3 Books for Business Leaders that Aren’t Business Books

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Business leaders are readers. But business leaders read more than business books. There’s history and biography. There’s science, including psychology and sociology and anthropology. Business leaders read about art. They read fiction, too.

Here are three recent books from the history and biography part of the world. Read them to learn about three men who shaped the world we live in.

The Splendid and The Vile by Erik Larson

At the beginning of World War II, Hitler’s armies swept across Europe. France surrendered. The British had to evacuate their soldiers from Dunkirk, using boats of all kinds. Hitler began a bombing campaign to soften up the British before an invasion. Things weren’t looking good for Britain.

The Splendid and The Vile is the story of Winston Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister, from May 10, 1940 to May 10, 1941. This book will give you a look at that period from inside the Prime Minister’s world. If you’re a business leader juggling lots of challenges, you’ll take heart from Churchill’s performance.

George Marshall: Defender of The Republic by David Roll

George Marshall is one of the remarkable people in American history. He had a distinguished career in the Army, serving as Chief of Staff immediately before and during World War II. He also served as Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State. The Marshall Plan, under which America helped rebuild the countries and economies of Europe, is named for him.

So, what was the man like? In George Marshall: Defender of the Republic, author David Roll tells you the story of his life from youth in Uniontown, Pennsylvania to his death in 1959. Marshall is one of the great examples of a person who lived out their values despite challenges of all kinds. Roll’s book will show you how hard that can be but also the benefits of living a life of integrity.

Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller by Ron Chernow

There aren’t many first-rate biographies of business leaders. This is one of them. Read Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller to find out why John D. Rockefeller is both lauded and reviled. In the process, you’ll learn about the development of the oil industry. You’ll gain insight into how US business ideas changed in the period following the Civil War. You’ll learn how they changed again as the 20th century approached.

Don’t expect either a hatchet job or a hagiography.  Some biographers, like Allen Nevins, portrayed Rockefeller as a heroic character. Others, like Ida Tarbell, portrayed him as the consummate villain. Ron Chernow shows us how Rockefeller was both.

All three books are well-written and well-researched. All three will deliver insight, information, and perspective you won’t get from a typical business book.


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