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Book Review: Guerilla Leader, T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt

As part of my commitment to read and review 12 books in an effort to be active in my own personal development, a commitment made on the SQL Cruise back in June, I’ve completed another book, Guerrilla Leader: T. E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt by James J. Schneider.

This was not the book I was scheduled to read. I’m still reading it, but, frankly, it’s boring. This book came to my attention, a history book that is also an exploration of leadership, and I got excited. I’ve long been a student of history and I’ve had a fascination for World War I for a long time. I have over twenty books on the subject that I’ve read. So the chance to combine reading about a subject that I already enjoy with a subject that I’m trying hard to improve on was too much to avoid.

I won’t discuss the history in James J. Schneider’s book here because it isn’t appropriate to this blog. I will point out that I got a sense that he was rushing through bits and pieces of it in an effort to get to the points he wanted to make about leadership and I thought that the rush detracted from the book, just a little.

But the leadership sections of the chapters were very good. I think the use of the story of an actual person attempting to take charge of something as wild as the desert revolt provided an excellent prop for making points about leadership in general. Each chapter ended with a discussion about the things that Lawrence learned, mistakes he made, and things he got right, all in, and around, leadership. I found it instructive and useful, but not really useful enough. I think two more chapters, one outlining the major points of leadership that the book was going to explore at the beginning, and another summarizing the points at the end would have made for a more complete book. As it was, you got the sense that the author wanted to mainly write the history, and the leadership stuff was a hook. If that’s the case, then the history was processed too quickly and the leadership stuff could have been reduced.

I’m walking away from the book with things to think about, which is the main point of a personal development book, at least I think so. I wouldn’t say I have any tasks to add to my list from reading this book, but I do have a few more insights in what it means to be a leader, how difficult, yet important, communication is, and that leadership is not about titles.

This is my October book, slightly delayed because of all the travel. You’ll see another post shortly with yet another book for November. That will make this  #5 and the next will be #6 for my year.

The Scary DBA

I have twenty+ years experience in IT. That time was spent in technical support, development and database administration. I work forRed Gate Software as a Product Evangelist. I write articles for publication at SQL Server Central, Simple-Talk, PASS Book Reviews and SQL Server Standard. I have published two books, ”Understanding SQL Server Execution Plans” and “SQL Server 2008 Query Performance Tuning Distilled.” I’m one of the founding officers of the Southern New England SQL Server Users Group and its current president. I also work on part-time, short-term, off-site consulting contracts. In 2009 and 2010 I was awarded as a Microsoft SQL Server MVP. In the past I’ve been called rough, intimidating and scary. To which I usually reply, “Good.” You can contact me through grant -at- scarydba dot kom (unobfuscate as necessary).


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