Richard Brookhiser
George Washington on Leadership.
Basic Books, 272 pages, $26

George Washington on Leadership seeks to answer the question of what a contemporary business executive, entrepreneur, or politico can learn from the career of a man deprived of his father at age eleven and possessed of little formal education who grew up in a rural portion of a colony far from its motherland as the third of six sons. How did someone who started out with so many disadvantages in life come to be so rich, so singularly admired, and so accomplished? And how did he do it even though he was by most accounts far from gifted as a public speaker and not witty or brilliant?

Washington acquired two advantages early on: fame and money. Fame from his role in fighting against the French during the Seven Years’ War (what we usually call the French and Indian War) and money partly through marrying well....


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