Review: A Higher Loyalty by James Comey

A Higher Loyalty

I couldn’t wait to read the book written by the ex – FBI director, James Comey. His book, A Higher Loyalty, Truth, Lies, and Leadership published by Flat Iron Books is not a literary masterpiece. Perhaps I assumed a seasoned lawyer would have a better flair for writing, but Mr. Comey’s writing style is more like a writing assignment for a college creative writing class. And he often repeats phrases like “fully armored black suburban.” I can only imagine his memos he wrote on his interactions with President Trump were written in this same way as though he were writing in a journal.

A Higher Loyalty

If the reader can get past his writing style, the book is worth the time and effort because the reader will undoubtedly learn interesting facts as I did on government protocol and certainly about the atmosphere inside the White House and the justice department. And if the reader only read or watched recent television interviews with Mr. Comey from his book tour, the reader would believe this book is all about President Trump. Mr. Comey lays out his case as though preparing for a trial on how he came to make decisions throughout his life and those in which may have ultimately led to his being fired as Director of the FBI.

James Comey – The bullied and the bully

Mr. Comey talks about his childhood and what led him to becoming a lawyer. I found myself weaving in and out of feeling sorry for him and being irritated at the same time about his portrayal of being bullied. But if the reader just sticks with him as he plods along they will soon find insightful nuggets into Mr. Comey’s personality, and as in the book’s title, his perspective on loyalty, truth, lies and leadership.

“I was never going to surrender to a group again simply because it was easy. And I was going to make sure my life had some meaning, because I’d already seen how fleeting life could be.” P.39

Leadership

Throughout the book Mr. Comey shares with the reader the people in his life who he saw as the leaders he would try to emulate and what he believes a leader should be. Other readers may come away from reading this book and surmise that Mr. Comey believes he is an example of a good leader. Again, I too felt this push-pull of my sympathies being played. He takes the reader through an exhausting ride both literally and figuratively on his way to becoming the FBI Director. Time and time again the reader will hear Mr. Comey remind those around him in Washington that the FBI must remain totally independent entity from the White House.

Truth and Lies

My hope, as I read A Higher Loyalty, is that the average American like myself would read Mr. Comey’s book. In laying out his case, particularly when it comes to the Trump and Clinton campaigns for the presidency, Mr. Comey provides non-classified details of the Clinton email and private server debacle and what would later would become known as the Russian investigation. It is fascinating to read the ex-FBI Director’s account of a no-win situation for the him and the justice department.

I am neither a Republican or Democrat. I am an Independent but no matter what side of the aisle you sit, I found reading about the demeanor of politicians and the names everyone will recognize an eye-opener. I was not surprised by some of the revelations and it may not have been necessary to detail people’s personal apparel and appearances or even that President Trump looked orange with white circles under eyes or even whether his hair is real, but take it for what Mr. Comey now admits as simply “an author trying to make the narrative interesting” as he has stated in interviews.

Mr. Comey’s description of his interactions with President Trump is the same behavior the American public has seen on television and in the President’s tweets on Twitter. By the end of the book, the reader will decide whether there was any justification in his firing as FBI director.

A Higher Loyalty

I found Mr. Comey to be honest, forthcoming about his own frailties and failings. (There are humorous parts in the book, but at times it feels like an inside joke and only he is on the inside.) He is a man committed to his values and I do believe him when he writes,

“The core of our nation is our commitment to a set of shared values that began with George Washington – to restraint and integrity and balance and transparency and truth. If that slides away from us, only a fool would be consoled by a tax cut or a different immigration policy. But I choose to remain optimistic.”

The second to last sentence may sound like a fired employee’s bitterness but after reading the book, the reader may believe differently. I still have many questions for Mr. Comey on truth, lies and leadership. I would love to have him and his wife, Patrice for dinner (although I would probably pee a little if he called to confirm). Perhaps I can even help recommend a few things for his next book and also persuade Patrice to write a book too.

Hoot Rating

Genre: Biographies & Memoirs, Nonfiction Politics & Social Sciences, Nonfiction
Politics & Social Sciences

On a scale of 1 to 5 Hoots, A Higher Loyalty, Truth, Lies, and Leadershipwritten by James Comey earns a 4 hoot rating based on content and effort.

4 hoot rating

Happy Reading!

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Any Book Recommendations?

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(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved

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!

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Any Book Recommendations?

Give me a hoot here at Hoot@TheBloggingOwl.com. 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