Also of interest…
In leaders and runners-up
by Doris Kearns Goodwin (Simon & Schuster, $30)
CEOs are going to like Doris Kearns Goodwin’s new book, said Ron Hogan in The Dallas Morning News. The popular historian has drawn on her deep knowledge of four presidents—including the Roosevelts and Abraham Lincoln—to highlight how each led America through crisis and how their examples can be translated into boardroom-ready jargon. Her approach to her subjects “tends toward flat-out hero worship,” but she shows “a strong knack” for weaving together the personal and political.
Every Day Is Extra
by John Kerry (Simon & Schuster, $35)
John Kerry’s fat new memoir “reminds you why he would probably have made a very good president,” said Dwight Garner in The New York Times. “It also reminds you why he lost.” Like its patrician author, the book is “reserved and idealistic and reassuringly dull.” It commits a full 300 pages to the author’s life since defeat by George W. Bush—meaning his recent diplomacy gets far more play than, say, Vietnam or the 2004 campaign. If nothing else, “it’s been a big life, packed with incident.”
by Julian Jackson (Belknap, $40)
To understand today’s France, you must understand Charles de Gaulle, said David Bell in The Nation. Julian Jackson’s portrait of the French Resistance leader “will likely remain the standard biography for many years to come,” because it’s both engaging and “scrupulously fair.” De Gaulle’s “massively overweening” self-confidence clearly served him well up until he established France’s Fifth Republic in 1958. But it also blinded him to changes in France that unleashed 1968’s political unrest.
by Arnold A. Offner (Yale, $35)
Hubert Humphrey, too, led a remarkable life, said Edward Kosner in The Wall Street Journal. Historian Arnold Offner “perhaps overrates his subject” when he labels the onetime Minnesota senator the most successful legislator in U.S. history. Still, the man who lost to Richard Nixon in 1968 was a courageous voice for civil rights long before his party embraced the cause, and he was an effective leader—until he wasn’t. “Aside from Vietnam, he was on the right side of history on most issues.”