- Hardcover: 368 pages
- Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (March 3, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1586484710
- ISBN-13: 978-1586484712
- Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 2 customer reviews
Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
#648,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #110 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Public Affairs & Policy > Non-Governmental Organizations
- #313 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Social Sciences > Philanthropy & Charity
- #623 in Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Politics & Government > Public Affairs & Policy > Social Policy
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A Kind of Genius: Herb Sturz and Society's Toughest Problems Hardcover – March 3, 2009
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“In what is both a biography and an appreciation of his subject's achievement, Roberts…brings our attention to a pioneer of social entrepreneurship….The influences of pragmatism, his father's unconditional love, a bout with polio at an early age, a letter from John Steinbeck, and a profound respect for the Bill of Rights—all helped shape Sturz, depicted as an admirable, humble, idealistic realist (if you will), an average man intent on tirelessly championing civil rights and liberties. Also notable here is the in-depth analysis of the numerous social programs Sturz created. Recommended for public and undergraduate libraries, especially with collections in social-service entrepreneurship”
executive editor Mark Schmitt, American Prospect, 3/20
“The book catches the feel of governance over a long era in New York and how a single visionary could get one thing after another accomplished.”
Washington Post, 4/5
“Roberts does a fine job of showing how Sturz succeeded not only by having good ideas but also by appealing to ‘government's enlightened self-interest.’ Systems change when systems see a selfish reason to change. In our time of national transformation, it's a valuable lesson.”
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That said, while I enjoyed reading about mayors, political wrangling, and how Sturz accomplished major projects (or sometimes not, as in Westway or selling Rikers Island to NY State), I feel that this book may not appeal to a national audience. Sturz is truly a remarkable man and it is great that he is finally getting some major recognition for his good work. Roberts appears to be an accomplished journalist, and he interviews a lot of people who know Sturz and does due diligence to research, but there is just something dry and somewhat mechanical about the writing/reporting. While there are definitely interesting chapters, in my opinion the book comes off a bit like a vanity piece, as if someone who loves Sturz paid a little known publisher and found a competent writer to pay him his due. Perhaps someone like Robert Moses, a more complicated and controversial figure who is much easier to criticize and attack, simply is a more interesting subject?
This is unfortunate, as there are lessons to be learned from his life and accomplishments. Perhaps, afterall, Sturz should contemplate writing an autobiography that provides some juicy tidbits on what goes on inside Cityhall's Blue Room.