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The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook


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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Abridged edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739385089
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739385081
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,201,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Cloud and Jaffe are gifted writers, who use their access to these senior commanders to good effect. They provide a lively, personalized account of the successes and setbacks of the four highly able and ambitious servicemen as they climb the military career ladder.

Cloud and Jaffe have produced a worthwhile and fascinating account packed with many insights about officership, promotion and command in the army and civil-military relations."--The Washington Post Book World


"A sparkling account of today's U.S. Army–a work of art that offers novelistic details but also carries the impact of well-reported fact. I learned something on nearly every page, and much of it astonished me. This is the best book I've read on the military in a long time."
—Thomas E. Ricks, New York Times bestselling author of Fiasco and The Gamble

"Important and illuminating . . . sheds light on the epic struggle now being waged within the U.S. military over whether to heed the hard lessons of the past eight years or bury them in the same forgetfulness that marked our post-Vietnam years."
—Linda Robinson, New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me How This Ends and Masters of Chaos

"Compelling . . . Cloud and Jaffe provide us with an insider' s view of the war, drawn from remarkable access to the men who designed the battlefield strategy. . . . The Fourth Star is an eye-opening portrait of today's Army and the four men who have done more than any of their generation to shape it."
—Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of the National Book Award finalist Imperial Life in the Emerald City

"If you care about winning tomorrow's wars, then read this book. . . . Jaffe and Cloud draw intimate portraits of four members of the Army's high priesthood, and the implication is clear: The future of the Army is up for grabs."
—Nathaniel Fick, author of the New York Times bestseller One Bullet Away

"A fascinating, intimate look at the men who are leading our wars and trying to change America's largest institution, the U.S. Army. A must-read for students of history, leadership, and engrossing prose."
—Dana Priest, Pulitzer Prize—winning author of The Mission

"This book will provoke envy, if not plain awe. The fact is, the Army gets it: The best do rise to the top, and the chosen few are not all the same. Too bad Wall Street didn't follow the four in this book."
—Bing West, author of No True Glory and The Strongest Tribe


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

David Cloud was the Pentagon correspondent for the New York Times from 2005 to 2007. He previously worked at the Wall Street Journal, where he covered national security and intelligence issues. 

Greg Jaffe is the Pentagon correspondent at the Washington Post and previously held the same position at the Wall Street Journal.

More About the Author

GREG JAFFE is the Pentagon correspondent at the Washington Post and previously held the same position at the Wall Street Journal. In 1999, he was part of a team of reporters that won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 61 customer reviews
The Fourth Star is a great look at four Generals who have shaped the US Army during the first decade of the 21st century.
Marc Korman
I particularly liked how the book gave you a good background introduction on each general and how their rise to four stars shaped them and their management styles.
Christopher K
The Army, despite its best efforts, still has great difficulty in accepting and rewarding innovative thinking from its lowest ranking officers.
Larry R. Bradley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Steven Metz on October 18, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"The Fourth Star" takes four of the key architects of the modern U.S. Army--generals Petraeus, Chiarrelli, Abizaid, and Casey, and traces their development from youth to the pinnacle of power, using them as a window into the revival of the Army from a dangerously flawed institution to an effective one. It provides great insight on both the character of these leaders (and the nature of ambition), and the Army they helped re-build. I include this with Bing West's "The Strongest Tribe" and Dexter Filkins' "The Forever War" as the best books on military and security issues I've read in recent years. As you would expect from talented journalists like Cloud and Jaffe, the writing is outstanding. But its analysis is spot on as well. I've worked for the Army for 22 years so have been at the periphery of the issues covered (and know many of the characters), and find it penetrating and accurate.
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52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By loyal customer Bill on October 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I wanted to give this book 4 stars because it is flawed, but I had to give it 5 stars because it is so important as a history of 4 key Army generals with emphasis on their impact on our 2nd war in Iraq. The flaws first. For some bizarre reason, the authors and/or publishers chose to omit both a table of contents and an introduction. Those, and a non-specific book jacket, fail to set a context for the book. The numbers on the end notes do not appear in the text. The subtitle "Four generals and the epic struggle for the future of the United States Army" is what the book points to, but never satisfactorily reaches. Rather, the book is a biography of 4 superb generals who, except for their uniform excellence and dedication, could hardly be more different. The book is not so much about their struggles in war, but is raw data for the struggle that will take place in DOD and Congress in future years. Thus, it is not entirely clear who was the intended audience for the book. The book is, in addition, not easy reading because it assumes a moderately high level of knowledge of military history with its battles, strategies, and tactics. Because there is little discussion of so much that is outside the experience of these 4 generals, reading it feels like learning about the war in Iraq looking through a large pinhole. Finally, I would have like to have seen some appendices with command wire diagrams by date, a few maps, and a chronology of the war to date.
All that said, this biography/history as seen by the backgrounds, actions and personalities of the 4 generals contains mandatory knowledge for any future students working on this period of American history. It explores and compares conventional big wars, lessons from Viet Nam, and insurgency vs. anti-terrorism.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Marc Korman on December 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Fourth Star is a great look at four Generals who have shaped the US Army during the first decade of the 21st century. Two of them have suffered a lot of bad press: George Casey and John Abizaid. The former was commander of US forces in Iraq as the country descended further into chaos and the latter was the commander of Central Command. The third, Peter Chiarelli, has flown largely under the radar of the mainstream press but appears to be well regarded in military circles. The fourth, David Petraeus, has been much heralded as a brilliant commander, strategist, power player, and potential president. Although the authors made good use of their access to Petraeus and told us a lot about his background, much of his story has been heavily featured in news articles and books like The Gamble.

Where this book breaks new ground, at least to me, is its focus on the other three. After reading about Casey and Abizaid, I had a much better understanding of what they were trying to achieve in Iraq and the problems they faced. I felt pity for them because based on this book, it appears they were a victim of events as much as their own failings. Casey is depicted as a well meaning man with a great tolerance for criticism, surprisingly surrounding himself with people who did not agree with his point of view. Abizaid is the type of commander I would have thought was well suited for the Middle East. He had expressed a strong interest in the region early in his career before the Persian Gulf War, studied there, and learned Arabic. What we see of these men goes largely unmentioned when discussing the surge, that many of the elements that allowed the surge to work began before the strategy was changed.

Chiarelli is a different case.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A. Courie on January 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Greg Jaffe's and David Cloud's "The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army" tells the parallel stories of four of America's top generals and how their leadership was shaped by their unique backgrounds. The four generals are: General Abizaid, former head of Central Command; General Casey, former commander of all forces in Iraq and current Chief of Staff of the Army; General Chiarelli, former commander of both a division and a corps in Iraq and current Vice Chief of Staff of the Army; and General David Petraeus, former commander of all forces in Iraq and current Central Command commander.

Using personal access to the generals and many others in the Army, Jaffe and Cloud tell the personal stories of these four officers and how their backgrounds influenced the generals they became. Abizaid took a non-traditional approach to his career, focusing in Middle Eastern studies, and was uniquely educated and prepared to work in the Arab world. Casey was the son of a general killed in Vietnam with no aspirations to stay in the Army, and his conservative and shepherding approach to leadership resulted in a conservative leader who presided over the deterioration in Iraq. Petraeus was the brilliant, driven leader who became a disciple of counterinsurgency warfare in the 1990s. And Chiarelli was the thorough leader who saw firsthand as a division commander early on in Iraq what was needed and worked hard within the system to do this.

As they rose through the ranks these leaders' careers often intersected, and finally all have played important, and differing, roles in the Iraq War and the shaping of the current US Army.

(One episode in the book, if true, really disturbed me.
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