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American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane | [Walter Isaacson]

American Sketches: Great Leaders, Creative Thinkers, and Heroes of a Hurricane

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 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.

©2009 Walter Isaacson; (P)2009 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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  •  
    DAVID Salem, OR, United States 11-04-11
    DAVID Salem, OR, United States 11-04-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not Really Sketches"

    This book would be more honestly titled "Walter Isaacson's political opinions about everything". There are sketches in the book but only as context for Walter to opine about current events and how he would have done things had he been king of the world. You won't be surprised to learn that he thinks George Bush is really evil and Obama might be the Messiah. Maybe that is the intended slant for sales purposes. Well read, however.

    9 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larry Newell Fort Worth, TX, US 09-25-12
    Larry Newell Fort Worth, TX, US 09-25-12 Listener Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Better Title: Isaacson's Opinions"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    It was doomed from the start.


    What was most disappointing about Walter Isaacson’s story?

    Title was very misleading.


    What aspect of Cotter Smith’s performance would you have changed?

    The material he had to read.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    Too few to mention.


    Any additional comments?

    Enjoyed the Jobs bio, but Sketches was a waste.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gerardo Austin, TX, United States 09-02-13
    Gerardo Austin, TX, United States 09-02-13 Member Since 2011

    Businessman, Technologist, Marketer. Loves to learn and enjoys books. Mostly nonfiction plus historic novels.

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    "Enjoyable and Insightful - Get it"

    After enjoying each of Isaacson's Einstein, Jobs and Franklin biographies, I decided to get this audiobook. I was concerned there would be a lot of repeat material, but there is not much really.

    This is an enjoyable book. It is told as a story, you don't feel like you are listening to chapters of discrete information. The stories are interesting, relevant and educational.

    The last third of the book includes a random interview with Woody Allen about his affair with his stepdaughter and then a section on the future of publishing. Both chapters feel out of place completely, I have no idea why the author or the published would include them here. But, since the first two thirds were excellent, I will give them this one chance.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George SANTA FE, NM, United States 05-15-13
    George SANTA FE, NM, United States 05-15-13 Member Since 2004
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    "Very Disappointing"

    I was all ready to give this book five stars. Discussions about the author's choice individuals who influenced history in the 20th century: I learned a lot about Albert Einstein, for example. That's the reason that I got the book in the first place.

    However....during the last 20% of the book; the author, a journalist, reverted to his favorite causes. One was how customers should pay for the content in the changing news business--a self licking ice cream cone; in my opinion. I thought that irrelevant to the book's theme. Do that again, Walter Isaacson, and you've lost at least one reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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