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Eyewitness To Power: The Essence of Leadership Nixon to Clinton Paperback – October 2, 2001
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What makes this volume rise above the mountain of books on leadership (usually written for executives) is its spot-on observations about the way Washington works, drawn from years of experience: "Republicans like hierarchy and order; they're not like Democrats, as I saw later on, who thrive on chaos and creativity"; the Nixon view of Watergate "was the same as the Victorians had of adultery: the sin was not in the doing of it but in getting caught"; "In most institutions, the power of a leader grows over time. A CEO, a university president, the head of a union, acquire stature through the quality of their long-term performance. The presidency is just the opposite: power tends to evaporate quickly."
Gergen concludes by describing the seven leadership qualities a great president must have: personal integrity, a sense of mission, the ability to persuade, the ability to work with other politicians, a strong start after inauguration, skilled advisers, and the ability to inspire. Those traits, of course, will serve people well from all walks of life--and Eyewitness to Power will appeal not just to readers interested in the presidency but to anyone occupying a position of responsibility (or interested in getting there). --John J. Miller --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The book has a number of strengths. Part of is political history, part biography. You a get sense from reading the books of what the times were in which each president served and what the public expected and got from them. He is quite frank in discussing what the strengths and weaknesses of the presidents were (with some side reflections on Carter and Bush) and tries to sort out why some presidents are successful and others not. I found most of his appraisals (one at a time and then in summary) both well-articualted and generally convincing.
I know one reviewer here says Gergen namedrops -- I don't think he does. He is mostly telling an "I was there" story and then giving his sense of what it all meant. He is in no way aggrandizing or trying to clain an unreasoable role for himself.
For me, the best part of the books was discussion of what makes a president effective (admittedly something that changes with time). It seems to a mix of character, ability to connect with people, and in terms of leadership, the ability to focus on a few issues (esepcially early in a term) and to build consensus in the country. These are good lessons (told well) that I hope our next president understands.
My one hope on this book is that Gergen revisits it or at least fills us in some forum us on how the new president is doing. The book is a nice mix of history and an interpretation of presidential leadership.
One, David Gergen is obviously a pro who has, "been there, done that," and has some truly fascinating insights into the daily workings of the White House under Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton. I was most taken with his fair treatment of all of these leaders.He tells many tales of the men - warts and all. Gergen offers praise that might surprise you at times and gets tough at times on presidents he clearly admired.
Two, Gergen does a remarkable job of describing the Nixon White House - before, during and after Watergate. He has plenty bad to say about the demons that haunted Nixon and the hurt it did our country. However, he also looks at Nixon in a balanced perspective that stresses the intellect of the former president and his truly amazing abilities in the international arena. It is during Gergen's look at the Nixon presidency that we see the highs and lows all equally presented and Gergen telling it as he saw it. It is clear he had a great respect for Nixon's strategic mind. At the same time, he gives us an intriguing look at Nixon's personality that foretold his downfall.
Three, This is a book about leadership. EYEWITNESS TO POWER should be read by all of those in positions of leadership - whether in the public sector, private enterprise or running a local organization. He focuses on the leadership abilities of all four of these men and has some very astute observations that will benefit men and women to become better and more effective leaders.
Four, Gergen comes from the communications field. This brings a superb look at these presidents from the perspective of a speechwriter and offers much help to those starting out in public relations and/or journalism.Read more ›
Essentially, Gergen offers his inside assessment of the four Presidents he has served -- Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton. His account of the Nixon years is very balanced, but the most distant of all: as a mid-level staffer in an Administration that limited access to the Oval Office, Gergen could only get so close. Nonetheless, his informed speculation about both the grandiose aspirations and the dark side of Richard Nixon is enlightening and poignant. How could a man who accomplished so much feel so insecure as to pursue that catastrophic a course of action against his political opponents? We will never know, but Gergen lays out the evidence nicely.
The Reagan section is really the only place where Gergen can be faulted for not including more reflections on his day-to-day experiences. As a former top aide in the Reagan White House, one would expect more in the way of such recollections. For the most part, though, Gergen spends his time synthesizing others' accounts of Reagan, and fortunately, he does an excellent job of it. Though perhaps not his primary purpose in this book, Gergen proves his worth as an historian.
Only during the Clinton years do we get any sort of "kiss-and-tell" accounts.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Gergen has a unique perspective in serving many leaders, some with great vision and effectiveness and others with profound limitations. This makes for an interesting read. Read morePublished 4 days ago by Gary Hoffman
Excellent inside picture of the leadership styles of four Presidents. Gergen's writing style is easy to read and interesting. Read morePublished 18 days ago by Stephen E Markwood
I have been watching David Gergen for years on CNN and the news and this book gave me a different insight to him. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Brian W.
Very good with interesting detail. Funny cause he was not a fan of HRC but in the election it appears that DJT fears him more. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Giantbadger
This book allows one insight to four different Presidents of the United States from a man who has advised these Presidents. Fascinating read.Published 5 months ago by Book Lover
David Gergen is an interesting person in American politics as one who basically comes from the Republican side of the equation, but was prepared to join the Clinton White House... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Karlis Streips