The perspectives in this book follow a pattern set out by Isaiah Berlin in his essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox.” According to Berlin the hedgehog knows one big thing, and the fox knows many little things. The hedgehog thinks and acts according to a coherent vision of reality. The fox pursues ends that may not be related and may even be contradictory, not reflecting an overriding principle.
Berlin applies his insight to writers. Dante was a hedgehog. Shakespeare was a fox. We know Dante’s vision in all its complexity. It is not all clear what Shakespeare believed in his rich understanding of human nature.
In this volume author Erwin Hargrove follows Berlin’s lead in comparing two English politicians, Harold Macmillan and Margaret Thatcher. Through the same lens of hedgehogs and foxes, he compares six American presidents. And in between, Hargrove analyzes the leadership styles of Edmond Burke, Abraham Lincoln and Shakespeare’s English Kings.