plimpton was also especially good.
I was particularly interested in the book's introduction in which the author explains his own background and how he got from New Orleans to Harvard to the editorship of Time and Chairmanship of CNN. Good stuff!!
The people he examines include Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Bill Clinton, John Adams, Henry Kissinger, Bill Gates, Colin Powell, Ronald Reagan, George Plimpton, and many others. Asides about Walker Percy, Gorbachev, Henry Grunwald, and different political figures add to an already fascinating book, a book that demonstrates the power of American ingenuity, tenacity, and intellect. Each essay contains a pearl of wisdom blended with great perception and historical information on the person being discussed. This makes for a reading experience that feels like relaxed story-telling but is inadvertently and vastly educational. Since it is all factual and biographical, American Sketches is a study in personal excellence, charisma, and individual charm. As the book comes to a close, we read an inspiring series of articles on Louisiana and its commitment to overcoming the tragedy of Katrina. One of most entertaining chapters is the transcript of the Woody Allen interview.
The writing style is journalistic by experienced editor and author Walter Isaacson, a master of the genre and an ideal choice for a book of this type.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very insightful. Most enlightening to have a better understanding of the individual thinking and values that went into global policy decision making.Published 9 months ago by Bud Ovrom
Other than his lunatic, optimistic views on President Obama (as of 2009), the writings of Walter Isaacson on some of the great figures of 20th Century history are very interesting. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Zechristof
I have read Walter Isaacson's biographies on Einstein, Benjamin Franklin and Steve Jobs and have enjoyed each one immensely. Read morePublished 16 months ago by M.M.K.
I was hoping for some facts and objective insights into the minds/lives of the people 'sketched' in this book. Instead I got bias and opinion. Mr. Read morePublished 17 months ago by PJB243