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    Storyboard18 | BookStrapping: 'The Chancellor' by Kati Marton

    Storyboard18 | BookStrapping: 'The Chancellor' by Kati Marton

    Storyboard18 | BookStrapping: 'The Chancellor' by Kati Marton
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    By Storyboard18   IST (Published)


    Introducing ‘BookStrapping’, the pithiest book review in town. This week, our reviewer, Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta, picks up ‘The Chancellor: The Remarkable Odyssey of Angela Merkel’ by Kati Marton.

    Those of us who have grown up watching German Chancellor Angela Merkel making it to power lists over the last couple of decades will be delighted with the latest book by Kati Marton, simply titled 'The Chancellor.’

    While running a country and running a company could be just like a case of ‘potato potahto,’ her ability to maintain longevity of power (she ruled for 16 years and then some) through relevance - is a lesson for all.

    This book is like a prescription for what ‘built to last’ brands are all about; ‘hunger, hustle and hard choices’--in good measure. But first, the slam dunk--the woman is unusual and how! Born Angela Kasner, she was a pastor’s daughter raised in Templin, a Soviet-controlled East German town. Her  role model was the Nobel Prize winning physicist Marie Curie; before her political acumen shone through like a gangster’s diamond-studded dental fixtures. Well maybe not such a great simile--but you get the point.

    Here are a few insights from the book on what makes brand Angela Merkel ‘enduring'.

    Talk it out:

    Much of Merkel’s political genius is attributed to her willingness to talk ‘with’ adversaries rather than ‘over’ them, her skill at negotiating without compromising on what was most important to her. Read the portions about how she handled Russian aggression to understand this. Besides, every corporation is divided by opinion, in its own unique way. She knew how to keep it together.

    Stay invisible: She was famously elusive. Merkel’s willingness to let her work do the talking and the wisdom to stay out of the papers and even Twitter (she had no urge to Trump-et) served her well. Her assiduity and self-acceptance was stellar. “I have no charisma,” she once complained to Tony Blair! "Merkel behind closed doors is far more forceful than Merkel at the podium," the book says. Don't we know that the world needs more leaders who can stand firmly on terra firma than those who reach for triggers like popcorn. Merkel was formidably unexcitable.

    What crisis?: She was known to take advantage of crises to enact bold change. She routinely appointed political rivals to her cabinet and worked with their policies so that they had no platform to run against her. What a way to keep power while holding onto one’s moral convictions! The book also talks about her complicated relationship with Barack Obama--the Snowden revelation that America spied on her private phone was the lowest point in their relationship!

    Give credit: She always had the humility to allow others to take credit for things done in tandem. This helped her bring Germany back to the centre stage of world politics and global opinion.

    Always be pragmatic: She married Ulrich Merkel at 23. It didn’t last long. The marriage was in part a practicality, Ulrich later suggested--married students were more likely to get an apartment.

    This book is instructive in its truthful banality--it has no surprises and no shock value. But to understand the real value of Angela Merkel’s famed ‘discretion’ and ‘stability’ on her path to success, here’s a test for you. Find out who Joachim Sauer is. You’ll have your answer.

    -- the critic, Reeta Ramamurthy Gupta, is a columnist, biographer and bibliophile. She is credited with the internationally acclaimed Red Dot Experiment, a decadal six-nation study on how ‘culture impacts communication.’ She's passionate about promoting the reading habit.

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