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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2014
I LOVED this book. He was truely a hero. He died way too young.
I bought this book as a gift for my son who served under Norm during Desert Storm. My son has never been able to talk about that time in Kuwait until i gave him this book and then he just opened up. It unlocked a lot of memories.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2013
The late General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, the most famous American military hero of the second half of the 20th century, makes clear in these memoirs that the combat readiness and morale problems that dogged the U.S. in the Vietnam era were actually the result in part of an officer corps from World War II and Korea which stayed too long. Schwarzkopf's remarkably candid biography demonstrates how he and other battle commanders fixed these problems and how the lessons learned led to the success of the first Gulf War.

Like the fictional helicopter gunship pilot in the 2006 novel, "From West Point to Watergate," Wayne Riley, Schwarzkopf realized early in his military career that he was not a good bureaucratic infighter and if he was to advance in the Army he would have to do it on the battlefield and avoid Pentagon desk assignments as much as he could. By staying in the field, Schwarzkopf was able to make blunt and honest disagreements with his superiors, a style that stood him in good stead when he later led the coalition to kick the Iraqi Army out of Kuwait.

He was son of a West Point General who created the New Jersey State Police and solved the Lindberg kidnapping case, and played a secret and critical diplomatic and military role in Iran during World War II. Like his father, he was a man of action, and wound his way up the greasy pole of Army rankings by commanding troops, not making political connections at the White House. His long gray line of assignments included commander roles with the 187th Airborne Infantry, 101rst Airborne Division, Berlin Brigade, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam, ARVN Airborne, 198th Infantry Brigade, 172nd Infantry Brigade, 9th Infantry Division, U.S. Pacific Command, 8th Infantry Division, 24th Infantry Division Mechanized, Grenada invasion chief Army adviser, I Corps, and of course, the U.S. Central Command, (CENTCOM), which he took over in November 1988, and which included the territory of the Middle East. He was also a man of feeling and he practically invented the Army's new protocol in taking the morale of his troops seriously, giving his men time off with their families when he felt they needed it, and providing them with diversions and better food whenever possible. He also made it his business if he felt that nearby towns overcharged and ripped off his soldiers while they were on base.

A true hero despite his modest title, "It Doesn't Take a Hero," Schwarzkopf was wounded three times in Vietnam in battle, once in the arm where he continued to direct his men from a tank despite the obvious pain. He retired for the day only after being ordered to rest by a superior officer, and then in the morning was helicoptered out of the battle zone to a hospital.

A no nonsense problem solver, Schwarzkopf is diplomatic but revealing about the eagerness by politicians with no military experience to send troops into battle under questionable circumstances, usually for political gain. And despite the fact that it was Schwarzkopf who developed the plan to rescue medical students in Grenada more or less on the fly, he reveals how skeptical he and the rest of the military were about the vast armada gathered to take over tiny Grenada. He also is candid about the intra service rivalry in battle, in the case of Grenada between his Army troops and the Marine Corps in what was a Navy directed operation.

The opposite was true in Desert Storm, which occupies nearly half of these pages, and where Schwarzkopf asked for more troops than Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney was originally intending to give him, in order to keep battle casualties down for political reasons. As it turned out, in the one place in the book where Schwarzkopf is not particularly candid, he vastly overrated the fighting capability of the Iraqi forces, particularly the vaunted Revolutionary Guards. And nowhere does Schwarzkopf acknowledge the reality on the battlefield: that the superior U.S. technology, such as B-52 concussion bombs which literally blew out the eardrums of the dug-in Iraqi ground forces, and the more sophisticated tank missiles which incinerated Iraqi tank divisions, was what won the 5 day war. Schwarzkopf praises President George W.H. Bush as the rock who stood behind him and let him command the war without interference.

That is not to denigrate the masterful coalition battle plan, which Schwarzkopf points out was developed by planners in his Central Command in Tampa, not himself. Besides, running such a politically delicate war, having to juggle the sensibilities of Israel under Scud attacks, Saudis and other Arab troops who wanted to punish Saddam Hussein but do it in a way that would not antagonize their Islamic breathren throughout the region, having to provide Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell with enough rationale to pacify both hawks and doves in the White House, took a man of Schwarzkopf's experience and more importantly, his temperament.

[Hansen Alexander is a New York lawyer and author of "Introduction to the Laws of the United States in the 21rst Century," an Amazon e-book exclusive.]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 13, 2014
The general showed a rare fact that most officers do not understand. You are only as good as the people around you, and as a leader you must bring out the best in a person to get the job done. This is what he could do. This book shows also how fouled up Washington is, and how many people think only of themselves, and kiss a-- for a good report regardless if they earn it or not. This is our current military leaders, because if they don't they will be relieved of their command , and fired if they do not kiss a--. The president, nor the secretary could care less about the military, the veterans,and their dependents. This showing in the cuts in the military, base services, and the sorry way those two have conducted themselves. GENERAL H. NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF would have been standing on their desk for what they are doing to the military and would have told," if you continued to give pink slips to officers in combat , and cut our combat readiness to the point they we will no longer be a world power. We could not do another DESERT STORM, because we don't have the equipment, or the trained personnel for immediate deployment". We were lucky to have a person like General Schwarzkopf to lead, and we thank him for his service.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2006
I went into this read thinking that this would be another in a long line of self-serving autobiographies from officer blow-hards that are so full of themselves it is disgusting. I expected, like I have read in so many other memoirs, a tale where the main character is bigger than the times he served in.

Not so with General Schwarzkopf. He is truly an American hero who was given an impossible mission during the first Gulf War and he pulled it off partly due to a sense of history, in part due to political accument, and in no large part because this took a lot of balls.

The General starts the book out with a touching portrait of his childhood; his formative years were spent living in the Middle East, learning the customs, an appetite for the cuisine, and the art of falconry.

He is no Gen. Eisenhower, to be sure, but he is still a larger than life figure that served our nation during a pivotal time in our Middle Eastern Diplomacy.

"Stormin' Normin" is neither falsely self-effacing, nor does he "toot his own horn." He is what he is, and his not only has his biography born testimony to his greatness as both an officer and as an American, subsequent interviews with the gliteratti have done nothing but illumine the brightness of his "star(s)."

A great read for the history buff, or a lover of biographies of great Americans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 4, 2013
This is a book of reminiscences- good as those of any fictional hero. From the beginning, he lived a diverse life; here, it demonstrates that early experiences are a predictor of adult choices. Not focusing on his peer group, but the code: 'Duty, Honor, Country'; the book shows what shaped this young man. Love for his home, mother, and respect for father- certainly, but mainly that motto of an old institution, West Point.
Read the other reviews for his interludes in Iran, Viet Nam, and Europe. He certainly did his part to establish diplomatic ties with leaders of those countries he visited. Look at it as low-level statesmanship, compared with that practiced by the Secretary of State. You'll be struck by the Army's effort to change him into a paper shuffler in the Pentagon. There has to be a reason that it is called the Puzzle Palace, its' focus on politics above the concerns of line officers and their troops.
Well illustrated, a thoughtful read during these days of military downsizing.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
While it's been many years since I was in the army, reading this book, as I followed the details of both Schwarzkopf's personal and public life, I felt as though I was there with him. And I was comfortable metaphorically traveling through the life of a born determined soldier.
Regardless of what you may think of the Gulf War, or of the military, this is a wonderful story about someone who is determined to live the life that he has been sent here to live.
"It Doesn't Take a Hero," reflects his message, "No matter your history, or the history of the organization in which you most identify with, you can still reach your highest dreams."
This book will make you laugh quite a bit, as you follow his determination to avoid politics, and remain true to his basic soldiering identity. This is not to say that he would be less of a leader, nor less of a person to have aimed for a political position. He became the soldier that all of his life experiences led him to be.
As I read this, I could almost hear his voice, jokes and all.
Enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2015
This was a very interesting story.

I got and read this book in winter 2014-2015. There were some deep ideas about the Middle East that come from the subject's life of experience as an American abroad. I probably learned more about the Middle east from this book than I did from the last 100 NY Times stories about that region combined.

Also, the personal story is profound. Schwarzopf was occasionally dropped in to very difficult situations (a mismanaged unit in Vietnam for example). I felt like I learned a lot from his descriptions of the attitudes that he took to these problems.

The most striking passage to read in 2015 was his description of why they never considered invading Iraq after Desert Storm. I will leave it to you to read, but it definitely resonates in the aftermath of the Bush-Cheney administration.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2014
The General writes like a professional. It seems as if you are listening to him tell you what his feelings are each moment of his story. He's not a complex person. He grew up with the dream of going to West Point and making a career in the army. He also dreamed of a wife and family, but that was a secondary goal and he wasn't sure it would fit well with life as a professional soldier.

Of course, when love happens, it's unexpected and more than he'd ever hoped. He covers his entire military career, along with his personal life and it may surprise you how he discloses the gritty and, sometimes dirty, underside of Army life. He is candid about White House decisions he disagreed with, while maintaining respect for the White House and offices held by key players.

Altogether, a pleasing, fast read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I received this book as a Christmas present from a fellow Vietnam veteran a few years back, at the conclusion of Desert Storm. It is interesting to see the difference between Norman Schwarzkopf's two tours in Vietnam. During the first tour, he is avidly impressed with the Vietnamese Airborne troops he is advising, and has a comfortable time back at West Point recounting his experiences. The second time is with the Americal Division, and there is all the contrast in the world between these two assignments. Such works have been helpful to me as a Vietnam vet, and I relish my time as a helicopter pilot in the Mekong Delta in 1966-67 all the more, especially because I had neither of these experiences. I was lucky. This book is a keeper, and a wonderful portrayal of conducting the war in the desert of Iraq.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 14, 2013
General Schwarzkopf's book is an outstanding read! The reader is taken on a colorful and informative journey thru General Schwarzkopf's life from childhood, thru his time at West Point, and eventually the battlefields of Vietnam, Granada, and Iraq. After reading this book, I was left w/ a profound sense of pride that a man such as General Schwarzkopf graced our Army and our Country w/ his wonderful talents and sacrifices and left future generations w/ not only some big shoes to fill, but also a sense of how to keep and build upon his and our unique American legacy. HIGHEST RECOMMENDATIONS!
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