Book Review: Power, Ambition and Glory

Jan 8, 2013 by

Power, Ambition and Glory1_Xenophone–was known for ” building consensus and finding direction”- what a concept! Our current leaders could learn much from reading this excellent book.

Book Review:

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

Title : Power, Ambition and Glory

Authors : Steve Forbes and John Prevas

Three Rivers Press, New York

As we approach the coronation of Barack Obama, oops, I mean the inauguration of Barack Obama, it may be an opportunity to reflect on what he has accomplished in his first term, and to prognosticate on what he may be attempting to accomplish in his second term. In order to put this entire event ( coronation or inauguration ) into perspective, we have to turn to an extremely interesting, provocative book by Steve Forbes ( former presidential candidate ) and John Prevas, historian par excellence.

The book “Power, Ambition and Glory” is a god send for individuals interested in garnering a robust vision of past leaders- and what led to their downfall as well as to their relative success.

Forbes and Prevas provide a panoramic overview of several past leaders- Cyrus the Great, Xenophon, Alexander the Great, Hannibal of Carthage, Julius Caesar, and Augustus. They provide a historical overview of the zeitgeist in which these leaders ruled, and their relative accomplishments. Each chapter is laced with insights and then provide a contemporary assessment of various leaders in the realm of business and industry.

Each leader reviewed in this superb book is linked with certain personality traits and factors that contribute to their success or failure.

For example, one may ask- ” what made Cyrus the Great, the superlative leader that he was?- Key words- tolerance, and inclusion.

Xenophone–was known for ” building consensus and finding direction”- what a concept! Our current leaders could learn much from reading this excellent book.

Hannibal, obviously crossed the Alps, but did so much more that – and Forbes and Prevas provide the backdrop of the man and his accomplishments. Julius Caesar and Augustus were juxtaposed lastly in the book- Caesar was murdered, due to his ego, ambition and various other foibles. Augustus practiced stability and moderation and hence, reigned long and productively. Some of our leaders, while not murdered, have been impeached for ” high crimes and misdemeanors” as well as other forms of skullduggery.

The book is about leadership- that vague nebulous synthesis of people skills, opportunity, and vision that provide an opportunity for those in office or those in business or industry to accomplish great things-however, often leaders needs for power, expansion, ambition and glory and worship negate their accomplishments.

Some books are made to be read, referred to and referenced, and others are made to be studied, and discussed. This is a book that not only deserves to be read and studied, but learned from. I enjoyed learning about individuals that were only superficially reviewed in World Civilization classes. Further, I gained some deep understanding an appreciation as to the parallels between the factors that lead to accomplishment and greatness, as well as self-destruction and downfall.

At the beginning of this year, as we reflect back on the past four years, and look ahead to the next four years, this book provides an excellent backdrop as to what motivates our leaders- is it pride, hubris, the need for power, glory, or is it blind ambition. Steve Forbes and John Prevas attempt to give us a historical background and perspective on these issues.

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