A leading thinker recommends five books about their field of interest. This month, the topic is Leadership and Winning, with books chosen by Tony Blair’s former director of communications and strategy, Alastair Campbell.
Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln Doris Kearns Goodwin
This is just about the best book on politics I’ve ever read. You have to be a bit careful with somebody like Lincoln because there is such mass of material out there, but what Doris Kearns Goodwin has managed to do is to give it a freshness and a depth that is very rare—it’s an unputdownable historical account.
The whole idea about leadership, I think, is not just about the leader, but about the team that you build and how you use the different skills of the people around you. And there are an awful lot of lessons in Lincoln’s story for people in politics today.
Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World Mikhail Gorbachev
The reason I wanted to pick this book is that politicians with really big ideas are still the means by which a huge amount of change in the world is driven. It is fabulous that two Russian words, perestroika and glasnost, entered the global language as a result of one leader, Gorbachev, deciding he wanted to change his country.[When it came out] I think I reviewed it and I remember thinking: this is a big figure and a big moment. But reading it now you think, wow—the world has changed so much, the former Eastern Bloc has changed so much, and a lot of it is because of this man, and you can see this book as such a building block towards it.
Bodyline Autopsy David Frith
Leadership most obviously counts in politics, but it’s also very important in sport. And the reason I chose Bodyline Autopsy is because this is the nearest you’ll get to cricket history. Frith has talked to everybody, read everything, looked at everything from every possible angle and has then written what is probably a very fair and balanced account of the most extraordinary Ashes series ever.
I think politics can learn a lot from sport and sport can learn…