Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan hosts a bilateral meeting with Japanese Minister of Defense Takeshi Iwaya at the Pentagon, Jan. 16, 2019. (DoD photo by Tech Sgt. Vernon Young Jr.)

You can learn about leaders from the books that inspire them. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis frequently turned to "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius to put things into perspective – both in combat and in the vipers nest known as Washington, D.C.

Now the torch has been passed to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who looks to more recent history for leadership lessons. One book he often recommends "Freedom's Forge," about how American industry teamed up with the War Department during World War II to build more ships, planes, and tanks than Germany and Japan could possibly match.

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