Quick Book Reviews and Recommendations

I been so busy lately and the LYS Nation has had so many things to talk about that I have gotten behind on my book reviews. Since my last post on this subject, I have finished four books. Here are my short reviews, presented in order from least useful to most useful (from a school leadership perspective).

Free: The Future of a Radical Price, by Chris Anderson
A primer on the economics and profits of “free” services in the digital age. From a school leadership perspective, there is not a reason to recommend this book. But it is an interesting read if you follow business trends.

The Power of Small: Why Little Things Make All the Difference, By Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval
The authors celebrate the little things and the attention to details that have led to huge successes in the business and social sectors. I’m a fan of the concept, but not this particular book. The book is long on anecdotes and short on substance. Don’t waste your time reading this one. Read anything by Collins, Gladwell, Schmoker, or Fullan instead.

Classroom Walkthroughs to Improve Teaching and Learning, by Donald S. Kachur, Judith A. Stout and Claudia L. Edwards
The authors attempt to provide an overview of classroom observation tools and how to best use them. Don’t waste your time or money on this one. Use Powerwalks and just talk to E. Don Brown (or Montelongo, or Seabolt, or Laird, or McDonald, or Davis, or the other Cain) for 10 minutes and you will be light years ahead of the information in this book.

Revolutionary Strategies of the Founding Fathers: Leadership Lessons from America’s Most Successful Patriots, by Scott Thorpe
Revisiting familiar territory, the author takes the practices of our Revolutionary Era Leaders and provides examples of how the same practices have been successfully implemented in modern situations. If you are not a student of early American leadership practices, then this book provides a decent introduction. If on the other hand you are well read on the subject, this book will not cover any new ground. Overall, the book is an interesting, quick read.

Revolutionary Management: John Adams on Leadership, by Alan Axelrod, Ph.D.
Similar in theme to Scott Thorpe’s book, this book is a more difficult read, but much more useful and rewarding. Using Adams’ actual writings as the subject for each short chapter, the author then provides commentary on the advice and then outlines some practical considerations. If you are in the business of leading people, John Adams is a great historical touchstone. His advice on overcoming the frailties of the individual to achieve organizational success was ahead of his time and is still relevant today. Read this book.

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