King of the Mountain by Arnold M. Ludwig
The Nature of Political Leadership

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Synopsis

People may choose to ignore their animal heritage by interpreting their behavior as divinely inspired, socially purposeful, or even self-serving, all of which they attribute to being human, but they masticate, fornicate, and procreate, much as chimps and apes do, so they should have little cause to get upset if they learn that they act like other primates when they politically agitate, debate, abdicate, placate, and administrate, too." -- from the book King of the Mountain presents the startling findings of Arnold M. Ludwig's eighteen-year investigation into why people want to rule. The answer may seem obvious -- power, privilege, and perks -- but any adequate answer also needs to explain why so many rulers cling to power even when they are miserable, trust nobody, feel besieged, and face almost certain death. Ludwig's results suggest that leaders of nations tend to act remarkably like monkeys and apes in the way they come to power, govern, and rule. Profiling every ruler of a recognized country in the twentieth century -- over 1,900 people in all­­, Ludwig establishes how rulers came to power, how they lost power, the dangers they faced, and the odds of their being assassinated, committing suicide, or dying a natural death. Then, concentrating on a smaller sub-set of 377 rulers for whom more extensive personal information was available, he compares six different kinds of leaders, examining their characteristics, their childhoods, and their mental stability or instability to identify the main predictors of later political success. Ludwig's penetrating observations, though presented in a lighthearted and entertaining way, offer important insight into why humans have engaged in war throughout recorded history as well as suggesting how they might live together in peace.

 

About Arnold M. Ludwig

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Arnold M. Ludwig is Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Kentucky.
 
Published May 7, 2004 by The University Press of Kentucky. 496 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Ludwig (How Do We Know Who We Are?) in King of the Mountain: The Nature of Political Leadership compares human rulers to primates, arguing that male politicians, like their simian alpha-male cohorts, are adept at gaining, exercising and keeping power.

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Project MUSE

In his study, he uncovers a variety of inconsistencies that he labels five "caveats" arising from the political world that "often do not conform to what students learn in Political Science 101" (42), such as the fact that the labels and concepts typically applied to political systems often do not...

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Project MUSE

"I am forced to wonder," Ludwig writes, "whether Nature, in a streak of perversity, allowed humans to wage war as an instrument of political policy not for population control, as some Malthusian theorists have speculated, but to reduce friction between nations so that, once dominance was settled,...

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