General Powell may have undertaken this book as a form of paid political test marketing, but it turns out to be a success of an altogether different kind. We don't learn from this book if Powell is presidential material, but his recounting of the various steps of his career give us an unrivaled view of the ins and outs of military bureaucracy and shows how the modern American military, with its consistent emphasis on can-do attitudes and actual results, is a much more congenial place for realizing one's talents than our still-alarmingly pigeonholing general society.
From the Publisher:
Colin Powell is the embodiment of the American dream. He was born in Harlem to immigrant parents from Jamaica. He knew the rough life of the streets. He overcame a barely average start at school. Then he joined the Army. The rest is history - but a history that until now has been known only on the surface. Here, for the first time, he himself tells us how it happened, in a memoir distinguished by a heartfelt love of country and family, warm good humor, and a soldier's directness. He writes of the anxieties and missteps as well as the triumphs that marked his rise to four-star general, National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, mastermind of Desert Storm, and now the man the country would most like to draft as President just as it drafted General Eisenhower before him in 1952. We see Powell growing up, getting into mischief, going to church with his father, working in a bottling plant, joining the ROTC. We follow him as a green young lieutenant on his first foreign posting in Germany, where his ascent is nearly aborted by a blunder on the day he is assigned to guard an atomic cannon. We go on patrol with him into the jungles of Vietnam, where he is wounded, and then, in the first surprise turn of his career, into the every-bit-as-dangerous thickets of Washington bureaucracy as a Pentagon aide in the Carter administration. We see how he handled the humiliations inflicted on him as a black soldier traveling in the Deep South and the unnerving challenges he faced as a battalion commander in Korea, where the army guarding the border with North Korea was plagued by drugs, drinking, a lack of discipline, and racial tension. We are edge-of-the-seat spectators to some of the great international dramas of our time - Desert Storm, the invasion of Panama, the dark dealings of Iran-contra with Ollie North and Bill Casey, the climactic meetings with Gorbachev. And we are present also at the encounters with President Clinton on the controversial questio
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