Start reading A First-Rate Madness on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card
 
 
 

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Color:
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player

 

A First-Rate Madness: Uncovering the Links Between Leadership and Mental Illness [Kindle Edition]

Nassir Ghaemi
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.00
Kindle Price: $12.04
You Save: $4.96 (29%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Whispersync for Voice

Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible narration. Add narration for a reduced price of $3.99 after you buy the Kindle book. Learn More

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $12.04  
Hardcover $19.93  
Paperback $12.67  
MP3 CD, Audiobook, Unabridged $23.72  
Audible Audio Edition, Unabridged $17.95 or Free with Audible 30-day free trial
Kindle Business Book Daily Deal
Today only, James McQuivey's "Digital Disruption" is on sale for only $1.99. Shop now

Book Description

An investigation into the surprisingly deep correlation between mental illness and successful leadership, as seen through the lives of some of the most important political figures in history



In A First-Rate Madness, Nassir Ghaemi, director of the Mood Disorders Program at Tufts Medical Center, offers a myth-shattering exploration of the powerful connections between mood illnesses (depression and bipolar disorder) and leadership. He sets forth a controversial, compelling thesis: the very qualities that mark those with mood disorders—creativity, resilience, empathy, and realism—also make for the best leaders in times of crisis. From the importance of the “depressive realism” and creativity of mentally ill or mentally abnormal figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr., to the lackluster leadership of “mentally normal” men such as Neville Chamberlain, George W. Bush, and Tony Blair, A First-Rate Madness overturns many of our most cherished perceptions about greatness and the mind and provides a unique insight for understanding our current political leaders and presidential candidates going into the next election season.

 

A First-Rate Madness includes profiles of Tony Blair, George W. Bush, Neville Chamberlain, Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, Adolf Hitler, Martin Luther King, Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Richard Nixon, Franklin D. Roosevelt, William Tecumseh Sherman, Ted Turner, among other famous leaders.


Editorial Reviews

Review

“A glistening psychological history, faceted largely by the biographies of eight famous leaders… A First-Rate Madness is carefully plotted and sensibly argued.”
— BOSTON GLOBE

“Ghaemi isn’t the first to claim that madness is a close relative of genius, or even the first to extend the idea into politics.  But he does go further than others… His explanations are elegant, too—intuitively accurate and banked off the latest psychiatric research.”
— NEWSWEEK

“A provocative thesis… Ghaemi’s book deserves high marks for original thinking.” –THE WASHINGTON POST

“Ghaemi is a remarkably disciplined writer, and he examines both psychiatry and history with impressive clarity and sensitivity. A First-Rate Madness will almost certainly be one of the most fascinating books of the year, not just because of the author's lucid prose and undeniable intelligence, but because of his provocative thesis: "For abnormal challenges, abnormal leaders are needed."” --NPR.ORG

“Provocative, fascinating.” –SALON.COM


About the Author

NASSIR GHAEMI is a professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, where he directs the Mood Disorders Program. He trained in psychiatry at, and also serves on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and has degrees in history (BA, George Mason University), philosophy (MA, Tufts), and public health (MPH, Harvard). He has published more than one hundred scientific articles and several books on psychiatry.

Product Details

  • File Size: 556 KB
  • Print Length: 341 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1594202958
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (August 4, 2011)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004IYIUN8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,112 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
175 of 193 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb and insightful...essential reading. August 8, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is the best book I have read all year.
First of all, Dr. Ghaemi is a world-class psychiatrist; he is THE expert on issues of mood disorder (my wife is a psychiatrist and says that Dr. Ghaemi is the very best in the nation in his Continuing Medical Education teaching). So, he truly knows what he is writing about.
The structure of the book essentially follows the pattern of a chapter which describes the state-of-the-art in psychiatry as to a given diagnosis, followed by mini-biographies in two chapters of two historical figures who are exemplars of leadership with the particular diagnosis that Dr. Ghaemi has described. The manner in which he uses historical evidence to arrive at his diagnosis is seamless.
Among the historical figures profiled are Lincoln, General Sherman, Hitler, Gandhi, Churchill, Martin Luther King, Jr., FDR and JFK. There is a profile of Ted Turner, unusual because he is the only living example profiled (and the only non-political leader). Toward the end of the book there is extensive commentary about Nixon, Dubya, Tony Blair and some insights about Clinton, Truman, Eisenhower and even Newt Gingrich along the way.
I have read at least one biography of each figure he profiles (except for Ted Turner). I can vouch for the historical accuracy of Dr. Ghaemi's book in all regards except for two minor points about FDR: he was not a member of Woodrow Wilson's cabinet and he was not Secretary of the Navy (he was #2, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy).
The endnotes are also a magnificent treasure-trove of information.
Superb book, well-written by someone who knows his material.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
76 of 100 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The title will certainly attract readers. This doctor's main thesis really should be at least considered as a pretty good explanation of the actions and behaviors (or lack of same) of some of our leaders, especially under duress. However, we probably should not find ourselves electing only "mentally ill" candidates just so that there will be highly creative and resilient people in the saddle in case a crisis occurs.

From the title alone, the reader may immediately infer that this book is all about the genius of schizophrenic presidents. That's not what the author wants to tell us. Dr. Ghaemi seems to have only one way to define "mental illness": "manic-depression" (or "bipolar disorder", as it's called today). He doesn't really come out at the start and state that it's only bipolar disorder that he will be discussing with regard to certain leaders. But schizophrenia and paranoia do not seem to fit into his analysis. He even states that neurosis is a normal part of the human personality, which came as a surprise to me.

I was ultimately satisfied by Dr. Ghaemi's arguments on the behaviors of the so-called "mentally ill" leaders he singles out as examples. The chapters on JFK and on Hitler and his Nazi entourage are real eye-openers.

But I was shocked by the doctor's arguments regarding Nixon, and by his dismissal of the extensive media and historical commentary, as well as the observations of millions of contemporary TV viewers, about this president's clearly visible mental state. He didn't sell me on this one.

As to the leaders whom Dr. Ghaemi does not select for his category of "mentally ill" -- among them Tony Blair, Truman and Eisenhower -- I agree with his assessment of the first man, but absolutely not the second or third.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
45 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Huge Point, Many Smaller Insights August 28, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
When I am torn between a 4 and a 5 I read all the other reviews. I rate this book a five because it advances appreciation for the integration of psychology with history, and contributes somewhat--not the last word--to the rather vital discussion of why so many of our "leaders" are pedestrian, and what marks those who rise to extraordinary heights in the face of complex near catastrophic challenges.

Those critical of the book for the relatively brevity of the biographic sections, and the occasional mistakes, are in my view missing the huge point that really matters: in a time of extreme complexity and ambiguity, leaders with the most open of minds capable of very unconventional thinking are vital, and it just so happens that what what some call lunatic fringe or borderline personality have "the right stuff" for such times.

I have five pages of notes on this book. Below are some highlights and a few quotes.

The author refers to an inverse law of sanity and early on quotes Sherman as saying "In these times it is hard to say who are sane and who are insane." That is precisely how I feel as I watch Wall Street, Big Oil, the Military-Industrial Complex, and a two-party tyranny with a lame President pretending they have not already driven the Republic over the cliff.

The author's core argument is that in times of crisis, mentally ill leaders do better. While he exaggerates for effect, his essential argument is that "the establishment" produces sterile "well-adjusted" leaders who are best at following convention and staying within their "lanes in the road.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Made Me Think
The author makes a strong argument that mental illness can be an asset in leadership. He looks at various people, like Churchill, Kennedy, Hitler and General Sherman, and posits... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Karl G. Trautman
5.0 out of 5 stars great leisure read.
Awesome book to sit down and read. If you find history interesting and find mental illness as interesting then this is a solid choice for you.
Published 6 days ago by chelseajae
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun despite his thesis being shak
I thoroughly enjoyed his discussions of mental pathology in addition to how he brought the historical figures alive. I could feel Roosevelt' s hyperthymic personality. Read more
Published 9 days ago by kent delay
5.0 out of 5 stars and hyperthymic personalities) are the best leaders during crises
The book explains why mentally ill (depressed, bipolar, and hyperthymic personalities) are the best leaders during crises.
Published 1 month ago by Brennan
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Different Look at some of our World Leaders.
Extremely interesting premise where the author states that those leaders who excelled in crisis were somewhat mental unstable, while those who were considered normal amd were... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine writer
Fluid reading, readable writing. Learned much. Laugh if you'd like but Ghaemi's book here is the first I have read through as a young adult and because of it I have never stopped... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Shay
5.0 out of 5 stars Worth buying, not borrowing.
Very interesting theory.
Published 1 month ago by Professor_mommy
2.0 out of 5 stars Faulty logic..
Two stars for book bringing some lesser known sides of the historical personalities, and as such worthy read for history buff. Read more
Published 1 month ago by boulder_cons
3.0 out of 5 stars A good book
This book was good though I thought the author was trying to diagnose from a far. Could have took a deeper dive into leaders with mental illness during peace time.
Published 2 months ago by James Allen
5.0 out of 5 stars Leadership scholars take heed
I have found myself referring back to this book numerous times, in my own writing and even occasionally in the classroom. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Nathan Harter
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?



Forums

Topic From this Discussion
"...occasional mistakes..." alienate THIS reader
""Those critical of the book for...the occasional mistakes, are in my view missing the huge point that really matters..."
The huge point that really matters is: how many mistakes were made elsewhere (in the thought process, in the selection of leaders to analyze, in the analysis... Read More
Mar 4, 2014 by now what |  See all 2 posts
Have something you'd like to share about this product?
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 


Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for Similar Items by Category