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Leadership [Kindle Edition]

James MacGregor Burns
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Pulitzer Prize–winning historian James MacGregor Burns’s definitive look at the power of transformational leadership, from Moses to Machiavelli to Martin Luther King Jr.

Historian and political scientist James MacGregor Burns has spent much of his career documenting the use and misuse of power by leaders throughout history. In this groundbreaking study, Burns examines the qualities that make certain leaders—in America and elsewhere—succeed as transformative figures. Through insightful anecdotes and historical analysis, Burns scrutinizes the charisma, vision, and persuasive power of individuals able to imbue followers with a common sense of purpose, from the founding fathers to FDR, Ghandi to Napoleon. Since its original publication in 1970, Leadership has set the standard for scholarship in the field.



Editorial Reviews

Review

 “An impressive book.” —The Washington Post
 
“[I]n this new book . . . Burns demonstrates that he is not only one of America’s outstanding political scientists but a major social philosopher as well.” —City News
 

About the Author

James MacGregor Burns (b. 1918) is a bestselling American historian and political scientist whose work has earned both the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize. Born in Boston, Burns fell in love with politics and history at an early age. He earned his BA at Williams College, where he returned to teach history and political science after obtaining his PhD at Harvard and serving in World War II. Burns’s two-volume biography of Franklin Roosevelt is considered the definitive examination of the politician’s rise to power, and his groundbreaking writing on the subject of political leadership has influenced scholars for decades. He currently serves as the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Government Emeritus at Williams College and as Distinguished Leadership Scholar at the University of Maryland.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leadership: an analysis study November 23, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The world of leadership is examined through a sweeping assessment on its power and purpose to its origins in James MacGregor Burns's book, Leadership. This book is a very comprehensive overview of the study of leadership as it distinguishes not only what are the two basic styles of leadership: transforming and transactional, but evaluates the theory and practice of leadership skills as well. Burns stated in Leadership, "I define leadership as leaders inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and the motivations¬-the wants and needs, the aspirations and expectations-of both leaders and followers" (19).

Throughout the book, Burns discussed the leadership styles of political leaders to religious and social leaders. From Martin Luther King, Jr to Moses to Mahatma Gandhi to Napoleon, plus Machiavelli and even Adolf Hitler, Burns cited how these leaders made vital distinctions between wants and needs. According to Burns, "the process of leadership must be seen as part of the dynamics of conflict and of power; that leadership is nothing if not linked to collective purpose; that the effectiveness of leaders must be judged not by their press clippings but by actual social change measured by intent and by the satisfaction of human needs and expectations" (3).
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The cornerstone of leadership literature February 11, 2002
Format:Paperback
This is the definitive book on leadership. It is long, dense with historical facts, sparkling with insights, and is essential reading for the leadership scholar. Few other leadership books merit a place on the essential reading list for this field.
Burns's accomplishment of recognizing the taxonomy of leadership is unmatched to this day. He distinguishes, for example, intellectual leadership from executive leadership, and explains how each is forged in the "crucible" of circumstances.
Rather than serving as a "how to" guide on leadership, Burns provides the reader with a framework for understanding his or her leadership role, and the requirements that accompany each role. Finding one's own reflection in this catalog of leadership roles can be an exciting and satisfying moment for the reader.
Burns is best known for developing the concept of "transforming" leadership, or "transformational" leadership as he calls it in this book. It stands in contrast to "transactional" leadership, which holds that every leader-follower encounter is an isolated event.
Whether the reader perseveres through the whole book, or just reads the introductory chapters, he or she will be in the presence of some of the best thinking to date on leadership.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic for the 21st Century April 22, 2007
Format:Paperback
When I was a doctoral student, I wrote my dissertation about transforming leadership. As a full-time doctoral faculty member at one of America's leading online universities, I now mentor students in leadership and organizational change, among other specializations.

Leadership, by James MacGregor Burns the Pulitzer Prize winning author, is the most important book I have read in the field of leadership. In it, Burns coined the term, Transforming Leadership, and distinguished it from its more mundane counterpart, Transactional Leadership.

In so doing, Burns catalyzed much of the theorizing and research into transforming leadership (also called transformational leadership, visionary leadership, and charismatic leadership, among others) from the latter part of the 20th century through today.

In this foundational book, Burns argued that there was a "crisis of leadership" because people did not understand the essence of leadership. Whereas traditional, transactional leaders concern themselves with exchanging money for services, the modern, transforming leader "seeks to satisfy higher needs, and engages the full person of the follower" in a "collective purpose," that is, a common vision or shared goal. The end result is leadership "that can produce social change that will satisfy followers authentic needs" (p. 4).

A classic, the message of this book is as meaningful and urgent today as it was when Burns wrote it. We need a new form of leadership to help us deal with the problems of an ever shrinking, interconnected world. Those who would be part of a collective effort to make the world a better place, would do well to read this book.

Robert E. Levasseur, Ph.D., author of "Leadership and Change in the 21st Century"
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The MUST book on leadership. February 17, 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is THE classic, set-the-bar book on leadership. Professor Burns has produced a masterful, beautifully written, historically based view of leadership behavior. In this book, he first introduces his idea of 'transforming leadership.' Now in his 80s, he is Senior Scholar at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership at University of Maryland. A true classic.....
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Topic, not well Executed December 31, 2013
By JW Fox
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Leadership is a secondary source history/political science book drawing on historical examples, psychology, and some philosophical concepts on governance. Burns goal with the book is to establish a foundation for the study of leadership, combining the studies of the leaders themselves and the followers. It covers the individual traits of leaders, their relationship to followers, and how they managed to accomplish great things or have such great impact.

This textbook has a number of stylistic problems that make it difficult to read, despite its interesting substance. Its organization is shaky and many of the chapters and sections have no clear intro or conclusion to tie his thesis together. The book is a dry, boring read that meanders between secondary sources, historical anecdotes, and the author's own biased perceptions.

Burns seems to be trying to place a lateral beam across several pillars with his leadership school. This isn't nearly as groundbreaking as the blurbs on the back of the book claim. Burns' conclusions are limited in scope, and don't leave a strong impression on the reader.

He overuses Sigmund Freud, conceding that psychoanalysis of historical figures is not particularly accurate or helpful, then goes forward and uses it anyway. He identifies few patterns, constantly going back to the same old "blame the parents" approach to psychoanalysis. His occasional delving into the sexual habits of famous leaders was purely conjecture and not worthy of this text.

Burns narration of historical events and the rise of certain leaders is mediocre. It isn't heavy on detail, yet the prose is still difficult to follow. The historical examples do not clearly demonstrate his thesis.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book. Good transaction.
Published 15 days ago by JACOB N. VO
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great!
Published 1 month ago by Charles
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Thanks!
Published 2 months ago by Susan Rigby
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Primary source material
Great book.
Primary source material.
Published 2 months ago by robert owens
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The best book on leadership, presents interesting concepts.
Published 2 months ago by Adriano Becattini
5.0 out of 5 stars An exciting journey through leadership from the guru's perspective....
An exciting journey through leadership from the guru's perspective. I have not completed reading this book as yet but it is certainly helping me with my research. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Dee Campbell
4.0 out of 5 stars Good reference book
Important book to be familiar with if you are studying leadership.
Published 3 months ago by Tanya E. Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars a book for all times
this book will go a long way in addressing the problem of political leadership in Africa and other developing countries. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Bolaji Samson Aregbeshola
4.0 out of 5 stars OK
This product was exactly as described.
I am including these next few words becasue Amazon requires it. That needs to be changed.
Published 9 months ago by KC
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent text for use at all levels.
Highlyy informative for with little or no leadership experience, and explicatory of successful leadership experience for those who have experience and want to learn the basis for... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Manuel De La Torriente
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