American Sketches by Walter Isaacson
Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane

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Synopsis

What are the roots of creativity? What makes for great leadership? How do influential people end up rippling the surface of history?

In this collection of essays, Walter Isaacson reflects on the lessons to be learned from Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton, and various other interesting characters he has chronicled as a biographer and journalist. The people he writes about have an awesome intelligence, in most cases, but that is not the secret of their success. They had qualities that were even more rare, such as imagination and true curiosity.

Isaacson reflects on how he became a writer, the lessons he learned from various people he met, and the challenges he sees for journalism in the digital age.

He also offers loving tributes to his hometown of New Orleans, which both before and after Hurricane Katrina offered many of the ingredients for a creative culture, and to the Louisiana novelist Walker Percy, who was an early mentor. In an anecdotal and personal way, Isaacson describes the joys of the "so-called writing life" and the way that tales about the lives of fascinating people can enlighten our own lives.
 

About Walter Isaacson

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Walter Isaacson, presidente del Instituto Aspen, ha sido presidente de la CNN y director ejecutivo de la revista Time. Es autor de Einstein, su vida y su universo, Benjamin Franklin: An American Life y Kissinger: A Biography, y es coautor, con Evan Thomas, de The Wise Men: Six Friends and the World They Made. Vive con su esposa en Washington, D.C.
 
Published November 14, 2009 by Simon & Schuster. 308 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The author, former managing editor of Time magazine, collects essays and other journalistic pieces focusing on the personalities behind significant figures in American history.

Oct 15 2009 | Read Full Review of American Sketches: Great Lead...

Publishers Weekly

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He maintains that Kissinger's foreign policy, rooted in stealth and surprise, mirrored and reinforced the darker side of his increasingly jealous patron, President Nixon, and goes on to reveal how Chief of Staff Alexander Haig undercut his rival.

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Publishers Weekly

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Most people's mental image of Ben Franklin is that of an aged man with wire-rim glasses and a comb-over, flying a kite in a thunder storm, or of the spirited face that stares back from a one-hundred-dollar bill.

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Publishers Weekly

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Following closely on the heels of Edmund Morgan's justly acclaimed Benjamin Franklin, Isaacson's longer biography easily holds its own.

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BC Books

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The selections are organized around themes like "Franklin and Other Founders," "Statecrafters," and "The Age of Technology, " and Isaacson adds an introductory essay on the writing life in which he attempts to define the relationship between non-fiction prose and writing that is considered creat...

Jun 02 2010 | Read Full Review of American Sketches: Great Lead...

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