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on March 30, 2012
I have to say this book really left a lot to be desired. Paula Broadwell tried to tell one good story I am sure but she failed and instead told several bad ones. There is no cohesion to this story and instead we see a mishmash of bad ones. We are mislead by the title. The book really doesn't do a good job explaining Petraeus or his command style. We see a confusing mix of a biography, a first hand account of the ground situation in Afghanistan and then a view of the struggles winning the hearts and minds of the Afghani people.

This book lacks vision and really doesn't tell the reader anything earth shattering or more depth than one could find by reading Time or watching CNN. There is nothing new under the sun here. Seriously, don't waste your time no matter what the professional critics say.
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on February 10, 2012
Much wasn't really brought to light or revealed here. One never gets a sense about how Petraeus makes judgements, where he failed and would have done better, or has any insight into him and the thought process. I found The Fourth Star much more robust and insightful. Paula is obviously a fan and didn't have any objectivity in the book. Petraeus is either awesome or super awesome. OK. Got it. Next? There is no more depth.
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on February 20, 2012
You'll love this book if you like bureaucratic history and thinly veiled hero worshiping. Lots of pages about team building and communication in a large organization. For that stuff, I prefer David Novak's, Taking People with You. As an biography, it was very disappointing. You find out that David Petraeus can run at youthful speeds for miles, but he doesn't seem to ever breathe hard, sweat or get a sore tendon. That is, the book lacks human details and insight into the man. I doubt that General Petraeus is just a phenomenal bureaucrat, but I'll have to wait for a great biography to find out.
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on March 17, 2012
I purchased this book with the desire to understand the insides of the man Gen. Petraeus. Unfortunately this book reads like a news magazine. This is little insight into the man. It is a bland history of the sequence of events in his life.
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on August 7, 2012
I was really excited getting this book. I love military history and learning about military leaders, and this book looked like it would give me a view of one of the greatest military minds of our generation. I was disappointed in how much the education of Gen. Petraeus was left out of a book whose subtitle is "The Education of General David Petraeus." You read some about his time at West Point, Leavenworth, Princeton, but primarily this book is a recount of his time in Afghanistan. As commander ISAF, Gen Petraeus did apply much of what he learned over his years of study and experience in the Army. However, the book fails to bring these two ideas together, turning into a recount of events instead of a book about Gen. Petraeus. Overall, the content disappointingly fails to live up to the title.
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on November 20, 2012
First, let me confess that I probably would never have read this book without the scandal attached to it. I also mostly skimmed through the middle and end sections. I wasn't expecting a tell-all story of their affair, but I was curious to see hypocrisy in action. My favorite part of the book was the ironic and glowing reviews on the book jacket.

I think I can be pretty objective on the actual content of the book. I had some minimal expectations of learning something about Petraeus and maybe hearing a few interesting stories. I noticed immediately that sections of the writing in the book didn't seem to match others. Some parts were really very bad and lacked grammatical cohesion. It was shockingly bad writing for a Harvard grad and PhD candidate. Other parts were written in a grammatically solid but mind-numbingly boring style. I think the differences could be from heavy editing or the different co-authors.

Lots of time is spent excessively covering small details that add nothing to the readers enjoyment of this book. Some examples of this I can recall are the paragraphs on the genealogy of Holly Petraeus back to the 1600s and her father's school grades. I didn't learn anything about Petreus's leadership or his unique views on the the war. It seemed like a lot of fluff and propaganda type stuff. This is the kind of "leadership" information you would find in a brochure at a self help seminar. It didn't show any of the gritty truth of reality. Thus, I skimmed through most of the book.

I noticed one reviewer complain that since the scandal broke there have been more "one star" reviews. I don't think this is entirely due to personal animosity towards Petraeus or Broadwell. I think rather the "five star" reviewers prior to the scandal were biased in favor of the book because people had such admiration for Petraeus they overlooked the book's flaws.

Please excuse the typos I probably inserted in this review. I'm too lazy to look for them :)
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on March 25, 2012
A well-written first effort by this author, however for those of us up to speed on military doctrine and recent military history, little new was presented. There was very little about Petraeus' family, or his wife's. A lot of the same old war stories. I was frankly a bit disappointed.
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on May 3, 2013
I am sorry to say that the book is far more of a hagiography than biography. While many of us are GEN David Petraeus fans (and continue to be even in light of his and Paula's foolishness), this tome is near-total hero worship rather than any sort of serious analysis about his career, the decisions he constantly made, and the repercussions of his substantial leadership (positive/negative, intended/unintended).

The benefit of the book is limited to giving the reader real and vivid detail on the day-to-day pressures a man like David Petraeus is under, where his decisions and influence have serious and long-standing ramifications. Alas, the author accepts all actions and decisions as the correct path while, alas, bypassing any real discussion or understanding of the potential issues that came from GEN Petraeus' decisions. Because, let's face it, there is darn little clear-cut about the path he was trying to navigate in Iraq, Afghanistan, and CENTCOM Headquarters. I didn't buy the book expecting a ton of real analysis from an obvious David Petraeus confidant (and paramour, as it turns out). But given her access to the man, and her obvious talent, I also hoped for more than I got for my money. The book will likely be an important piece to understand the era of Iraq-Afghanistan and its effects, but I think we will be waiting for other books that are not afraid to analyze its most influential leader, military or civilian, for long-term positive and negative trends.
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on November 14, 2012
I saw Paula Broadwell at a book review and bought the book.

She made the book sound interesting. It was not. I gave up about one-half way through. It just skipped around. I usually finish all books I start. I could not do this one. I may now pick it up again in view of the just announced relationship between the two. That may make the book more interesting.

Hopefully the people now buying the book are not expecting much.
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on November 14, 2012
The publisher and/or Amazon are providing some unintended humor with the statement in the book description that Broadwell was "Afforded extensive access by General Petraeus."

Surprisingly tepid and unthoughtful book by a mistress. It makes "Monica's Story" by Andrew Morton appear definitive and engaging in this genre. At least Monica Lewinsky and Andrew Morton knew what they were trying to sell.
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