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Leadership [Kindle Edition]

James MacGregor Burns
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 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.

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Editorial Reviews


 “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.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1177 KB
  • Print Length: 505 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0060105887
  • Publisher: Open Road Media (April 10, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,593 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 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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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The cornerstone of leadership literature February 11, 2002
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic for the 21st Century April 22, 2007
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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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The MUST book on leadership. February 17, 1999
By A Customer
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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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a classic January 11, 2005
The reviewer below is right. This is not a how to book. But then, it was never written with this intent so marking it down is not right.

If you want to truly understand leadership, historically, socioligically, psychologically, then buy this book. EVERY scholar of leadership has read it and often references it. It is a really monumental book and Burns is a really honest and authentic scholar (unlike the popular authors who know zero about leadership and are in it for the money). VIVA BURNS!!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 29 days ago by Charles
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Susan Rigby
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Primary source material
Great book.
Primary source material.
Published 1 month ago by robert owens
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
The best book on leadership, presents interesting concepts.
Published 1 month 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 1 month 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 2 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 5 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 8 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 8 months ago by Manuel De La Torriente
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Topic, not well Executed
Leadership is a secondary source history/political science book drawing on historical examples, psychology, and some philosophical concepts on governance. Read more
Published 9 months ago by JW Fox
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