There’s a popular belief that “leaders are readers.” Reading can challenge you, open doors to opportunities to engage with others, or it can inspire you to integrate a habit into your leadership style. From Shakespeare's complete works to an exposé on Dick Cheney's controversial tenure, faculty across Eberly College weigh in the best books they thought leaders should read.

1. The Activist WPA [Writing Program Administrator]: Changing Stories about Writing and Writers 

By Linda Adler-Kassner 

How well scholars in a discipline articulate their own definition can influence not only issues of image but the very success of the discipline in serving students and its other constituencies … Linda Adler-Kassner calls upon composition teachers and administrators to develop strategic programs of collective action that do justice to composition’s best principles … In “The Activist WPA,” she makes a case for developing a more integrated vision of outreach, English education, and writing program administration. 

2. Alexander Hamilton 

By Ron Chernow 

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow presents a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation. 

“Great book about a fascinating person/ life.” - Scott Crichlow, Department of Political Science 

3. Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency 

By Barton Gellman 

In “Angler,” Gellman takes on the full scope of Cheney’s work and its consequences, including his hidden role in the Bush administration’s most fateful choices in war: shifting focus from al Qaeda to Iraq, unleashing the National Security Agency to spy at home, and promoting cruel and inhumane methods of interrogation. 

“‘Angler’ is chock-full of detail on how and why Dick Cheney was the U.S.’s most powerful vice president.” - Scott Crichlow, Department of Political Science 

4. Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People 

By G. Richard Shell 

As director of the renowned Wharton Executive Negotiation Workshop, Professor G. Richard Shell has taught thousands of business leaders, administrators, and other professionals how to survive and thrive in the sometimes rough-and-tumble world of negotiation. His systematic, step-by-step approach comes to life in this book, which is available in over ten foreign editions and combines lively storytelling, proven tactics, and reliable insights gleaned from the latest negotiation research. 

5. Complete Works of William Shakespeare 

“Shakespeare was fascinated by the successes and failures of leadership, but in particular, the three plays focusing on Prince Hal (who became Henry V) offer excellent lessons on leadership: Henry IV Part I and II, and Henry V.” - Ryan Claycomb, Department of English and Honors College 

6. The Dance of Leadership: The Art of Leading in Business, Government and Society 

By Robert B. Denhardt and Janet V. Denhardt 

This book explores the art of leadership by examining the perspectives, training, and insights of artists, most particularly in the fields of music and dance. The authors look at how these people learn their craft, practice their skills, and attain mastery of their art. Then they adapt these lessons from the arts to the experiences of successful leaders in all fields. 

“Both leadership and dance seek to connect people to one another by forging emotional bonds and creating social energy. Finally, both leadership skills and dance technique are honed through routine practice, allowing one the capacity to endure in either form.” - Renée K. Nicholson, Multi- and Interdisciplinary Studies Program 

7. Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement: A Radical Democratic Vision 

By Barbara Ransby 

In this deeply researched biography, Barbara Ransby chronicles Baker’s long and rich political career as an organizer, an intellectual, and a teacher, from her early experiences in depression-era Harlem to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Ransby shows Baker to be a complex figure whose radical, democratic worldview, commitment to empowering the black poor, and emphasis on group-centered, grassroots leadership set her apart from most of her political contemporaries. 

“(Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement) is an excellent portrait of a very fine leader.” - Krystal Frazier, Department of History 
8. Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a  Storm-Ravaged Hospital 

By Sheri Fink 

After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. 

“Five Days at Memorial,” the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of healthcare rationing. 

“Fabulous book about the ethical decisions doctors had to make at a hospital in New Orleans during Katrina.” - Cari Carpenter, Department of English

9. Groupthink Versus High- Quality Decision Making in International Relations 

By Mark Schafer and Scott Crichlow 

Mark Schafer and Scott Crichlow identify the factors that contribute to good and bad policymaking, such as the personalities of political leaders, the structure of decision-making groups, and the nature of the exchange between participating individuals. Analyzing 39 foreign-policy cases across nine administrations and incorporating both statistical analyses and case studies, including a detailed examination of the decision to invade Iraq in 2003, the authors pinpoint the factors that are likely to lead to successful or failed decision-making, and they suggest ways to improve the process. 

10. Hard Times: Leadership in America 

By Barbara Kellerman 

Barbara Kellerman argues that Americans focus too narrowly on leaders, and even on followers, while ignoring an essential element of leadership: context. This book is a corrective. It enables leaders to track the terrain that they must navigate in order to create change. 

“Barbara Kellerman’s ‘Hard Times: Leadership in America’ is really fantastic on thinking about the contexts for leadership.” - Ryan Claycomb, Department of English and WVU Honors College 

11. How Long, How Long? African-American Women in the Struggle for Civil Rights 

By Belinda Robnett 

Drawing heavily on interviews with actual participants in the American Civil Rights Movement, this work retells the crusade as seen through the eyes and spoken through the voices of African- American women participants. 

12. Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World: The Psychology of Political Behavior 

By Jerrold Post 

In this book, the author draws on psychological and personality theories, as well as interviews with individual terrorists and those who have interacted with particular leaders, to discuss a range of issues: the effects of illness and age on a leader’s political behavior; narcissism and the relationship between followers and a charismatic leader; the impact of crisis-induced stress on policymakers; the mind of the terrorist, with a consideration of “killing in the name of God;” and the need for enemies and the rise of ethnic conflict and terrorism in the post-Cold War environment. The leaders he discusses include Fidel Castro, Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il, and Slobodan Milosevic.

13. Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson III 

By Robert Caro 

“Master of the Senate” takes Johnson’s story through one of its most remarkable periods: from 1949 through 1960, in the United States Senate. 

“It teaches you about LBJ, it teaches you about how he led a notoriously tough-to-lead institution, and you’ll learn tons about the politics of the 1950s in the process.” - Scott Crichlow, Department of Political Science 

14. Measure of a Leader: The Legendary Leadership Formula That Inspires Initiative and Builds Commitment in Your Organization 

By Aubrey C. Daniels and James E. Daniels 

Structuring their message around the indicators of follower behavior that predict a leader’s influence, Aubrey and James Daniels show exactly how to impact the growth of a business, its customers, and the marketplace. Even more important, the authors’ system gives managers the tools to adapt their approach, creating positive behavior that can improve the performance of their employees. 

15. Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist 

By Bill McKibben 

Bill McKibben is not a person you’d expect to find handcuffed and behind bars, but that’s where he found himself in the summer of 2011 after leading the largest civil disobedience in 30 years, protesting the Keystone XL pipeline in front of the White House. 

“In his memoir, McKibben describes what it takes to lead a grassroots movement (in his case, a movement to reverse climate change) opposed by a well-financed and politically powerful adversary. By employing new and old media, and by engaging in old-school protests, McKibben demonstrates how a leader, with the help of allies young and old, can make a difference in, and for, the world.” - Mark Brazaitis, Department of English 
16. Painful Choices: A Theory of Foreign Policy Change 

By David Welch 

“Painful Choices” has three main objectives: to determine whether the general theory project in the field of international relations can be redeemed, given disappointment with previous attempts; to reflect on what this reveals about the possibilities and limits of general theory; and to inform policy. 

“It makes important points regarding why change is so hard to accomplish, and how you can predict the times/places where it’s more likely to occur.” - Scott Crichlow 

17. Rapid Change: Immediate Action for the Impatient Leader 

By Joe Laipple 

“Rapid Change” provides leaders with a recipe for translating the proven science of behavior change into a process that helps get change quickly, easily and with impact. Author Joe Laipple puts over 20 years of experience to work as he illustrates this process through examples from real leaders and includes the specific business outcomes they achieved by changing their own behavior, influencing change in others, and enhancing the cultures they led. 

18. Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer 

By August Deckle Edge 

Sir Ernest Shackleton has been called “the greatest leader that ever came on God’s earth, bar none” for saving the lives of the twenty-seven men stranded with him in the Antarctic for almost two years. Written by two veteran business observers and illustrated with ship photographer Frank Hurley’s masterpieces and other rarely seen photos, this practical book helps today’s leaders follow Shackleton’s triumphant example. 

“The book is an easy read, is entertaining, and even more interesting for anyone who already knows the story of the Endurance expedition.” - J. Ryan Shackleton, Department of Geology and Geography 

19. Team of Rivals 

By Doris Kearns Goodwin 

Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln’s political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president. 

20. The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization 

By John C. Maxwell 

People who desire to lead from the middle of organizations face unique challenges. And they are often held back by myths that prevent them from developing their influence. Dr. Maxwell, one of the globe’s most trusted leadership mentors, debunks the myths, shows you how to overcome the challenges, and teaches you the skills you need to become a 360° leader. 

21. Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 

By Anna Deavere Smith 

Anna Deavere Smith’s stunning new work of “documentary theater” in which she uses verbatim the words of people who experienced the Los Angeles riots to expose and explore the devastating human impact of that event. 

“More than anything, Smith teaches leaders (and others) how to listen carefully to every kind of person and how to measure the words of different people next to one another.” - Ryan Claycomb, Department of English and WVU Honors College 

22. Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do 

By Studs Terkel 

Consisting of over 100 interviews with everyone from a gravedigger to a studio head, from a policeman to a piano tuner, this book provides an enduring portrait of people’s feelings about their working lives.