Tue, 19 November 2019

6:45 pm - 8:00 pm

Why Our Leaders Fail

David Runciman


Portland Hall

4-12 Little Titchfield Street, London


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Why do Presidents and Prime Ministers succeed or fail? Is it the structure of our governments, or the content of their characters? Drawing on examples from Thatcher to Obama, Blair to Trump, David Runciman provides a blueprint for effective leadership in an age lacking good leaders.

What are the limits of power for presidents and prime ministers? And what really accounts for the failures of our political leadership in the US and UK?

Lyndon Baines Johnson, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Barack Obama, Gordon Brown, Theresa May and Donald Trump: each had different motivations, methods and paths, but they all sought the highest office. And yet, when they reached their goal, they found that the power they had imagined was illusory. Their sweeping visions of reform faltered. They faced bureaucratic obstructions. But often the biggest obstruction was their own character.

Cambridge Professor, author of How Democracy Ends and host of the acclaimed podcast Talking Politics David Runciman joins the How To Academy to explore the limitations of high office and how the histories of those who achieved the very pinnacles of power helped define their governments. This series of portraits demonstrates the traits that lead to a successful term in office – and offers a How To Guide for aspiring and established leaders everywhere.

Praise for David Runciman:

“One of the most luminously intelligent books on politics to have been published for many years” John Gray, New Statesman

“Scintillating … thought-provoking … Runciman’s flair for turning a pithy and pungent phrase is one of the things to admire about his writing”- Observer

“Bracingly intelligent … a wonderful read” – Guardian

“Full of intriguing new lines of thought” – FT

“An excellent book: it is well-written, evenly paced, accessible, non-academic in tone but very much so in rigour and thoughtfulness” – LSE Review of Books