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Generally Speaking: A Memoir by the First Woman Promoted to Three-Star General in the United States Army Hardcover – September 20, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Beginning in a Women's Army Corps still largely restricted to clerical duties, Kennedy finished three-plus decades in the army as a senior intelligence officer during a period when military intelligence was no longer an oxymoron, but a critical element of national security. Her memoir says the expected from a successful senior officer. It stresses the importance to a soldier of physical, mental and spiritual fitness. It offers a few generalizations about the future of the army and the world, making familiar points about the increasing likelihood of asymmetric violence by substate actors. Readers, however, are unlikely to seek out this book for its perspectives on national security. Kennedy was known within the army as a determined advocate for women soldiers. She gained national recognition for successfully blocking the promotion of another general, on the grounds of his having sexually harassed her. More significant, however, is Kennedy's principled commitment to creating a more domesticated army, a female-friendly force whose male soldiers wish neither to drink to excess, to use bad language, nor to consider women as sexual objects. The possibilities of this kind of civilized force are more important than whether a particular general engaged in inappropriate touching. They should be the focus whenever Generally Speaking is discussed. PW's readers are advised not to hold their breaths waiting for that to happen. (Sept. 20)Forecast: This book has been under "semi-embargo" in anticipation of a Barbara Walters appearance on Sept. 19. That interview will be followed by Good Morning America on pub day, while a subsequent author tour takes in New York, Washington, D.C., and various military base areas, as well as a 25-city radio satellite tour. Look for a huge spike in sales, followed by a relatively quick drop.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Kennedy rose from the ranks of the Women's Army Corps, eventually becoming the army's first woman three-star general and serving as the deputy chief of staff of intelligence. During her 32 years in the military, she saw much change and turmoil, including her own encounters with sexual harassment. This book begins with her life story and then focuses on how her army experience shaped her and how others can take the skills she learned and use them in their lives. As Kennedy discusses specific issues such as being a good mentor, dealing with difficult supervisors, and the future of army intelligence, this standard biography takes on a new and interesting slant that makes it much more enjoyable. Unfortunately, it might have been more effective with a professional narrator. Also, the drums and martial music indicating section and chapter changes get in the way of the tale. Public libraries may want to add this to biography sections or wait for the unabridged version to see if its problems are less evident.
Danna Bell-Russel, Library of Congress
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 326 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books (September 20, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446527939
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446527934
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,864,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Katherine Keirns on January 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book screams for the work of a good editor and another year of rewriting. It's not particularly well organized, and leaves the reader wondering about some incidents that could have been explored in greater depth, but were left inexplicibly blank. General Kennedy is understandably provented from discussing the nature of much of her career in Army Intelligence, but totally glosses over much of the human story.
Having followed her career since being a cadet, a found this book a bit disappointing and could not help but wonder why someone of talent and intelligence allowed it to go to print with such obvious quality flaws.
All of that said, Kennedy and her story are important, and the book is not tedious to read, and often times funny. Those who like her will still like her, and those who dislike her, did before they even picked up the book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bill D on July 23, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had the great pleasure of meeting General Kennedy when she was still a captain. Even then, she displayed an amazing dedication to her troops - male and female alike. Of all the officers I worked with over my military career, General Kennedy stands out as the best of the best.
General Kennedy's story is unique, but it's also the story of today's military - right down to the barenuckled, back room politics that have always been evident in political decision making. Far more interesting is her unswerving loyalty to the Army and her country despite the petty rumormongering and questionable tactics used against her.
One thing is certain: General Kennedy is a soldier's general. Her story is the story of today's army and the end of the obsession with personal power that's dominated the military since World War II. This is a story, not just of the coming of age of a woman soldier - but the coming of age of the US military.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By ksuwildkat on January 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As an Army Intel Officer, I hoped to learn something about my chosen profession from an officer who was at the peak of the Intel world. Instead I found myself skimming ever forward to find something new. Given the 5 pages of explanations of Army terms at the back of the book it should have been no surprise that General Kennedy wrote to a general audience, not a military one. I think she missed the mark. Most of her "management" lessons have been given elsewhere and better. Most of her military leadership lessons have been too. Her stories of her early days and the transition from WAC to regular army were good and I wish she had continued. She could have related her views on the change from the Army Security Agency (ASA) to the current INSCOM as someone who was part of ASA and then Commanded INSCOM. Where were the stories of the growth and then near death of tactical SIGINT? I had hoped for a book about an Intelligence professional, and Army Officer and a Female soldier. Instead General Kennedy wrote the reverse emphasis with far more about being a female than an intelligence professional. I was also disappointed that General Kennedy glossed over so many difficulties. She speaks of the "myth" of female soldiers getting pregnant to avoid deployment yet one check of the medical stats at Ft Hood during Desert Storm would dispel the thought that it is a myth. Why not show that just as many male soldiers suffered sudden lower back problems or other ailments that made them non-deployable too. Avoiding deployment is equal opportunity but pregnancy is not so why pretend it doesnt happen? She also missed the opportunity to take to task women like Lt. Kelly Flinn and the Army officer who insisted on breast-feeding at work. Her silence gives the impression of support. Maybe the money she earned from this book (I did my part) will give General Kennedy the opportunity to write another book. Get a better editor if you do General!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joseph W. Lazzara on September 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having served with LTG Kennedy in Augsburg I found this to be an interesting biography of somebody I had served with. In Germany I was under MAJ Kennedy, in the rating scheme. Did not realize until I read the book, we had served in the same area before. Her previous assignment was as a nurse recruiter with the Concord DRC. I was attached to the Concord DRC as an ASA Rep.
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By RJW52 on December 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This story of General Kennedy's military career is interesting from two aspects. First is the transition of the army from the Vietnam draft era to today's all-volunteer army, which is of interest to military history enthusiasts. Second is the story of a woman's progression through a traditionally all-male organization to a very senior position, which is (or should be) of interest to managers and HR people as well as women in any job.
Unfortunately, the book is poorly written and poorly edited. The text switches back and forth between a historical narrative and collections of thoughts on specific topics. As a result, many experiences are discussed in almost identical words in more than one place in the book. This leaves the reader having to slog through already-familiar material to gain new information. (Actually, the book reads as if a ghostwriter simply transcribed interview tapes and tried to organize the interviews to make some sort of sense without taking any editorial responsibility.)
Better organized and edited, this could be a classic for men and women aspiring to senior management positions. As it is, you'll have to read patiently to get the General's message.
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