Leaders as Readers

Macgregor Duncan and I have a piece out today in the Australian Literary Review, looking at what Australian politicians should and do read. Full text here, and results from our survey of federal politicians here. We had a lot of fun writing the piece (which ranges afield from my usual economics research), so I hope you’ll enjoy it.

We didn’t do as much as one could with the full dataset of pollies’ responses, so part of the reason for posting all our survey responses is the hope that others might analyse them a little further.

2 thoughts on “Leaders as Readers”

  1. A rather minor point, but there is a certain circularity when you determine that its hard to think of a great leader whom was not also a (wo)man of letters. Not having the acquaintance of the vast majority of history’s leaders, we can only rely on the written record. The most reliable insight into the thinking of any given leader would be their own written work. We can only gain insight into those whom were literate or actively promoted literacy (Charlemagne and Kublai Kahn for instance). The leaders we observe as the most thoughtful and literate may well be the best, but they are only observable through their literacy. A great leader will be literate when the criteria for greatness is literacy.

    That said, literacy can bring benefits. A serially (and disastrously) incompetent politician whom was wrong about effectively every major issue of his day (and when he was right was right for the wrong reasons) can be rescued and indeed celebrated if he has a strong turn of phrase (see one W. Churchill)


  2. Disappointed that you didn’t get a response from Kevin Rudd. From reliable sources I understand that he blocks out space regularly for reading (serious non-fiction) and has been known to bail up visiting authors an invitation to the Lodge for conversation about their writing.


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