Sacred Ground: Leadership Lessons from Gettysburg & The Little Bighorn by Jeff Appelquist

Sacred Ground: Leadership Lessons from Gettysburg & The Little Bighorn
Jeff Appelquist
Beaver’s Pond Press (2010)
ISBN 9781592983230
Reviewed by Joseph Yurt for Reader Views (12/10)


The events of the Civil War and the cultural differences of the North and South, intertwined with the diametrically opposed views of white settlers and native peoples with regard to use and ownership of the land, is rife with lessons for today’s aspiring leaders in all fields of endeavor. Thus, many professional articles, books and training seminars are available that make the case for the relevance of the study of this history as a resource for today’s business battlefield.

Author Jeff Appelquist’s “Sacred Ground: Leadership Lessons from Gettysburg & The Little Bighorn” is a new selection in this category which applies his effective “storyteller” style to the recounting of history, reinforced with succinctly written leadership lessons as takeaways for the reader. Although this is Appelquist’s first book, it has received early recognition. It scored 1st place in the Writer’s Digest Self Published Book Awards of 2010 in the Nonfiction Category and was chosen as the Winner of the 2010 National Indie Excellence Award for Military History.

The author asserts that “…this is not primarily a history book,” rather, its focus is on practical leadership skills; by his own admission though, there is plenty of history in the book.  He does indeed clearly connect his historical accounts to skills that he contends outstanding leaders, past and present, have in common:  creating common purpose; building strong relationships and trusts; communicating clearly and sharing information; seeking self-knowledge and learning; showing energy and passion; making good decisions.

While not everyone especially enjoys history, Appelquist “the storyteller” tells about people, rather than just dates and chronologies that made “…history so boring to us in school.” While the Civil War stories in the first several chapters engaged and entertained me, I found about midway through the book that the author’s passion for including many details and minutia in each story began to make for more labored reading.  His Leadership Lessons are stories as well, some motivational (I found the lessons gleaned from Magic Johnson business profile to be inspirational), and all are thought provoking.

Even if you are not a history buff, “Sacred Ground: Leadership Lessons from Gettysburg & The Little Bighorn” clearly demonstrates to readers that “…stories from the past still have power to inform our lives in the present.” And, today’s aspiring business leaders will most certainly recognize the value of the supporting Leadership Lessons. This book is an important addition to what has already been written on the subject.

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