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Xenophon's Cyrus the Great: The Arts of Leadership and War
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38 of 41 people found the following review helpful
As the editor of "Xenophon's Cyrus the Great," I'd like to take this opportunity to tell you a little more about my version of this amazing ancient classic. The foremost management guru of recent times, Peter F. Drucker, read my manuscript before it was published, and he wrote this endorsement for use on its dust jacket: "'Xenophon's Cyrus,' the first book on the subject, is still the best book on leadership." Here's just a touch of background: Cyrus, the founder of the Persian empire, was an enlightened monarch who flourished 2,500 years ago. A century later, Xenophon of Athens so admired Cyrus' methods that he preserved them in history's first full-fledged treatment of wise and heroic leadership. This book presents its leadership lessons in the context of an epic story--the story of a vast power struggle. In narrating the events of Cyrus' life, Xenophon shows you, the reader, how to conduct meetings, become an expert negotiator, deal efficiently with allies, communicate by appealing to the self-interest of your followers, encourage the highest standards of performance, insure that your organization has the benefit of specialists, and prove that your words will be backed by your deeds. In recounting the achievements of Cyrus the Great, Xenophon wanted above all to provide lessons in ethical leadership, for he was convinced that honest, moral leaders succeed far more often than corrupt and evasive types. The result was a captivating leadership classic with unique qualities--a classic that's distinguished both by its suspenseful story line and the priceless advice that it offers to today's business professionals and leaders in all walks of life.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
The author/editor of the book takes a few liberties.

1) The book is abridged.

2) He re-writes the book in first person from Cyrus' point-of-view.

Even so, it is well worth reading, although I would suggest the Loeb translations.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2006
A very readable version of one of the most remarkable books ever written. Hats off to Mr. Hedrick for making this ancient text seem so contemporary, without undermining the historical integrity of the work. I am a big fan of making the classics accessible to the average reader and Mr. Hedrick has done that. This would be a great gift for the recent high school or college grad. We can only hope that he is working on something similar for Xenophon's Persian Expedition, another ancient text that is rich in contemporary lessons.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on July 16, 2006
The book is based on 1906 translation by Henry Graham Dakyns and the Book of Ezra in the Old Testament which describes the liberation of Hebrews from their Babylonian captivity.

Xenophon describes the unique character of Cyrus the Great in details and his vision to bring a new order to the world and to replace injustice with justice and balance.

He formed a government that can still serve as a model for all those who thirst for justice and the virtue that lived in him will live on in everyone who cherishes his achievements.

His faith was deep and genuine and he believed in kindness, freedom, dignity .A true hero, a champion of human right.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 25, 2006
The author of this book Mr. Larry HEDRICK have done great research in order to bring into light King of kings Cyrus the Great humanitrian achievements to readers attention. Truly, King Cyrus the Great was father of Persia/Iran, and liberator of Babylonians, law giver to Greek and messiah for Jews.

I hope in today's world, a leader same as Cyrus would emerge in political world and save us from this path of destruction.

Thank you Mr. Larry HEDRICK for reflecting light on Iran's heritage and enlighten Iranians and others of this great man's virtue.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2008
I became interested in Cyrus the Great after reading my daughter her history lesson from Susan Wise Bauer's "Story of the World, book 1". In Bauer's version Cyrus's grandfather was told his grandson would grow up to take the throne from him, so he sent him off to be killed as an infant. Instead he was raised in the country by a shepherd who had a barren wife. He converted to Judiasim at an early age and his future was shaped by his belief in one God.

In this version (and I don't know who is to blame - Xenophon or Hendrick) he often refers to the lessons he learned from his father, the King, and his youth hunting with the "peers" - i.e. people of the highest social class. Which is it? Raised by a shepherd as a commoner or in a life of privelege? Because it makes a huge difference on the rest of the story. He was a hero of the common man, saving peasants from becoming involved in the battles, etc. This book puts a very elitist spin on the entire story - he does these things because he is the best of the best and has such great virtue that he learned from his father the king.

Other than that, and the fact the vocabulary seems suited to a Junior High reader rather than an adult, it is a pretty good book. I usually don't like reading war strategy type things but it had me hooked. I think it is definately a much better choice for High School/college than Machiavelli's "The Prince" which is somehow supposed to be styled after this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 24, 2009
Xenophon's account of Cyrus's expedition and conquests is great. He portrays a man inspired by God (though Xenophon has him worshipping other gods too, some historians have pointed out that Cyrus actually believed in one God from a young age, after converting to Judaism). Further weight is given to this by the fact that some Islamic scholars believe God is referring to Cyrus in Sura Al-Kahf of the Quran, when God mentions a conquest undertaken by a believer called Dhul-Qurnain (The Two Horned - as translated in English).

The book may weigh down the interest of those who are not interested in military strategy, as some sections lean quite heavily towards that direction. However the last few chapters are just gold, leaving you with that warm, happy feeling as Cyrus leaves this world. The advice on principles of life imparted by Cyrus in the last few chapters are very insightful and speak to humans of all ages. He was truly a very insightful and ambitious man. As a previous reviewer has pointed out, the book portrays Cyrus as being an elitist whereas he had read in a history book of Cyrus being raised up by shepherds and being a man of the people. Im not sure which is correct, but Xenophons account is not a literal historical account of the man I believe, but more so a recount of the lasting legacy and impact he had as a leader to a land as far away as Greece, where Xenophon lived.

All in all it is a great account by Xenophon, with many insightful and inspirational one liners and principles, which really can be applied in all situations of life.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2007
I enjoyed reading this book for many reasons. The two primary reasons I recommend it highly are:
1) It is a great leadership/management book. It shows you how you can have great power through respect and understanding of the human nature.
2) It provides many people who are not familiar with the history and culture of Persians and Iran an eye opening vista of the contributions of this civilization. I believe it is important for Persians and non-Persians to know more about this heritage and how far away form this the country has come today in the hopes of learning from the past leaders.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
I'm often asked to recommend my top leadership or management book. So, almost on autopilot, I hit play and blather the following:

"It's impossible to pick one leadership book. Everyone's at different levels of experience and need. That's why you need 20 management buckets--and dozens of niche leadership books. Blah...blah...blah."

Then (gulp) this past January I read and reviewed The Practical Drucker: Applying the Wisdom of the World's Greatest Management Thinker, by William A. Cohen. Here is Peter Drucker's response to that question: "the first systematic book on leadership--the Kyropaidaia by Xenophon, himself no mean leader of men--is still the best book on the subject."

Kyropaidaia (or Cyropaedia) was also known as Cyrus the Great (c. 580 - 529 B.C.). Cyrus founded the Persian Empire in the sixth century B.C. by uniting the Medes and the Persians, the two original Iranian tribes. His empire "extended from India to the Mediterranean Sea and was the most powerful state in the world until its conquest two centuries later by Alexander the Great."

What did Drucker see in this remarkable figure? "The great Persian's astonishing military successes and mild rule provided just the kind of raw material that Xenophon needed to fashion his portrait of a human paragon."

Fortunately, Larry Hedrick, a former air force officer and military historian, has edited Xenophon's work (c. 431 - 355 B.C.) and crafted a stunning, page-turner leadership treatise.

Five chapters in the Old Testament, Ezra 1-5, salute the generosity of Cyrus the Great for liberating the Jews from Babylon and for his generous gifts for the temple in Jerusalem. According to Hedrick, the Iranians regard Cyrus as "The Father," the Babylonians as "the Liberator," the Greeks as "The Law-Giver," and the Jews as "The Anointed of the Lord" (see Isaiah 45).

So why did Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, call Xenophon's book (written 100 years after Cyrus died) "the best book on leadership?"

Start with more than 140 you-gotta-read-these subtitles (inserted into Xenophon's new abridged edition by Hedrick):
* Inspire Your People with an Enticing Vision of a New Order
* Know When to Keep Your Own Counsel
* Err on the Side of Self-Reliance
* Obedience Should Not Be the Result of Compulsion
* Imagining Disaster May Save You from Tragedy
* Exude Confidence, Not Anxiety
* Recognize the Inevitability of Conflict

And those are just samples from the first 33 pages. Cyrus the Great was a life-long learner--with unusual wisdom. "Let us remember our forefathers," he preached to his warriors, "but let us no longer exaggerate their virtues."

And this from Cyrus' father: "If you wish to be thought a good estate manager, or a good horseman, or a good physician, or a good flute player without really being one, just imagine all the tricks you have to invest just to keep up appearances. You might succeed at first, but in the end you're going to be exposed as an imposter."

Delivered like the off-camera color commentaries popular on TV sitcoms today, Cyrus' frank assessment of both allies and enemies is instructive--this one on Syazarees, his uncle: "He seemed only half awake to the extraordinary responsibilities of his office, and he exuded far more anxiety than confidence."

So Xenophon (channeled in modern leadership/management lingo by Hedrick) paints a leadership masterpiece with both subtle tones and bold smash-face war scenes. Whew! (Not what I was expecting!)

Most of my reading colleagues tilt towards the skinny management books, not 295-page tomes. But this is neither.

This is readable. This is exciting. Leadership, coaching, mentoring, innovation, psychology, motivation, crisis management, social styles, cultural hiccups. Plus: stunning acts of kindness. And generosity--AMAZING generosity. The case studies in generosity (on and off the battlefield) will shock you. Wow. Here's Cyrus on his favorite subject:

"Allow me to pause and emphasize this general rule: Success always calls for greater generosity--though most people, lost in the darkness of their own egos, treat it as an occasion for greater greed."

There's wisdom and insight on almost every page. More subtitles:
* Brevity Is the Soul of Command
* Address Different Audiences with Different Emphases
* Minimize Distinctions of Rank
* Create a Psychological Advantage by Seizing the Initiative
* Nip Ill-Advised Plans in the Bud
* Counter Demoralizing Words with Reasoned Argument
* Understand the Motivations of Your Followers
* Overconfidence Has Been the Undoing of Many
* Defeat the Foeman Known as Envy
* Convince Your People of the Benefits of Change
* Blessed Are Those Who Take the Initiative

There. These teasers should be enough for you to hit "purchase" at Amazon. But really--if Peter Drucker said it's "still the best book on leadership," what more do you need?
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on April 18, 2015
I had a great expectation for this book, because I've read Education of Cyrus and I really really enjoyed it. I think the author worked very hard to make Xenophon's original text more reader-friendly and applicable for today's generation. However, to me, 1st person narrative was a big mistake. The book basically praises this king throughout, and 1st person narrative makes him sound like such a narcissist (Praising himself throughout). If it was written in 3rd person, or someone else's 1st person narrative observing Cyrus, it would have been a great success. I write stories myself, so I know the dilemma of deciding whose point of view to write in. If you choose the wrong POV, the effects will be significantly reduced. I'm sure the author had considered this and made his decision. It just didn't work for me.

Another issue is it's too much like lectures to teach corporate leaders or people who want to be a leader. From the beginning, words like 'organization' comes out, and it took me right out of the ancient world. I don't know if it's the author's meddling, or Xenophon was a 21st century ancient man or what. It was like attending current day leadership classes. So, I would say it is stripped of ancient flavors and colors.

Well, to tell the truth, I've read the first 10 pages or so, and got stuck. I'm trying to get back to reading it, but it just doesn't have the power to bring me back to it. Maybe it's because I had just finished reading Mary Renault's The Last of the Wine, which was a rich historical novel with characters like Xenophon, Socrates, Plato, Phaedo, etc. The characters really come alive. Also I'd read REnault's Persian Boy, in which Alexander and the boy Bagoas discuss Cyrus. Both books had so much colors and flavors and I truly lived in the world they lived in. That's not the case of this book.

The narrative voice is more for the younger people, like high school level, but the subject matters are for grownups. Over all, it is an endearing attempt on the author's part. It just didn't work for me.
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