I recently finished listening to A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, by James Comey, the former director of the FBI. I will discuss in detail a few things about the book; normally I may warn of spoilers, but if my review spoils the book, then you didn’t pay attention to the news in 2016 or 2017. Spoiler Alert! Donald Trump gets elected president and later fires Comey as FBI director!
Now, before I really get into the details, I want to preface this blog with I am not a partisan; although I used to be. I had, and have, strong objections to both major candidates and believe them to be a choice between more or less the same brand of ugly, with slightly different wrappers, but I digress. I am fully aware you may not see things the same way, and I’m okay with that.
I thought the book was well written and engaging. Comey presents the lessons and stories in his work very thoughtfully and does a good job ‘bringing the reader along’. I believe his message is very appropriate and timely given the current administration, and the overall need of America to embrace ethical leadership.
I’m not sure how long this post may get, so I am going to break it into a few pieces. Out of the the numerous topics covered in the book I found myself thinking about a few central aspects.
- The focus of the book – the higher loyalty to which all leaders hold themselves to lead from the ‘light’.
- The decision to ‘speak or conceal’ with regards to the Clinton email investigation.
- The concept of going dark, its connection to cryptography, and its usage as an allegory for ethical leadership.
I am, for better or worse, a current events sponge; I always have been. It’s a habit I picked up from my mother, who as she likes to say it, ‘knows a little about a lot of topics’. I read or watch the BBC, NPR, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, Vox & the Atlantic on a weekly basis to get a variety of perspectives and to understand how each side likes to spike their coolaid. Somewhere in between the rhetoric and the spin is some version of the truth; good luck sorting it out.
My interest in reading Comey’s book was primed after watching him speak at press conferences during the election cycle and then later testify before congress or appear on late-night. My initial impression was that he seemed like a man of integrity, a straight shooter, perhaps even like a boy scout. What really peaked my interest was what the president had to say about him. I saw Trump speak very positive of Comey early on in the administration; but he speaks positively of people like Putin, so I take that with a grain of salt. Fast forward a few months and I also watched Trump flip on Comey and start to call him unflattering names, in an unsurprising twist.
Beyond the presidents take of the man I also watched how the partisans reacted to him. It seemed like both sides had a fair amount of disdain for him, the left for how he ‘sunk’ Clinton, and the right for how he ‘leaked.’ After taking both sides ‘views’, listening to what the man had to say for himself and reading his book I’d like to say I am impressed with his character and ethos. He’s definitely the kind of guy I’d like to get a beer with should I ever have such an opportunity.
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