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Frederick Douglass

“Forged in Crisis:” Inspiration on the Power to Lead

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There are so many books on leadership it may seem there are no more “secrets” of leadership to be revealed to us. So for anyone writing on the subject, the challenge is: (1) make the subject more interesting, more vivid, and (2) give the reader the realistic reassurance that, yes, maybe I, too, can be a leader. In this, Nancy Koehn admirably succeeds in her work, Forged in Crisis: The Making of Five Courageous Leaders (Scribner). Koehn, a professor and historian at the Harvard Business School where she holds the James E. Robison chair of Business Administration, writes a historical narrative of five extraordinary people who mastered a crisis in order to prevail and became great leaders in the process: polar explorer…

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Five Hidden Pearls of African-American Literature

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As an African-American writer, I have long been a student of black writers from many different genres who have influenced, inspired, challenged, enlightened, and entertained me. We’ve all heard of the obvious ones: the speeches of Frederick Douglass, the poetry of Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Alice Walker’s The Color Purple, and Toni Morrison’s Beloved, just to name a few. But there’s a treasure trove of lesser-known works of African-American writing that have had a big impact on me and deserve to be read. Here’s my list of books that you might not know about. (I’ve chosen books in different categories in order to avoid having my special favorites competing in my head with every other…

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