IT WAS a great invasion in the cause of liberty. Not 70 years ago, but two and a half millennia, when on 7 October 540 BC the army of Cyrus the Great entered Babylon by water. Beforehand, he misdirected the blockaded city by digging a ditch encircling its walls, as if settling his army in for a siege. Then, under cover of night, the brilliant general and architect of the Achmaenid Empire diverted the Euphrates into this massive ditch, and marched his troops into the heart of the city along the river bed.
This is just one remarkable tale in a fresh edition of Cyrus the Great’s ancient biography by Larry Hedrick, aimed at bringing his insights on leadership to the boardroom. Management guru Peter Drucker called it not just the first systematic study of leadership, but still the best.
The only Persian emperor most people have heard of these days is the tyrant Xerxes, thanks to the Hollywood blockbusters 300 and 300: Rise of an Empire, which retell his battle to invade Europe, and the heroic resistance of Ancient Greece.