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Capsule Review

My Share of the Task: A Memoir

In This Review

My Share of the Task: A Memoir
By Stanley McChrystal
Portfolio Hardcover, 2013 464 pp. $29.95 Purchase

McChrystal, a retired four-star U.S. Army general, is a great American soldier and has written one of the best memoirs of life in the U.S. military. The U.S. Army that McChrystal joined after graduating from West Point in 1976 was a wounded organization, filled with anxiety, widely unpopular in the country at large, and struggling painfully with the complex experience of the Vietnam War. McChrystal vividly describes his significant role in restoring the army and reinventing the military as a more flexible, flatter, faster, and more information-driven organization. Those changes, McChrystal argues, allowed the military to snatch something like victory from the jaws of defeat in Iraq, despite facing enormous pressures, making many errors, and encountering many obstacles. McChrystal also offers a concise description of the strategy he proposed when he commanded the U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, arguing persuasively that it represented a reasonable approach to a difficult conflict. McChrystal resigned his command in 2010 after a Rolling Stone article quoted his aides criticizing officials in the Obama administration. But readers who come to this book hunting for scandals and score settling will be disappointed; self-controlled and professional to the end, McChrystal makes no complaints about the manner in which his career ended and takes no shots at the presidents under whom he served.

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