Review: Forged in Crisis, The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times, written by Nancy Koehn

Each of us will be faced with a crisis at some point in our lives. We will either lead or be led through it. Either way, author Nancy Koehn in her first book for popular audience identifies five ordinary individuals in history who persevere through their own crisis to become the leaders we are to emulate or who we would be wise look for to lead us.

Forged in Crisis, The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times, written by Nancy Koehn and published by Scribner, An Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc. is a must read.

Forged in CrisisThe author, Nancy Koehn

On CBS’ Face the Nation television program on November 26, 2017, the program gathered a leadership panel of four authors, Ron Chernow, Mark Updegrove, Robert Dallek and Nancy Koehn to discuss their new books on leadership. As my husband and I sat there sipping our morning coffee, I marveled at the contrast between the Nancy Koehn and the other authors. Ms. Koehn spoke with such passion and enthusiasm (when given the chance) about not only the topic of leadership, but the historical leaders upon which her book is based.

“I must read her book!” I commented to my husband to which I thought I had given a strong enough indicator for a great Christmas gift… obviously, I was wrong. I purchased the gift myself shortly after the Christmas holiday.

As written on the back flap of the book cover, Nancy Koehn is a historian at the Harvard Business School, where she holds the James E. Robison chair of Business Administration. She earned her MA and PhD degrees at Harvard and has coached leaders from many organizations.

Although Ms. Koehn is not a first-time author, Forged in Crisis is her first book as I mentioned previously for ordinary readers like myself. This is not the usual history book filled with dense detail proving the author knows their stuff and the reader is forced to slog their way through, but one cleverly written in rich reverence that swept me off my feet into the world in which her subjects lived.

“Are you ready to hear the call to action contained in each of these stories? Ernest Shackleton, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Rachel Carson have something important to offer each of us right now, as we try to craft lives of purpose, dignity, and impact. Read these stories and get to work. The world has never needed you and other real leaders more than it does now.” Page 9, Introduction

To say that I inhaled the words on the pages is an understatement.

From the first page of the Introduction to the last page of the Acknowledgements I was captivated by Ms. Koehn’s writing prowess, imagery and historical knowledge to show me how these five individuals who came from different circumstances were made to lead through the crisis at hand.

“For all the diversity among these five individuals, the threads that connect them are considerably more important. The most obvious is that these leaders were made, not born.” P437

As she shares each of their unique life stories, Ms. Koehn weaves together these threads into a remarkable tapestry the reader should view today. Throughout each chapter and particularly near the end of the chapter she coaches the reader on the relevancy of the information she presents.

The familiar and the unfamiliar

The book began with a written portrait of polar explorer, Ernest Shackleton and the book ends with ecologist, Rachel Carson. While I may not have remembered Ernest Shackleton from history class, I do remember the impact of Rachel Carlson even though I did not recognize her name. Raised on a farm in southeast Michigan, I am all too familiar with the use and the effects of the poison, DDT in the early 1970’s. The use of DDT in the military and in farming for weed control would be the reason my stepfather believed was the culprit of his multiple myeloma in which he ultimately succumbed to in 2007.

The stories of their bravery and leadership were just as intriguing as the familiar stories as the other three leaders she includes in her book. Yet even in the familiar stories of these other three individuals, Ms. Koehn breathes new insight and a fresh perspective to the historical figures of President Abraham Lincoln, Abolitionist Frederick Douglass and Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

What makes a leader? Read Forged in Crisis and then let us have our own discussion!

Conclusion: The Power of Courageous Leadership

I find it almost prophetic on Ms. Koehn’s part to have started her work on this book project over 10 years ago and have its’ debut at such a crucial time in our history today. While I encourage readers to begin reading Forged in Crisis from page one of the Introduction to the end of the Acknowledgements, let me just say the last chapter and especially the Acknowledgements chapter give the reader an impressive glimpse into this author’s amazing research to bring what she terms her “literary child” into this world for readers to not only learn about the qualities of leadership we must all pursue but to enjoy stepping back in time to read about these fascinating historical individuals.

Judging by her impressive Harvard credentials and career, the author is no doubt a leader as a historian and leadership coach, but in this reader’s humble opinion, Nancy Koehn became an even greater leader forged from her own crisis in this ten-year writing journey. I only wish I could have been one of her students at Harvard.

Forged in crisis page markersI have page markers throughout this reference treasure, Forged in Crisis, The Power of Leadership in Turbulent Times that my husband, Vinny Sal will just have to buy his own copy (or maybe a gift for Father’s Day.)

Hoot Rating

Genre: Historical Memoirs, Business & Economics, Politics & Government

On a scale of 1 to 5 Hoots, Forged in Crisis, The Power of Courageous Leadership in Turbulent Times, written by Nancy Koehn earns an enthusiastic 5-Hoot Rating.

1 to 5 Hoot Scale

Happy Reading!

The Blogging Owl


Any Book Recommendations?

Give me a hoot here at I would love it if you would follow this blog and at The Blogging Owl on Facebook, as well as, on Twitter @TheBloggingOwl.

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved

Review: Uncommon Type, Some Stories by Tom Hanks

My oldest son’s girlfriend gave me for Christmas, Tom Hanks’ book, Uncommon Type, Some Stories, published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York, © 2017. It is his first collection of fiction. Firstly, it was a very thoughtful gift. Secondly, how did she know I love short stories and how did she know I love Tom Hanks? And lastly, why did I not know about this book?? For the love of scotch, it’s a New York Times Best Seller!

Proverbial nice guy, now author

I love Tom Hanks, the actor and from what I can gather from his appearances off-screen, he is an all-around good guy. I can go on and on how much I love Tom Hanks, the actor. I have watched all his movies not once, but several times. There are too many Tom Hanks to have just one favorite. I loved them all.

I knew Tom Hanks has a collection of typewriters. At the beginning of each chapter in his book is a black and white photo of a typewriter. Each chapter a different typewriter. I love typewriters too, and I found the photos just as intriguing as the short stories themselves.

Tom Hanks book.jpg

Uncommon Type, Some Stories

As I started reading the first short story in the book, Three Exhausting Weeks, I heard Tom Hank’s voice narrating the story in my head. Then I began to see Tom Hanks as the narrator in the story. Now there isn’t anything wrong with Tom Hank’s voice. He has a nice, comforting voice. And as I have said, I love Tom Hanks, the actor but I couldn’t concentrate on the story because, I kept envisioning, well, Tom Hanks.

Fortunately, after a few stories in the book, Tom Hank’s voice began dissipating and I was able to really read the stories myself. I loved the stories, some more than others, even the first story, Three Exhausting Weeks because that story has been well just so like Tom Hanks. The stories are much like stories you would see Tom Hanks, the actor. If you like Tom Hanks movies, you will enjoy his first collection of short stories.

The book’s aesthetics

I am curious as to why the publisher printed this book in its’ size and format. The book is 8-1/4” by 5” with teeny tiny type. The cover is attractive enough, but the font type is so damn small! There are 17 short stories in this collection and certainly enough to make the book look legitimate in length even in a bigger font.

Hoot Rating

Genre: Fiction, Short Stories

On a scale of 1 to 5 Hoots, Uncommon Type, Some Stories, written by Tom Hanks earned a 4-1/2 Hoot Rating.

1 to 5 Hoot Scale 4 and half star


On my personal Facebook page on Christmas Day, I polled my friends and family:

Facebook Poll
I guess I don’t have very many friends and family because I only received 9 votes…. though I did receive some interesting comments.

My point of the poll was to see if others felt the same as I do about audiobooks. Obviously, not since the poll and the comments were in favor of listening to audiobooks are the same as reading them. While I have nothing against audiobooks because they provide storytelling enjoyment while driving in the car or for “readers” who suffer from dyslexia, for example; but I do NOT believe it is the same as reading the book myself. If listening to an audiobook were the same as reading the book, there would be less imaginative books being written.

Here’s my logic.

If I am listening to the story being told by someone else, I am not imagining the story in my own voice in my head. When I read I am imagining the story without the celebrity of a narrator, who may read the same exact words at a different tempo, with a different inflection or tone of voice which in my opinion could alter the story’s scenery in mood or environment. I don’t find audiobooks to be enjoyable. I want to come away from the story with my own interpretation of the story and I would hope it would be much more interesting than someone reading it to me.

Is it cheating? Only if you told me you read the book when in fact you listened to being read to you. Otherwise, it is just going to see the play, musical or movie. And as we all know, the book is ALWAYS better than the movie.

Happy Reading!

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The Blogging Owl

Any Book Recommendations?

Give me a hoot here at I would love it if you would follow this blog and at The Blogging Owl on Facebook, as well as, on Twitter @TheBloggingOwl.


(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved


2018! Get ready, set, turn the page

My husband, Vinny Sal marvels how I can read more than one book at a time. Well, not really AT THE SAME time, but I usually am reading 3 books. I may be reading a reference book, a book of poetry and an inspirational book. Or, I may be reading a crime mystery, a collection of short stories, and a horror novel. Since the 3 books are not from the same genre that is why it isn’t difficult for me to have 3 books going at the same time.

sshh trying to read

A new year. A new book journal.

I already have my reading and book journal started for 2018. Of late, I have been using Moleskine’s XL Cahier Journals for all my different journals. These Moleskine journals are flexible but sturdy and fit nicely into my messenger bag AKA purse. (I detest technology journals of any kind. It is easier for me to write than tap, tap, tap and fuss with auto-correct! For the love of scotch! Where’s my fountain pen?)

In the front of the journal I write the date, the book’s title and the book’s author that I am reading. And starting on the back page of the journal, I list the books that sound interesting or that I want to read. When the front of the journal and the back of the journal meet, I start a new book journal.

Reading Challenges

These past weeks I have been searching online for a reading challenge list. One that I found interesting was from

Another good reading challenge list is from children’s author, Julie Stroebel Barichello’s website, She ran across the following excellent reading list in 2015 from the Goodwill Librarian’s Facebook page:


2018 Reading Goal

My goal here at The Blogging Owl is to post more book reviews than last year. As I have mentioned in my previous blog post, my preference is to read new authors who have just published their first book although I’m not fussy. I just like finding new authors to love!

These reading challenge lists help me to expand my search in different genres and reading age levels. The Blogging Owl posts hoot ratings from 1 to 5 on book reviews here and shared on social media. I also post reviews on the Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble websites.

1 to 5 Hoot Scale

Any Book Recommendations?

Give me a hoot here at I would love it if you would follow this blog and at The Blogging Owl on Facebook, as well as, on Twitter @TheBloggingOwl.

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Happy Reading!

The Blogging Owl

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved