His analyses of the criteria needed for success are succinct and mostly convincing. Get things right and, like Nelson, you will have streets, the tallest column in London and even a strain of gooseberry named after you. Get them wrong, as “the banal, soulless little weirdo” and “pathetic excuse for a human being” Adolf Hitler ultimately did, and you will destroy your nation and the very people who were once your most ardent followers.
...enthusiasm is not enough: his lectures have not translated easily into print. He flits over the surface of history and leaves much unnoticed or unexplained. One would have expected something less subjective and more substantial from the author of the outstanding biographies of Lord Salisbury and Churchill... Roberts has taken lessons and warnings from the past and squeezed them into nine short biographies. Hubris and nemesis are woven into a book that began life as a series of lectures delivered to the New York Historical Society.