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American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane Hardcover – Bargain Price, November 24, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Anything but a dewy-eyed idealist (he jokes that his fellow liberals "are congenitally more comfortable humming the theme of All Things Considered than the theme of Crossfire"), Isaacson is insistent that liberal values, such as the free exchange of ideas, pluralism and rational, evidence-based decision making, are crucial to America's well-being. Above all, he concludes that "the need to calibrate a proper balance among opposing principles is evident in every issue we face today, from abortion to health-care reform to affirmative action."
A sizable cross section of the book is devoted to writings on his three biographical subjects, each subtly disclosing a different aspect of this worldview. He lauds Benjamin Franklin as a paragon of the American virtue of compromise, even going so far as to find a healthy dose of that quality embodied in our current president.Read more ›
This book is a collection of first rate essays and articles covering an array of American political and creative leaders as well as some thoughts on journalism and its future. The essays were written over a span of several decades, so in addition to the actual essays, each contains a foreword by the author to put it into current perspective.
All of the essays are good, but some are more interesting than others. Isaacson is clearly infatuated with Einstein, so Einstein gets more than his share of coverage in this collection. Very interesting and deserving material though.
My favorite was the piece on Bill Gates. Longer than most, it gives the reader a real feel for who Gates is and how he is wired. The essay addresses his many incredible strengths as well as some of his flaws. The eulogy for George Plimpton was also especially good.
I was particularly interested in the book's introduction in which the author explains his own background and how he got from New Orleans to Harvard to the editorship of Time and Chairmanship of CNN. Good stuff!!
The people he examines include Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Bill Clinton, John Adams, Henry Kissinger, Bill Gates, Colin Powell, Ronald Reagan, George Plimpton, and many others. Asides about Walker Percy, Gorbachev, Henry Grunwald, and different political figures add to an already fascinating book, a book that demonstrates the power of American ingenuity, tenacity, and intellect. Each essay contains a pearl of wisdom blended with great perception and historical information on the person being discussed. This makes for a reading experience that feels like relaxed story-telling but is inadvertently and vastly educational. Since it is all factual and biographical, American Sketches is a study in personal excellence, charisma, and individual charm. As the book comes to a close, we read an inspiring series of articles on Louisiana and its commitment to overcoming the tragedy of Katrina. One of most entertaining chapters is the transcript of the Woody Allen interview.
The writing style is journalistic by experienced editor and author Walter Isaacson, a master of the genre and an ideal choice for a book of this type.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book. Like it so much that I am rereading it. Interesting and informative.Published 1 month ago by Blanca Lennon
Hillary Clinton? She certainly isn't a leader, not a creative thinker.....did she survive a hurricane? Maybe the hurricane hit Bosnia the same time she was under fire? Read morePublished 4 months ago by TxRushFan
A series of essays Isaacson has written over the years. Not as good as his other worksPublished 4 months ago by MCB
Isaacson has true affection for the intellects, complexity and character of his subjects.Published 4 months ago by biitts
I love Walter Isaacson, but this is basically an anthology of his news articles in papers and in Time. Read morePublished 5 months ago by M. A. Mosher
Very insightful. Most enlightening to have a better understanding of the individual thinking and values that went into global policy decision making.Published 15 months ago by Bud Ovrom
Other than his lunatic, optimistic views on President Obama (as of 2009), the writings of Walter Isaacson on some of the great figures of 20th Century history are very interesting. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Zechristof