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Ambition Summary

Ambition: For What by Deborah L. Rhode (Professor of Law, Professor of Law, Stanford Law School)

An engaging account of ambition, the forces that drive and constrain it, and whether it serves our deepest needs. Ambition is a dominant force in for human civilization, driving its greatest achievements and most horrific abuses. Our striving has brought art, airplanes, and antibiotics, as well as wars, genocide, and despotism. This mixed record raises obvious concerns about how we can channel ambition in the most productive directions. In Ambition, Deborah L. Rhode offers a comprehensive and engaging survey of the topic that focuses in particular on the nature of ambition in contemporary American life. To do this, she first explores three central focuses of ambition-recognition, power, and money-and argues that an excessive preoccupation with these external markers for success can be self-defeating for individuals and toxic for society. She then shifts to discussing the obstacles to constructive ambition and the consequences when ambitions are skewed or blocked by inequality and identity-related characteristics such as gender, race, class, and national origin. Rhode further addresses the ways that families, schools, and colleges might play a more effective role in developing positive ambition. Finally, she examines what sorts of ambitions contribute to sustained well-being, such as building relationships and contributing to society, rather than chasing extrinsic rewards such as wealth, power, and fame. Drawing upon leading thinkers on the topic and contemporary social science research while laying out an agenda for how ambition can be better developed, Ambition will force us reconsider the factors that shape our ambitions, and whether those ambitions meet our deepest needs and highest aspirations.

About Deborah L. Rhode (Professor of Law, Professor of Law, Stanford Law School)

Deborah L. Rhode was the Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law and the Director of the Center on the Legal Profession. She was also the author of 30 books and many scholarly and media articles in the fields of professional responsibility, leadership, and gender. Previously, she was the founding chair of the Section on Leadership of the Association of American Law Schools, the founding president of the International Association of Legal Ethics, a former president of the Association of American Law Schools, a founding director of Stanford's Center on Ethics, a former director of Stanford's Institute of Research on Women and Gender, and a former trustee of Yale University. She also worked as counsel to the House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee during the impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton. The nation's most frequently cited scholar on legal ethics, Rhode received the American Bar Association's Michael Franck award for contributions to the field of professional responsibility, the American Bar Foundation's W. M. Keck Foundation Award for distinguished scholarship on legal ethics, the American Foundation's Distinguished Scholar award, the American Bar Association's Pro Bono Publico Award for her work on expanding public service opportunities in law schools, and the White House's Champion of Change award for a lifetime's work in increasing access to justice.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction Part I: Targets of Ambition Chapter 2: Recognition Chapter 3: Money Chapter 4: Power Part II: Identity and Obstacles to Ambition Chapter 5: Gender Chapter 6: The Development of Ambition and the Role of Class, Race, Ethnicity, and National Origin Part III: Channeling Ambition Chapter 7: Families and Schools Chapter 8: Conclusion: Ambition for What? At What Cost Notes References Index

Additional information

Ambition: For What by Deborah L. Rhode (Professor of Law, Professor of Law, Stanford Law School)
Oxford University Press Inc
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