James MacGregor Burns

James MacGregor Burns was an American historian and political scientist, presidential biographer, and authority on leadership studies. He was best known for his contributions to the transactional, transformational, aspirational, and visionary schools of leadership theory. His work shifted the focus of leadership studies from the traits and actions of great men to the interaction of leaders and their constituencies as collaborators working toward mutual benefit. Burns was the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Government Emeritus at Williams College and Distinguished Leadership Scholar at the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Watch James MacGregor Burns  talks to Jepson Professor Al Goethals about his thoughts on, and how he first became interested in, studying Leadership.


Congress on Trial: The Legislative Process and the Administrative State (Harper, 1949).
Government by the People (textbook) (1952 (20th ed. 2003), (Prentice-Hall).
Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox (Harcourt, Brace, 1956).
John Kennedy: A Political Profile (Harcourt, Brace, 1960).
The Deadlock of Democracy: Four-Party Politics in America (Prentice Hall, 1963).
Government by the People: The Dynamics of American National Government (1963).
Presidential Government: The Crucible of Leadership (Houghton-Mifflin, 1965).
Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1970) (1971 Pulitzer Prize for History).(ISBN 0-15-602757-7).
Uncommon Sense (1972).
Edward Kennedy and the Camelot Legacy (1976).
Leadership (Harper Collins, 1978) (ISBN 0-06-010588-7).
The Vineyard of Liberty (Alfred A. Knopf, 1982) (ISBN 0394505468).
The Power to Lead: The Crisis of the American Presidency (Touchstone Books, 1984).
The Workshop of Democracy (Alfred A. Knopf, 1985) (ISBN 0394505468).
The Crosswinds of Freedom (Alfred A. Knopf, 1989) (ISBN 0394512766).
Cobblestone Leadership: Majority Rule, Minority Power (University of Oklahoma Press, 1990).
A People’s Charter: The Pursuit of Rights in America (with Stewart Burns) (Knopf, 1991).
The Democrats Must Lead: The Case for a Progressive Democratic Party (with William Crotty) (1992).
Dead Center: Clinton-Gore Leadership and the Perils of Moderation (with Georgia Jones Sorenson) (1999).
The Three Roosevelts: Patrician Leaders Who Transformed America, with Susan Dunn (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2001) (ISBN 0-8021-3872-1).
Transforming Leadership: A New Pursuit of Happiness (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003) (ISBN 0-87113-866-2).
George Washington (with Susan Dunn) (ed. Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.) (Times Books, 2004).
Encyclopedia of Leadership (with Georgia Jones Sorenson and George R. Goethals) (2004).
Running Alone: Presidential Leadership — JFK to Bush II: Why It Has Failed and How We Can Fix It (Basic Books, 2006).
Packing the Court: The Rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of the Supreme Court (Penguin Press, 2009) (ISBN 1594202192).
Fire and Light: How the Enlightenment Transformed Our World (St. Martin’s Press, 2013) (ISBN 9781250024893).