As one of Britain's most successful military leaders of the Second World War and a serious thinker in his own profession Montgomery was the ideal person to write a book on what made a good leader. Produced after his autobiography in this volume he looked at a series of leaders, both contemporary and historical, and attempted to analyse what (if anything) made each of them a great leader.
This book is of interest for two different reasons - first as a serious look at leadership and second for the insight it provides into Montgomery's opinions of some of his contemporaries, including Churchill, Eisenhower, Alanbrooke, de Gaulle, Mao, Khrushchev and Stalin, all of whom he worked with or at least met several times.
Some of Montgomery's views do now seem rather old-fashioned, with an emphasis on Christianity that was already a little dated when the book was originally published . Some of his political views also come across as rather naïve - having suggested that Eisenhower was taken in by Stalin, he then goes on to be taken in by Mao and by the Soviet leaders he met. In contrast some of his views on the future of industrial relations seem rather accurate.
This new edition of the book includes a chapter comparing Eisenhower and Churchill that was excluded from the original because both men were alive at the time, and might have taken offense (Eisenhower in particular, despite Montgomery's efforts to prevent that).
Anyone who has seen footage of Montgomery speaking will realise that he wrote almost exactly as he spoke - in some places it is almost impossible not to mentally read the text in his voice!
Montgomery's views on what made a good leader are still interesting and useful in their own right, but for most of our readers this book will be of the greatest value for the insight it gives us of Montgomery's opinions of some of his own great contemporaries.
1 – Leadership – What is it?
2 – Military Command – Some Reflections
3 – Military Command – Some Examples
4 – Political Leadership – Alfred and Cromwell
5 – Abraham Lincoln
6 – Jawarhalal Nehru
7 – General de Gaulle
8 – Churchill and Alanbrooke
9 – A Great Civil Servant – Sir James Grigg
10 – A Captain of Industry – Nuffield
11 – Leadership of Youth
12 – Leadership in the West
13 – Communist Leadership
14 – A Backwards Look – Moses
15 – Conclusions
16 – The Epilogue
Appendix – Churchill and Eisenhower
Author: Field Marshal The Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2009 edition of 1961 original