The pop cosmologist Erich von Däniken conjures up primordial heroes from the plain of Nazca and the temples of Palenque —extraterrestrial astronauts who strayed to this planet long ago and then vanished. Today heroes and leaders bred on the earth seem almost as scarce. "There is a very obvious dearth of people who seem able to supply convincing answers, or even point to directions toward solutions," says Harvard President Derek Bok. "Leadership," observes Northwestern University Political Scientist Louis Masotti, "is one of those things you don't know you need until you don't have it." In the U.S. and round the world,...

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