The Anatomy of Fire by Thomas L. Brown was the first 100%-online book about 21st Century leadership. Tom started to write the book in the late 1990s and published it in “chaplets.” Each chaplet was one segment of the final chapter, but Tom solicited feedback from readers after each chaplet was placed online — then he used that feedback to draft the rest of the chapter (and book). Preserved here in the final version of 2002, its original message endures: Society must never substitute placeholders for leaders.

The chapter links here are read-only PDFs, but they include the Foreword by Jim Collins and the artwork of H. L. “Mac” Thornton. The Quotable Fire [free PDF download] highlights quotes from the book that leaders most responded to. The Fire Poems [free PDF download] (used to open the last three chapters of the book) have a following all their own.

What is Fire about? What is progressive thinking? Who is a 21st Century Leader? Says Tom: There are hundreds of books on “leadership,” but the term is meaningless because too many “leaders” have become placeholders, people dedicated to preserving the status quo to maintain power and control, to extract personal wealth, or to promote self-aggrandizement.

I invite you to think back to the time when our planet looked much like the raw wonder of Yellowstone National Park. Since those days, leadership over time was first and foremost about the nurturing of powerful new ideas to make society better.

Thus, the 21st Century needs leaders who are discoverers of new ideas, who can win others to their point of view, who can acquire the resources to convert ideas into reality, who will stand by their ideas with steely resolve, and who are dedicated to improving mankind. Leaders are society’s vessels for progressive ideas; they are the unrelenting, unyielding, unremitting force for a new idea with the promise of positive change.