With the collaboration of Koltz (co-author: Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom, 2009, etc.), Powell picks up the thread of his life story.
The author rose in the military to become “the first black Army officer to have a four-star troop command.” He was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the first Iraq war and served as secretary of state from 2001 to 2005. The release of his first book, My American Journey (2003), fueled a groundswell campaign to nominate him for president in the upcoming election. However, he recognized that he was not cut out for the job despite his proven leadership strengths. He describes how, as he advanced in rank, his military training also prepared him for his role in government. He learned the importance of always focusing on the mission, being resolute in the face of danger and setbacks, not being governed by ego and maintaining a can-do spirit (with the proviso, “I try to be optimistic, but I try not to be stupid”). A good leader, he writes, accepts responsibility for the failure of those in his command, but makes sure to reward them for their successful missions. Unlike the corporate world, the Army recruits from within its ranks, which makes recognizing potential and providing continuing education a primary concern. Powell reviews his profound disagreements with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney on the handling of the war in Iraq, while taking full responsibility for mistakes made on his watch—e.g., his “infamous speech at the U.N. in 2003” claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
An inspiring and useful memoir from a significant figure in 21st-century American politics.