"Churchill on Leadership" by Steven F. Hayward

Brian Gongol

One-paragraph review: It's hard to separate Winston Churchill as a human being from "Winston Churchill", the myth from history textbooks. His place in history is of course secure due to his service as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War II. But "Churchill on Leadership" does a terrific service to Churchill, the human being, by rounding out the rest of his story. One of the hardest things to find in biographies of great historical figures is the story of how they came to their decisions. That's unfortunate, because decisions are what create the legends -- and it's almost impossible to extract any useful guidance from a biography without learning the subject's decision-making process. How we decide creates who we are. Hayward makes ample use of Churchill's own words to explain the means by which he actually made decisions and carried out his responsibilities over the course of more than half a century at the center of British public life -- he didn't just appear on the scene at the outset of WWII. The text is too dense for its own good in the first chapter or two, but it loosens up in time to make the rest of the book very pleasant to read.

Verdict: Generously packed with well-reasoned analysis about, and excellent quotations from, an iconic leader.