Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World


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Jerrold M. Post is Professor of Psychiatry, Political Psychology, and International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University. His books include When Illness Strikes the Leader: The Dilemma of the Captive King.; Political Paranoia: The Psychopolitics of Hatred; Know Thy Enemy: Profiles of Adversary Leaders and Their Strategic Cultures; and The Psychological Assessment of Political Leaders, with Profiles of Saddam Hussein and Bill Clinton. He received the Nevitt Sanford Award of the International Society of Political Psychology for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Political Psychology in 2002. Alexander George is Graham Stuart Professor of International Relations, Emeritus, at Stanford University.


"It is no surprise to Jerrold M. Post, the founder of the Center for the Analysis of Personality and Political Behavior at the C.I.A., that Saddam Hussein grew up to be one of the world's most dangerous dictators and a member of President Bush's axis of evil... As Dr. Post recounts in his new book, Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World, Mr. Hussein's father died, probably of cancer, in the fourth month of his mother's pregnancy with Saddam. Mr. Hussein's 12-year-old brother died, also of cancer, a few months later. The trauma left Saddam's mother, Sabha, so desperately depressed that she tried and failed to abort Saddam and kill herself. When Saddam was born, she would have nothing to do with him and sent him away to an uncle... 'Most people with that kind of background would be highly ineffective as adults and be faltering, insecure human beings.' But there is, Dr. Post said, an alternative path that a minority of wounded selves take: 'malignant narcissism,' the personality disorder that Dr. Post believes fueled Mr. Hussein's rise in Iraq. Perhaps most important, Dr. Post says, is that Mr. Hussein is a 'judicious political calculator,' not a madman."-The New York Times, May 15, 2004 "The crucial role of personality in shaping the political behavior of leaders of states and movements has been amply demonstrated in recent events, ranging from the Soviet demise to the 9/11 cataclysm and the Iraq war. In this seminal book, Post presents a variety of psychological theories, models, and methods to explain the behavior of leaders in times of crisis... Clearly, these essays are pioneering contributions and essential reading for leaders, policy makers, intelligence analysts, academic specialists, and the thinking public."-Choice, March 2005 "A study of the effects of the ways in which social background, childhood trauma, illness, cultural conditioning, and more influence the behavior of leaders. The author draws upon a broad variety of largely modern examples."-The NYMAS Review, No. 30 Spring 2004 "Understanding our opponents is vitally important in a world of terrorism. Jerrold M. Post has done many psychological profiles of foreign leaders for our presidents. In this book, he gives us valuable insights as to what we should be looking for."-Admiral Stansfield Turner, USN (ret.), Former Director of Central Intelligence "Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World is a highly sophisticated psychoanalytic exploration of famous political leaders as well as lowly assassins and terrorists. The rich collection of examples makes extraordinarily stimulating reading, illustrating the variety of psychic factors that drive the people who shape history."-Fred C. Ikle, Distinguished Scholar, Center for Strategic and International Studies, and former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy "At a time of urgent need to understand the motivations of bad as well as good leaders around the world, Jerrold M. Post offers acute insights and sophisticated analysis drawn from his mastery of leadership theory and his extensive experience in government. Leaders and Their Followers in a Dangerous World is a must-read in the age of Hussein, Kim Jong Il, bin Laden, and Milosevic, whom he analyzes among others."-James MacGregor Burns, Williams College "This is an extremely important book that all top U.S. national-security decision makers and students of international relations ought to read closely. Post's chapters on Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il and the mind of the terrorist are each worth the price of the book alone. Post is a singular talent who shows why this very important forgotten art needs to be brought back to full strength in the U.S. government."-Barry R. Schneider, Director, USAF Counterproliferation Center "In today's world, where high-tech industry and weaponry give individuals enormous power, it is more important than ever to understand the purposes and dynamics of leading personalities. We are fortunate that Jerrold Post has led the way in assessing the personalities of those who have shaped contemporary history. Post's insightful psychological profiles have informed a generation of policymakers. They should also inspire political scientists to advance the techniques of analyzing the psychodynamics of leaders who shape the lives of millions."-Richard H. Solomon, President, United States Institute of Peace "This book is an important and timely reminder of the complex interweave between personality and politics. Jerrold M. Post sheds light on how some leaders and their followers develop the capacity to gravely injure the common good."-Barbara Kellerman, Research Director, Center for Public Leadership, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

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