James Comey didn’t write a tell-all. He wrote a handbook.

What does ethical leadership look like?

After his high-profile dismissal as director of the FBI, James Comey might predictably have written a memoir of his life that vindicates his career in public service. Readers get some of that, with stories of the women and men who mentored him as a lawyer and an inside look at what it was like to prosecute leading members of Mafia crime families.

We might also look for exciting new information about what goes on at the highest levels of government and about the FBI investigations of Clinton’s emails and Russian electoral manipulation that brought Comey into the spotlight in 2016. But there is almost none of that. We learn a bit about how it feels to sit in the Oval Office with several very different presidents, but Comey insists on principle that what was classified remains classified, and he is candid about the fact that he knows nothing about how these investigations have developed since he was abruptly fired on May 9, 2017. Apart from a few personal details, there is nothing here that we could not have read in the newspapers.

A Higher Loyalty is instead a handbook on ethical leadership. The stories about his mentors, superiors, and subordinates each contain a pointed lesson about how to maintain an organization that is transparent, truthful, and focused on its central mission. Former FBI director Robert Mueller and attorney general John Ashcroft contribute to those in­sights, as do presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, each in very different ways. Special attention goes, too, to his wife, Patrice, who keeps him focused on the main thing precisely by reminding him that he is not the main thing.