The Myth of the Strong Leader: Political Leadership in the Modern Age

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Bodley Head, 2014 - Political leadership - 480 pages

In this magisterial and wide-ranging survey of political leadership over the past hundred years, Archie Brown challenges the widespread belief that strong leaders ‚e" those who dominate their colleagues and the policy-making process ‚e" are the most successful and admirable.

Within authoritarian regimes, a more collective leadership is a lesser evil compared with personal dictatorship where cultivation of the myth of the strong leader is often a prelude to oppression and carnage. Within democracies, although ‚e~strong leaders‚e(tm) are seldom as strong or independent as they purport to be, the idea that one person is entitled to take the big decisions is dangerous nonetheless, and the advantages of a collegial style of leadership are too often overlooked.

In reality, only a minority of political leaders make a big difference, by challenging assumptions about the politically possible or setting in motion systemic change. Yet in a democracy that is rare. It is especially when enlightened leaders acquire power in an authoritarian system that the opportunity for radical transformation occurs.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson, Willy Brandt and Mikhail Gorbachev, Deng Xiaoping and Nelson Mandela, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair are among the leaders whom Brown examines in this original and illuminating study.

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User Review  - Dilip-Kumar - LibraryThing

A polished exposition of the idea that a strong leader need not necessarily be a successful one. It gets a bit long-winded toward the middle, but the point is well made with examples from 19th and ... Read full review

THE MYTH OF THE STRONG LEADER: Political Leadership in the Modern Age

User Review  - Kirkus

Brown (Emeritus, Politics/Oxford Univ.; The Rise and Fall of Communism, 2009, etc.) addresses an apparent paradox in attitudes about political leaders.While people are presumed to prefer strong ... Read full review

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About the author (2014)

Archie Brown is Emeritus Professor of Politics at Oxford University. For almost five decades he has written on Soviet and Communist politics, the Cold War, and political leadership. His previous books include The Gorbachev Factor (1996), Seven Years that Changed the World: Perestroika in Perspective (2007) and The Rise and Fall of Communism (Bodley Head, 2009).

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