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Conquerors and Liberators: War Leaders Who Shaped Our World

We were joined by Andrew Roberts and Jeremy Paxman for an investigation into the essential leadership skills that can be applied in times of both war and peace.

Video coming soon.

Managing a successful Premier League football team or a major company takes extraordinary fortitude and foresight. But try leading a nation of millions – and then persuading them to follow you into war, with all the pain and sacrifice that entails. That’s real leadership.

So what makes for a wartime leader? This question has fascinated historian Andrew Roberts for decades and prompted him to write his forthcoming book Leadership in War. On November 13 Roberts will be joined by Jeremy Paxman for a fascinating discussion about the qualities demonstrated by wartime generals and heads of state throughout history. All were driven by a sense of mission and an unconquerable self-belief, whether, as in Winston Churchill’s case, it stemmed from an upbringing that emphasised his right to lead and rule, or, as with Margaret Thatcher, it was the realisation that she could lead in a way that the men around her seemed incapable of doing.

We tend to think of leadership as an inherently good thing, but, as the examples of Hitler and Stalin demonstrate, it is morally neutral. Whether agents of good or evil, did these important figures nevertheless have something in common? And are there particular qualities that tend to bring success and others that doom even the most promising leaders to failure?

Join us for an investigation into the essential leadership skills that can be applied in times of both war and peace.



Andrew Roberts

Historian and author

Biographer and historian whose books include Salisbury: Victorian Titan; Masters and Commanders; The Storm of War and Napoleon the Great. His book Churchill: Walking with Destiny was acclaimed as 'undoubtedly the best single-volume life of Churchill ever written' by the Sunday Times and was a major bestseller in the UK and USA.

Jeremy Paxman

Award-winning journalist, author and broadcaster

Award-winning journalist, author and television presenter, best known for presenting Newsnight and University Challenge. He has written and presented numerous documentaries – on the history of the British Empire, Churchill’s funeral and the effect of the First World War on Great Britain. His many books include Great Britain’s Great War; Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British; and The English: A Portrait of a People.


Speakers are subject to change.