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“Forged in Crisis:” Insight and 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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Considering Wallace: celebrating David Foster Wallace on his birthday

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Wondering what all the fuss is about, a reader new to the work of David Foster Wallace might wonder if the latest collection of essays by the author—Both Flesh and Not, now out in paperback—is a good place to start. Wallace (1962-2008) was lucky enough to have commercial and critical success both in his chosen field (fiction) and, shortly thereafter, as a nonfiction gun-for-hire. There are common themes and preoccupations in the fiction and the essays: tennis, precocity, the rewards and pitfalls of entertainment, mathematics, philosophy, etc. One of the reasons for this genre-porousness is Wallace’s earnest style. Discussions of the philosophical underpinnings of, say, children toiling at pro-level sports come across similarly in both his fiction and essays on the…

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