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A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor and Country Hardcover – September 4, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Army generals frequently remain little known outside the military. That was true of four-star general Clark until he decided to seek the Democratic Party nomination for the 2004 presidential race. In a combination memoir, patriotic tract and broadside about contemporary American politics, Clark explains how his dismay with the Bush administration's determination to invade Iraq without good reason primed him to seek the presidency. On the campaign trail, Clark suggested that using military force to defeat terrorists would likely prove futile. Instead, he touted the value of negotiation. How a four-star general ended up less hawkish than the civilian in the White House is linked to the events of his life, from growing up in the segregated city of Little Rock, Ark., to becoming NATO's supreme allied commander, Europe. The freshest material covers his command of international peacekeeping troops in Kosovo, as the 1990s civil war in the former Yugoslavia threatened to engulf neighboring countries. Little will be unfamiliar to those who supported Clark's presidential bid, or of interest to those who didn't. (Sept.)
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From Booklist

Clark's autobiography begins with an account of the serious wounds he received in battle in Vietnam. His experience there, he avers, crystallized principles of leadership. Yet as interested as some are in the secrets of successful leadership, most will approach Clark's memoir for the windows it opens into his personal and professional life. Although Clark recalls salient memories from his youth in Little Rock, Arkansas, such as the desegregation crisis of 1957, he structures his material largely by his ascent up the military hierarchy, from the West Point class of 1966 to his last post, as NATO commander of the 1999 war on Serbia. West Point was a life-altering experience: he survived the hazing, discovered a talent for soldiering, and met his future wife. In direct, unadorned prose, Clark imparts his conviction of the anticommunist cause in Vietnam and his significant contribution to the army's recovery in the 1980s. The book closes with Clark's Democratic Party presidential candidacy in 2004 and his criticism of the Iraq war, signaling that the author's engagement in politics may continue. Taylor, Gilbert

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (September 4, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1403984743
  • ISBN-13: 978-1403984746
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,004,715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Stanley Davis on September 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book could easily be subtitled, "Stories from my life and the lessons they teach," for that is the basic structure of the book. In chronological order, except for the Preface, in which he relates the incident in which he was wounded in Viet Nam, Gen. Clark tells stories of his life and then completes each chapter with the lessons those stories have taught him--lessons for life and lessons on leadership. The final chapter applies those lessons to articulate a vision for America, for governance, and a path to follow for the 21st century.

Most of the stories he tells will be familiar to the avid Clark supporter community, but we've never heard them in his own words before, and in some cases in as much detail. The personal touch and the insights he provides bring the stories alive in his straightforward--dare I say simple?--language. It's an easy read, but the message is deep, but not complex.

If there was any disappointment in my reading of the book is that he downplays his own achievements, accomplishments, and uniqueness as a public servant, soldier, scholar, and leader. While his brilliance shines through the prose, he goes out of his way to avoid making him the star of the narrative. For example, his account of the Mt. Igman tragedy in Bosnia leaves out the danger and personal risk he undertook in making his rescue attempt. And there are almost too-casual mentions of his being number one in his class at West Point and his selection as a Rhodes Scholar. He omits altogether the praise that has been lavished on him in his formal Army evaluations and in other, less formal ways.

His mission in writing the book was to teach.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Patricia K. Spiegel on September 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book in only two sittings because I was anxious to see how a man who faced some severe challenges as a child and almost died in Vietnam could go on to become a great leader and American hero. It is a wonderful story of commitment and love of country as well as the lifetime love of one woman.

I TOTALLY DISAGREE with the snarky last sentence of the Publisher Weekly review (at the top). In fact, I am giving copies of this book to my younger friends and family members who truly want to do something with their lives, but don't exactly know what that might be or how to go about it. This isn't to say that the book is a recipe for how to become a 4 Star General or something as spectacular, but rather how to experiement with one's strengths (and weaknesses) and the focus on the goals that emerge from such a journey. Perhaps without being fully aware of it, Clark gives hints for all of us about how to be the best we can be, and reveals more about himself than I was expecting. The road isn't always easy. There will be setbacks. But one just keeps at it, and success can be the outcome.

I loved this inspiring book.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Ronald J. Esquerra III on September 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Wes Clark has lead a life that could only be described as extraordinary. From growing up in Arkansas, to West point, to Oxford, The bloody fields of Vietnam to the halls of Washington and everywhere in between. This book gives an inspiring account of how one man from humble origins and a will to achieve went from a poor, small town boy to one of the most decorated Military leaders in modern history. This book is practically a manual on leadership. Whether you are in to politics or not, you should get this book. You cannot read this without being inspired, and hopeful for the future of this country.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Chris J. on September 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"A Time To Lead" is a must read for anyone who cares about our government and is interested in the future. The stories that Wes Clark tells will make you laugh, tremble, and hope. This is a man who has truly lived a life of sacrifice and service and it is a breath of fresh air to read the memoirs of someone who has actually walked the walk. Clark's voice has brought reason to our national dialog and I hope that his message of reason over rage continues to spread in this nation and throughout the world.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Steve Emerine on October 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Rather than rehash other reviewers' comments, let me refer you to pages 182 and 183, where Wesley Clark reports a warning he received from Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia to not have NATO become an occupying power in the Balkans because occupying powers "do not do well here." Instead, the dictator urged the U.S. and its allies to "treat people with respect." After the conversation, Clark reflected on his military and negotiating experiences and decided the principles of power politics among nations "had to be exercised through personal relationships. Ultimately, diplomacy wasn't about trade-offs; it was about persuasion. To succeed, you had to link the calculus of cost and benefits to charm, new opportunities and the promise of a better tomorrow. Success was 90 percent persuasion, backed up by 10 percent coercion." He adds: "If force was to be used, it was to be used only as a last resort, and even then alongside allies, if possible." As I finished reading this book on Oct. 20, 2007, a day when the Bush Administration's drumbeats for war with Iran continued to accelerate, I couldn't help but wish Americans had elected Clark or someone like him in 2004. I had the same thought in nearly every chapter of the general's combination biography and expression of lessons he's learned from going to war, listening to others, weighing alternatives and then making or recommending decisions. Listening and weighing alternatives before deciding is a foreign concept for the man Garrison Keillor refers to as "Current Occupant." I fear it will plunge us even deeper into the Middle Eastern abyss. Wesley Clark is an American treasure, and the nation should tap his wisdom, judgment and talents as soon as possible. We need leaders like him.
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