Remembering James MacGregor Burns

Historian James MacGregor Burns at his home in Williamstown, MA. Thursday, August 23, 2007. (AP)

Historian James MacGregor Burns at his home in Williamstown, MA in 2007. (AP)

James MacGregor Burns was a Massachusetts man for much of his 95 years. He was born in Melrose and died in Williamstown. His death was announced Tuesday.

His name might not be well-known, but plenty of well-known people in positions of power and leadership knew his work, because Burns popularized a new way to study and understand leaders and leadership, particularly in Washington.

He served as a quiet adviser to presidents and ran for political office, but his work set the standard for objectivity.


Barbara Kellerman, author of many books on leadership and history and is the James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.


The New York Times: James MacGregor Burns, Scholar Of Presidents And Leadership, Dies At 95

  • “James MacGregor Burns, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and political scientist who wrote voluminously about the nature of leadership in general and the presidency in particular, died on Tuesday at his home in Williamstown, Mass. He was 95.”

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