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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 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. 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.
Benjamin Franklin is the Founding Father who winks at us. An ambitious urban entrepreneur who rose up the social ladder, from leather-aproned shopkeeper to dining with kings, he seems made of flesh rather than of marble. In bestselling author Walter Isaacson's vivid and witty full-scale biography, we discover why Franklin seems to turn to us from history's stage with eyes that twinkle from behind his new-fangled spectacles. By bringing Franklin to life, Isaacson shows how he helped to define both his own time and ours. He was, during his 84-year life, America's best scientist, inventor, diplomat, writer, and business strategist, and he was also one of its most practical -- though not most profound -- political thinkers. He proved by flying a kite that lightning was electricity, and he invented a rod to tame it. He sought practical ways to make stoves less smoky and commonwealths less corrupt. He organized neighborhood constabularies and international alliances, local lending libraries and national legislatures. He combined two types of lenses to create bifocals and two concepts of representation to foster the nation's federal compromise. He was the only man who shaped all the founding documents of America: the Albany Plan of Union, the Declaration of Independence, the treaty of alliance with France, the peace treaty with England, and the Constitution. And he helped invent America's unique style of homespun humor, democratic values, and philosophical pragmatism. But the most interesting thing that Franklin invented, and continually reinvented, was himself. America's first great publicist, he was, in his life and in his writings, consciously trying to create a new American archetype. In the process, he carefully crafted his own persona, portrayed it in public, and polished it for posterity. Through it all, he trusted the hearts and minds of his fellow "leather-aprons" more than he did those of any inbred elite. He saw middle-class values as a source of social strength, not as something to be derided. His guiding principle was a "dislike of everything that tended to debase the spirit of the common people." Few of his fellow founders felt this comfort with democracy so fully, and none so intuitively. In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin's amazing life, from his days as a runaway printer to his triumphs as a statesman, scientist, and Founding Father. He chronicles Franklin's tumultuous relationship with his illegitimate son and grandson, his practical marriage, and his flirtations with the ladies of Paris. He also shows how Franklin helped to create the American character and why he has a particular resonance in the twenty-first century.
Selected and annotated by the author of the acclaimed Benjamin Franklin: An American Life, this collection of Franklin's writings shows why he was the bestselling author of his day and remains America's favorite Founder and wit. As a twelve-year-old apprentice in his brother's print shop, Benjamin Franklin taught himself to be a writer by taking notes on the works of great essayists such as Addison and Steele, jumbling them up, and then trying to recreate them in his own words. By that method, he recalled in his Autobiography, he was encouraged to think he might become a "tolerable" writer. In fact, he became the best, most popular, and most influential writer in colonial America. His direct and practical prose shaped America's democratic character, and his homespun humor gave birth to the nation's unique brand of crackerbarrel wisdom. This book collects dozens of Franklin's delight-ful essays and letters, along with a complete version of his Autobiography. It includes an introductory essay exploring Franklin's life and impact as a writer, and each piece is accompanied by a preface and notes that provide background, context, and analysis. Through the writings and the introductory essays, the reader can trace the development of Franklin's thinking, along with the birth of the nation he and his pen helped to invent.
From Isaacson, the bestselling author of "Benjamin Franklin," comes the first full biography of Albert Einstein since all his papers have become available--a fully realized portrait of a premier icon of his era.
By the author of the acclaimed bestseller Benjamin Franklin, this is the first full biography of Albert Einstein since all of his papers have become available. How did his mind work? What made him a genius? Isaacson's biography shows how his scientific imagination sprang from the rebellious nature of his personality. His fascinating story is a testament to the connection between creativity and freedom. Based on newly released personal letters of Einstein, this book explores how an imaginative, impertinent patent clerk -- a struggling father in a difficult marriage who couldn't get a teaching job or a doctorate -- became the mind reader of the creator of the cosmos, the locksmith of the mysteries of the atom and the universe. His success came from questioning conventional wisdom and marveling at mysteries that struck others as mundane. This led him to embrace a morality and politics based on respect for free minds, free spirits, and free individuals. These traits are just as vital for this new century of globalization, in which our success will depend on our creativity, as they were for the beginning of the last century, when Einstein helped usher in the modern age.
By the time Henry Kissinger was made secretary of state in 1973, he had become, according to the Gallup Poll, the most admired person in America and one of the most unlikely celebrities ever to capture the world's imagination. Yet Kissinger was also reviled by large segments of the American public, ranging from liberal intellectuals to conservative activists. Kissinger explores the relationship between this complex man's personality and the foreign policy he pursued. Drawing on extensive interviews with Kissinger as well as 150 other sources, including U. S. presidents and his business clients, this first full-length biography makes use of many of Kissinger's private papers and classified memos to tell his uniquely American story. The result is an intimate narrative, filled with surprising revelations, that takes this grandly colorful statesman from his childhood as a persecuted Jew in Nazi Germany, through his tortured relationship with Richard Nixon, to his later years as a globe-trotting business consultant.
FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE BESTSELLING BIOGRAPHIES OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AND ALBERT EINSTEIN, THIS IS THE EXCLUSIVE BIOGRAPHY OF STEVE JOBS. Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years--as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues--Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing. At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering. Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted. Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple's hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.
Després dhaver entrevistat en més de quaranta ocasions a Steve Jobs en els darrers dos anys, a més dun centenar de perdones del seu entorn, familiars, amics adversaris i col·legues, aquesta és la biografia definitiva dun del icones indiscutibles del nostre temps, la crònica de lagitada vida i abrasiva personalitat del geni de qui la seva creativitat, energia i perfeccionisme ha revolucionat sis industries: la informàtica, el cinema danimació, la música, la telefonia, les tabletes i ledició digital.En un món que busca com construir les bases duna economia digital, Jobs és un símbol de linventiva i de la imaginació pràctica. Conscient que la millor forma de crear valor en el segle XXI és connectar la creativitat amb la tecnologia, va fundar una empresa en la que impressionants salts de la imaginació van de la ma amb espectaculars fites tecnològiques. Tot i que Jobs va col·laborar amb el llibre, no va voler cap control sobre el contingut, ni tan sols el dret a llegir-lo abans de la seva publicació. No va defugir cap tema i va animar a la gent que coneixia a parlar amb franquesa: "He fet moltes coses de les que no em sento orgullós, com deixar la meva novia embarassada als vint i tres anys i com m vaig comportar en aquell moment, però no hi ha cap cadàver al meu armari que no pugui sortir a la llum".Jobs parla amb sinceritat, a vegades brutal, de la gent amb la que ha treballar i contra la que ha competit. De la mateixa manera, els seus amics, rivals i col·legues ofereixen una visió sense edulcorar de les passions, els dimonis, el perfeccionisme, els desitjos, el talent, els trucs i lobsessió per controlar-ho tot que modelen la seva visió empresarial i els innovadors productes que ha aconseguit crear.Jobs podia desesperar als que lenvoltaven. Però la seva personalitat i els seus productes han estat sempre interrelacionats, igual que el hardware i el software dApple formen un potent sistema integrat. La seva historia, per tant, és plena de lliçons sobre innovació, caràcter, lideratge i valors. Lhistoria dun geni capaç denfurismar i seduir a parts iguals.
La muerte de Steve Jobs ha conmocionado al mundo. Tras entrevistarlo en más de cuarenta ocasiones en los últimos dos años, además de a un centenar de personas de su entorno, familiares, amigos, adversarios y colegas, Walter Isaacson nos presenta la única biografía escrita con la colaboración de Jobs, el retrato definitivo de uno de los iconos indiscutibles de nuestro tiempo, cuya creatividad, energía y afán de perfeccionismo revolucionaron seis industrias: la informática, el cine de animación, la música, la telefonía, las tabletas y la edición digital. Consciente de que la mejor manera de crear valor en el siglo xxi es conectar la creatividad con la tecnología, fundó una empresa en la que impresionantes saltos de la imaginación van de la mano de asombrosos logros tecnológicos. Aunque Jobs colaboró con el libro, no pidió ningún control sobre el contenido, ni siquiera el derecho a leerlo antes de la publicación. No rehuyó ningún tema y animó a la gente que conocía a hablar con franqueza. Jobs habla con sinceridad a veces brutal sobre la gente con la que ha trabajado y contra la que ha competido. De igual modo, sus amigos, rivales y colegas ofrecen una visión sin edulcorar de las pasiones, los demonios, el perfeccionismo, los deseos, el talento, los trucos y la obsesión por controlarlo todo que modelaron su visión empresarial y los innovadores productos que logró crear. Su historia, por tanto, es el retrato de una fascinante vida: la de un genio capaz de enfurecer y seducir a partes iguales.
Includes Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, Einstein
A captivating blend of personal biography and public drama, The Wise Men introduces the original best and brightest, leaders whose outsized personalities and actions brought order to postwar chaos: Averell Harriman, the freewheeling diplomat and Roosevelt's special envoy to Churchill and Stalin; Dean Acheson, the secretary of state who was more responsible for the Truman Doctrine than Truman and for the Marshall Plan than General Marshall; George Kennan, self-cast outsider and intellectual darling of the Washington elite; Robert Lovett, assistant secretary of war, undersecretary of state, and secretary of defense throughout the formative years of the Cold War; John McCloy, one of the nation's most influential private citizens; and Charles Bohlen, adroit diplomat and ambassador to the Soviet Union.adroit diplomat and ambassador to the Soviet Union. Together they formulated a doctrine of Communist containment that was to be the foundation of American policy, and years later, when much of what they stood for appeared to be sinking in the mire of Vietnam, they were summoned for their steady counsel. It was then that they were dubbed "the Wise Men." Working in an atmosphere of trust that in today's Washington would seem quaint, they shaped a new world order that committed a once-reticent nation to defending freedom wherever it sought to flourish.
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