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Greatness: Reagan, Churchill, and the Making of Extraordinary Leaders Hardcover – October 4, 2005

4.2 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ronald Reagan was just a B-list actor when Winston Churchill assumed control over Europe's fate. Even as president, Reagan remained at heart a California rancher with Midwestern roots, while Churchill was a British aristocrat groomed for the political stage from a young age. Despite these obvious differences, American Enterprise Institute fellow Hayward (The Age of Reagan; Churchill on Leadership) argues that the two icons possessed the same essential ingredients for the making of political greatness: boundless vision and imagination; a capacity for strength and optimism, even humor, in the face of crisis; an iron will; and a denunciation of evil, embodied most famously in Churchill's Iron Curtain speech and Reagan's "evil empire" and "tear down this wall" counterparts. While the two were essentially conservative figures, Hayward's analysis is not innately political but is, rather, marked by balanced insightfulness. Finally, the author argues, with an optimism worthy of his subjects, that political greatness in the 21st century—an ostensible oxymoron at times—is not only necessary but possible. This is a useful primer for students of political science, not to mention politicians, in the essential qualities of truly great leaders. (Oct. 11)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Hayward compares and contrasts two stalwarts of conservatives' twentieth-century pantheon. Sympathetic to Reaganism, Hayward finds similarities between Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan and strives to generalize them as generic attributes of political greatness. Perhaps that will expand his audience; in any case, admirers of his two subjects will be reinforced in their views by Hayward's observations. These typically reflect off the criticisms made of Churchill and Reagan by contemporaries, such as their fear of wielding power. This attitude was not the preserve of socialist or liberal opponents but existed in the men's own parties. Consequently, both men experienced a "wilderness" period before events moved toward their way of thinking, a validation in their own minds, in Hayward's argument, that providence had marked them for a special historical mission. Imagination was also behind their conservatism, which was instinctual rather than intellectual, Reagan characteristically explaining his policies anecdotally. Concluding with their repugnance for the Soviet system--which each believed, against the grain of realpolitik, was destined for collapse--Hayward's essay previews his forthcoming history of the Reagan presidency. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Forum (October 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030723715X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307237156
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,429,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a great examination of two superb leaders. Hayward has the ability to combine scholarly depth with a light wit that makes for great reading. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in understand what makes a great leader.
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Format: Hardcover
I am a Democrat who voted against Reagan in 1980, but for him in 1984. I'm still a Democrat but I've never seen a leader like him in my lifetime. The comparisons to Churchill are apt. I place FDR in the same light as a leader, even though he and Reagan had very different philosophies as to the role of the government as nanny. As I see it now, Churchill and FDR won WWII. Reagan, with help from the Pope and others, won WWIII - the Cold War. I know that many in my party cannot accept that the GOP holds claim to a man of greatness, but it cannot be denied.
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Format: Hardcover
I've been saying for many years now that the only two men of the Twentieth Century who qualify as "eternal heroes" are Ronald Reagan and Sir Winston Churchill. Imagine my glee upon discovering that Steven Hayward has taken the time to compare these two epic figures in his new book, Greatness. What is offered here is a lengthy essay considering just how similar these seemingly dissimilar leaders were. Via the examination of their overlapping attributes, the author is able to illustrate a recipe for what prodigiousness in man is.

On the surface, the juxtaposition of Reagan and Churchill does not seem apt, yet the narrator undertakes substantial effort to illustrate just how much they had in common. When we think of Churchill, we immediately think of his monstrous wit and intellect, but, in reality, we should also think the same about the 40th President of the United States. Certainly, he was not a scholar, but Reagan wrote thousands and thousands of pages for radio addresses and columns which kept his name alive during the wilderness years of the late and middle seventies. Reagan's wit and humor was every bit the equal to Churchill's. Both men were mavericks who never allowed their political parties to predetermine their views or actions. These were conservatives occasionally distrusted by their fellow conservatives, but, regardless, they managed to outshine all of their peers.

Greatness, albeit it short, manages to convey the spirit of two titans who will be referenced well into the next millennium. It reads very quickly, but what will be best remembered are the quotations detailed within. The words of Reagan and the words of Churchill flower over every page, and, by letting his subjects speak, Hayward has fulfilled his mission.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a short, fascinating, and thought-provoking read -- something that's always hard to find!

Fascinating, even eerie parallels between Churchill and Reagan: well, everyone will have his own favorites. Here are mine.

First, public speaking. They both wrote their own speeches and slaved over them. Churchill wrote on 4" x 8" paper, Reagan on 4" x 6" cards. They both practiced their speeches almost to the point of memorization, with the same result: they sounded spontaneous and convincing to their audiences. They both made speeches which changed men's minds. Carter, Johnson, and Nixon were incapable of such a thing.

Second, their marriages. Churchill's first marriage, Reagan's second -- both were Total Love Relationships, with absolute loyalty on both sides, the kind of love Walt Disney teaches us to dream about.

There are many other fascinating parallels (and non-parallels) between these two great leaders, but I'll leave them for you to discover as you read this VERY stimulating book!
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Format: Hardcover
In between writing what will be a multi-book series Steven Hayward took a break and dashed of this delightful little book. At first it may seem that Reagan and Churchill had nothing in common but Hayward shows that this idea is wrong. Amazingly, Reagan and Churchill had remarkably parralel lives. Churchill was born in a palace but his childhood wasn't a fairy tale. His relationship with his adored father was a painful one that ended abruptly in what many whispered was a shameful death.

Reagan was born in modest circumstances and his relationship with his adored father was also painful due to his father's drunkeness. This relationship also ended abruptly by a death that was probably brought on by alcoholism.

Both men were devoted to their mothers and both men didn't bloom until they got away from home. Both men botched their early romances but ended up with devoted wives who they were intensely attached too. Both men seemed to be mystified and somewhat distant by their offspring. Both men were seriously underestimated by enemies and their own party colleagues. Both men despite living such hugely public lives were ciphers in private.

This book isn't trying to be an exhaustive treatise. It's a quick compare/contrast and is both amusing and eye opening.
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book to be quite interesting but not at all what I had anticipated. Based on the title, I expected to see an erudite tome analyzing the lives of Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill culminating in a discussion of how great leaders, such as these, are "made." I was, of course, being rather naïve, for if anyone knew how great leaders are produced they wouldn't be so rare in human history. What I found, instead, was a side-by-side comparison of two great men with emphasis on the parallels in their careers; the manner in which they were viewed by their contemporaries and the media in their own times; their visionary natures; the constancy of their actions; and the many connections between them which can be drawn when their characters, actions, writings, speeches, and strangely enough their educations are closely examined.

This latter point, their educations, may have come the closest to telling us how great leaders are created. Both men, it would seem, were rather poor students in their early years, but both men spent most of the remainder of their lifetimes reading and writing and, in effect, educating themselves without any presumed experts to tell them that this or that theory or manner of thinking was incorrect. In their solitude, much like Abraham Lincoln, they were left to decide for themselves what was right and what was wrong. As a consequence, neither Reagan nor Churchill ended up conforming to the conventional wisdom of his time, with the result that neither one was fully understood nor appreciated during his political lifetime.

This is an excellent book filled with little known, or at least little remembered, facts, anecdotes, quotes, and excerpts concerning two great statesmen. The comparisons are many, with surprising similarities that do both men great honor. Bottom line - This is a book well worth reading. I highly recommend it, but don't expect what the title offers but the book fails to deliver.
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