John W. Gardner
224 pages (Jossey-Bass, 2003)

John Gardner, who defined an ethic of public service, left an enormous void when he died last year. This posthumously published book reminds us of his extraordinary presence, both as a visionary leader and a deeply reflective writer. Consisting of previously unpublished personal reminiscences, essays, and speeches, and excerpts from his well-known books, the volume combines intriguing insider’s stories with analyses of the operation of public institutions and profound insight into the general human condition. This “best of ” collection, skillfully edited by his daughter Francesca Gardner, goes a step beyond past works in synthesizing practical maxims and core values of public life. These essays illustrate how valuable – and rare – is the ability to combine reflective insight and principled action in the exercise of political leadership.