Robert E. Lee On Leadership

This is H. W. Crocker appearing on the old C-SPAN show, “Booknotes” talking about his book, Robert E. Lee on Leadership.

The history he portrays is horrible. He has a huge amount of historical errors in this discussion.

I considered not using this, but it does give me an opportunity to talk about the various “X on Leadership” books that are on the shelves. The fact is these so-called “lessons” are merely selective vignettes the author picks out of context to show what he predetermined was a “lesson” one should learn. It’s not history, it’s the author trying to buttress their own thoughts on leadership and management by plucking various details out of the context of an individual’s life. These out-of-context vignettes don’t necessarily prove the correctness of the concepts presented. This book appears to be one of the worst examples of this practice. Toward the end of the program, host Brian Lamb reads a selection from the book which undoubtedly expresses Crocker’s own prejudices against certain managerial practices, with Crocker trying to appropriate Lee to lend legitimacy to his personal viewpoint.

The video’s description reads, “H.W. Crocker talked about his book Robert E. Lee On Leadership: Executive Lessons in Character, Courage, and Vision, published by Prima Publishing. The book profiles the life and career of the Confederate Army General. The author pays special attention to General Lee’s career as a farmer and president of the school now known as Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. He examines the general’s character, vision and spirit and how these principles can be applied in today’s marketplace.”

Don’t expect anything of use to a student of the war from this talk or the book, and based on the discussion I wouldn’t expect it to be of much use as a leadership guide either.



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