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From ancient times to the present day, here are indispensable insights on political power and leadership as expressed in the novels, plays, and poetry of the world’s greatest artists and intellectuals. Adapted from a course taught at Harvard by Pulitzer Prize—winning author Robert Coles, Political Leadership features scenes, stories, and speeches that pierce to the core of how and why some lead and others follow.

In Felix Holt, the Radical, George Eliot observes that progressive reformers can be even more self-serving than their conservative counterparts; in The Prime Minister, Anthony Trollope suggests that honest men must cope with the corruption of politics–or leave leadership entirely to the crooked; and the works of Nadine Gordimer and George Orwell reveal that those who overturn tyrants often envy their power and repeat their mistakes. Anyone trying to understand today’s confused and violent world will be both challenged and inspired by this unique and important collection.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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