James MacGregor Burns


James MacGregor Burns is a Pulitzer Prize-winning presidential biographer and a pioneer in the study of leadership. Author of more than two dozen books, Burns has devoted his professional life to the study of leadership in its various forms. His latest book, Packing the Court, will be published later this month. In it, he discusses the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review and reminds us that the Constitution does not grant the Court this authority to strike down congressional legislation. Burns reveals how, throughout American history, clashes between presidents and the Supreme Court have threatened the nation’s welfare — and may do so again. In 1971, Burns won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for his biography, Roosevelt: Soldier of Freedom (1970). He is also the author of the acclaimed Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox. His book, Leadership, published in 1978, is still considered the seminal work in the field of leadership studies. His theory of transactional and transformational leadership has been the basis of more than 400 doctoral dissertations. Among his many other books are Deadlock of Democracy, Presidential Government, The Vineyard of Liberty, The Workshop of Democracy, The Crosswinds of Freedom, Government by the People (a textbook in its 22nd edition), Cobblestone Leadership, Congress on Trial, A People’s Charter, The Three Roosevelts, George Washington, Dead Center: Clinton-Gore Leadership, Transforming Leadership, biographies of John F. Kennedy and Edward Kennedy, Running Alone: Presidential Leadership from JFK to Bush II, and most recently, Packing the Court: The Rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of the Supreme Court. Burns received his B.A. from Williams College, his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard, and he attended the London School of Economics. He is the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Government Emeritus at Williams College and serves as Distinguished Leadership Scholar at the Academy of Leadership, which bears his name, at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he is past president of the American Political Science Association and also of the International Society of Political Psychology. Burns was the Democratic nominee for the 1st Congressional District of Massachusetts in 1958 and was also elected a delegate to four Democratic National Conventions. While in the military, Burns served as combat historian in the Pacific Theater from 1943-1946; he was awarded the Bronze Star and four Battle Stars.