Who are my favorite authors? When it comes to non-fiction. I'm a fan of authors like Bill Bryson, Robert Caro, and Walter Issaacson. I am constantly reading books on a variety of different topics. Some of these books are bad, others extraordinary, and, too often, forgettable. Here are some books I have recently read that I'd recommend:
Ron Chernow's Grant. A long but very readable book on Ulysses Grant who is being rediscovered as a leader in the last few years. I have previously read Ronald White's recent book on Grant. Both fit together nicely to give you a wonderful portrait of an amazing leader.
Erica Benner's Be Like a Fox. In a perfect world I would teach an entire seminar on Machiavelli and Caro. This recent book places Machiavelli within Florentine culture brilliantly. At times, Machiavelli was seen as evil. Yet his insights about power, influence, and leadership in books like The Prince have incredible staying power.
In the last few years I have become interested in things our nation has done wonderfully. Too many people complain about all of our problems. But the US has done amazing things. One is the Marshall Plan. In the late 1940s the United States spent, in today's dollars, over $100 billion helping Europe get back on its feet after the Second World War. This book tells that story--all of the politics and challenges proponents faced.
This is a delightful academic book on how personal magnetism and charisma became so important in political dialogues in the United States. It focuses on the late 19th and early 20th century yet everything you read in the book seems applicable to today.