Biographies of Public Leaders




  • Two Leaders--Two Legacies (by Ray Blunt)
    Contrasts the leadership of Thomas Jefferson and William Wilberforce

  • Creech, by Walter J. Boyne
    Summary of the impact General Wilbur "Bill" Creech had on the U.S. Air Force.


Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage

By Richard Stengel

Richard Stengel spent a significant amount of time with Nelson Mandela over a three-year period as they collaborated on Mandela’s autobiography, The Long Walk to Freedom. In Mandela’s Way, Stengel draws on stories from the autobiography and from his own experience with Mandela to highlight key lessons of the great man’s leadership. Superbly written and loaded with insights into how Mandela became such an extraordinary leader. Read an excerpt.   Read More...

Crossed Lives--Crossed Purposes

By Ray Blunt

Ray Blunt beautifully weaves together the lives of two of history's great men--William Wilberforce and Thomas Jefferson--and in doing so reveals compelling new insights about the importance of a leader's world view and how mentors influence that world view. This inspiring and thought-provoking story also teaches us much about the importance of a clear life mission and how a leader's allies can help him accomplish that mission. Watch video of Ray Blunt discussing his book at the Trinity Forum.   Read More...

Cover of It Worked for MeIt Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership

By Colin L. Powell

This is the second volume of Colin Powell's autobiography, covering the period from when he retired from the military until he completed his four years as Secretary of State. As was the case with My American Journey, this book is packed with leadership insights and inspiring anecdotes. Among other things, this volume discusses his efforts to strengthen the Department of State as an organization and improve leadership in the Department (something that had been cited as a major weakness of State by many independent studies prior to Powell's tenure there).  Read More...

Team of Rivals

By Doris Kearns Goodwin

Many biographies have been written about Abraham Lincoln. Team of Rivals is unique in that it was based on the papers of three of his key cabinet members, Henry Seward, Salmon P. Chase, and Edward Bates. All three had sought the Republican Party nomination for President in 1860, only to be defeated by the relatively less well-known Lincoln. Appreciating the need to have the country's best talent in a time of crisis, Lincoln appointed Seward as Secretary of State, Chase as Secretary of the Treasury, and Bates as Attorney General. All three played critical roles during the Civil War. A wonderful read, Team of Rivals leaves the reader with a great appreciation for Lincoln's political brilliance, his willingness to take responsibility for the mistakes of his cabinet members, and his incredible capacity to forgive (or at least ignore) disloyalty in the interest of the greater good of the country.  Read More...

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

By Benjamin Franklin

Hailed by some as one of the most influential works in American history, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is packed with wisdom from America’s original change agent, social innovator, and self-made man. Written in language that still sounds surprisingly contemporary today, Franklin (1706-1790) outlines key events in his life up until around the time he left his printing business for a life of public service. Includes many useful tips about how to influence others and bring about positive change without appearing to be a self-promoter.  Read More....

General of the Army

By Ed Cray

Few—if any—public servants have had as great an impact as Gen. George C. Marshall. As Army Chief of Staff he was architect of the U.S. war machine and Allied victory in World War II. As Secretary of State he conceptualized the Marshall Plan and NATO. He also mentored some of our greatest military leaders, including Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley. General of the Army chronicles the development of Marshall’s character, from boyhood until his final retirement as Secretary of Defense. This very readable biography covers many of the most important events of the first half of the 20th Century and provides insights into the leadership traits of other great leaders as well, such as FDR, Churchill, and Eisenhower.Read More...

In the Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain and the American Civil War

By Alice Rains Trulock

When the U.S. Civil War began, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was a professor at Bowdoin College with no military background whatsoever.  By the end of the war, he had risen to the rank of Major General and had become one of the most heroic and inspiring leaders in U.S. history.  Best known for leading the charge at Little Round Top that turned the tide at Gettysburg, Chamberlain also showed great class when presiding over the formal surrender of the Confederate Army at Appomattox.  After the war, Chamberlain went on to become President of Bowdoin College and Governor of Maine.   In the Hands of Providence describes Chamberlain's transformation from professor to soldier and includes numerous inspiring anecdotes about his leadership.  Read More...

Hero for Humanity: A Biography of William Wilberforce

By Kevin Belmonte

One of the most brilliant British politicians of his era, William Wilberforce set aside personal ambition early in his career in order to pursue two goals: the abolition of the slave trade and the "reformation of manners."  In 1807, following a 20-year struggle, Wilberforce won approval for legislation banning the slave trade in the British Empire.  Wilberforce is also widely credited with bringing about the "reformation of manners" that characterized the morality, attitudes, and social philanthropy of the Victorian era.  A deeply religious man, Wilberforce demonstrated how one individual with tremendous talent, moral courage, and perseverance can bring about major change.  Read More...

My American JourneyMy American Journey

By Colin L. Powell

My American Journey is an inspiring autobiography by General Colin Powell which covers his early years in New York, his introduction to the military via the ROTC program in college, and his professional growth as he rose through the ranks of the U.S. Army to become National Security Advisor and then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Packed with leadership stories rules General Powell has lived by, this book prompted Oren Harari to write the article "Quotations from Chairman Powell: A Leadership Primer."   Read More...

American Generalship: Character is Everything

By Edgar F. Puryear

American Generalship provides many wonderful insights into the professional development of some of the greatest U.S. military leaders of 20th Century, including Generals Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, MacArthur, and Creech.  Edgar Puryear based this book on interviews he conducted with more than 100 officers of the four-star rank.  Includes numerous anecdotes that illustrate how these great leaders valued (and modeled) selflessness, avoided “yes-men,” mentored others (and were mentored themselves), read voraciously, and delegated effectively.   Read More...

The Rickover Effect: How One Man Made a Difference

By Theodore Rockwell

Admiral Hyman Rickover (1900-1986), the “Father of the Nuclear Navy,” was one of the most successful—and controversial- public managers of the 20th Century. His accomplishments are the stuff of legend. For example, in three short years, Rickover’s team designed and built the first nuclear submarine--the Nautilus—an amazing feat of engineering given that it involved the development of the first use of a controlled nuclear reactor. The Nautilus not only transformed submarine warfare, but also laid the groundwork for a whole fleet of nuclear aircraft carriers and cruisers (which was also built by Rickover and his team).  Rickover was also an exceptionally demanding boss and was disliked by many outside his organization because of his uncompromising nature.  In The Rickover Effect, Theodore Rockwell (who was one of Rickovers top managers for 15 years), offers many entertaining stories and useful insights into the Admiral's leadership, character--and impact.  Read More...

Failure is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond

By Gene Kranz

During his 34 years with NASA, Gene Kranz served as Flight Director during numerous missions of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs.  Kranz played a key role in building NASA's flight control team, preparing the team to manage crises, and then leading them during crises--most notably the Apollo 13 Mission and the high-pressure Apollo 11 landing.  Failure is Not an Option, Kranz's memoir, is a great story, but also describes his own development as a leader and the role he played in growing more leaders for NASA. Read More...