by Sam Reed | April 5th, 2010
One of the side benefits of recuperating from my recent surgery has been long blocs of reading time. I got four thick books as get-well gifts (including Douglas Brinkley’s “Wilderness Warrior,” about Teddy Roosevelt, from staff) and right now I’m plowing through an amazing book called “Citizens of London” by Lynne Olson. I heard a book review on NPR and was intrigued. It is about an unsung hero, a former governor of New Hampshire who succeeds Joseph P. Kennedy as Ambassador to Great Britain at the outbreak of World War II, and how he helped gain American support for the war and the British people.
I’ve been hearing about the blogosphere’s interest in people’s subjective list of Top 10 Influential Books. Since my office includes the State Library and I have gained a reputation as being quite a reader, my staff asked me to compile a list of 10 books that have made a big impact on me and my view of the world, about what leadership looks like and what lessons we can learn from history.
My degrees were in political science and history, and most of my adult career has been in state and local government, so it won’t surprise you that my favorite titles all deal with historical biographies, books about great leaders and great periods in our history, like civil rights, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Constitutional Convention. These books are all in my personal collection at my office in the Capitol, a daily reminder of the perspective and context I get from history. The central lesson I’ve drawn is that you try to discern what the right thing to do is, and then do it, rather than always try to figure out the political consequences. Great books can give us wonderful lessons on leadership and political craftsmanship. We should never stop learning.
So my list, in no particular order, are:
1. John Adams, by David McCullough.
2. Alexander Hamilton, by Ron Chernow
3. Washington Crossing, by David Hackett Fischer
4. A Wilderness so Immense, by Jon Kukla
5. Eisenhower, by Geoffrey Perret
6. FDR, by Jean Edward Smith
7. A Matter of Justice, by David Nichols.
8. Team of Rivals, Doris Kearns Goodwin
9. The Summer of 1787, David Stewart
10. Lincoln, David Donald
What are your most influential books? Please share your list by using the comment button. And happy reading!