Review by: Craig Lesser, founding partner, Pendleton Group, and former commissioner, Georgia Department of Economic Development

Craig Lesser

While COVID-19 has certainly created unimaginable challenges this year, it did open a few opportunities for personal growth. Among them was the time to the many read books I’d been meaning to pick up but had never gotten around to. 

It’s difficult to limit my reviews to only one book, so I will mention three of the most meaningful.

On trip to witness the Iowa caucuses in January, I discovered in the city of West Branch the boyhood home of President Herbert Hoover. Stopping to visit the presidential library there, I purchased Kenneth Whyte’s biography of the 31st president of the United States, Hoover: An Extraordinary Life in Extraordinary Times. It was quite an eye-opener to discover so many accomplishments of a person I solely associated with the Great Depression. 

In fact, as a private citizen during World War I, Hoover took almost sole responsibility for feeding the citizens of Belgium, whose supplies were being snatched by the German occupiers. And then after the war, Hoover was tasked by President Woodrow Wilson to lead the American Relief Administration, feeding many Europeans suffering from the toll of the war.

The second book I was so moved by was Erik Larson’s The Splendid and the Vile. Particularly in the midst of the political turmoil of 2020, it was stunning to better understand the overwhelming challenges faced by Winston Churchill in his first year as prime minister, and the extraordinary leadership he exhibited. Some politicians rise to the occasion, and some don’t.  Churchill did, serving as an example for not just politicians, but for the rest of us as well.

And, without a doubt, the most inspiring read was Jon Meacham’s His Truth is Marching On.

His recounting of the life and work of the late Rep. John Lewis reminded me that each day we can make a significant impact as we live by simple truths and offer hope to others. 

Editor’s notes: Global Atlanta will receive a 10 percent commission on any purchase of this book through the links on this page. also contributes 10 percent of the purchase price of each book to independent booksellers around the United States.

Each year, Global Atlanta asks influential readers and community leaders to review the most impactful book they read during the course of the year. This endeavor has continued annually since 2010. 

See last year’s full list of books on BookShop here, and all 2020 reader picks here. 

All books were chosen and reviews written independently, with only mild editing from our staff.