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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and a fast read, December 20, 2009
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This review is from: The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army (Hardcover)
Great book. Not too long. Perhaps a bit more could have been said on the pre-Iraq war lives of these great men. Still, a great overview of four important Army generals of the past decade: Petraeus, Casey, Abizaid, and Chiarelli. Most know about Petraeus as a hero, and Casey and Abizaid are not so highly regarded after the difficulties during their times in Iraq. However, Jaffe and Cloud make great cases for the decency, intelligence, and competence of the non-Petraeus generals. And Petraeus is indeed one of the most impressive people one can now read about (along with General McChrystal). Amazingly intelligent, hard-working, and confident. I think ONLY someone like him and McChrystal are capable of allowing the US to leave Iraq and Afghanistan in some form of acceptability. Even then, though, "capable" may not be good enough. So my main concern with Petraeus is that I wonder if it's in his DNA to recognize when something is beyond his control. Jaffe and Cloud note that Petraeus made a mistake or two in Iraq (and he seemed to catch on to that). That's the worst thing I think I could imagine about him, and that's me struggling to offer up a potential problem. The Chiarelli story is also interesting because I think he's the least well known among the four of them, yet he went a long way in pointing out early errors and he offered important ideas that eventually became a part of improving conditions in Iraq. Overall this is an impressive four person biography that tells the larger story of how a huge government bureaucracy (the US Army) made some quick changes in the midst of challenging times to better address horrendous conditions. The four generals discussed in The Fourth Star made a lot of that happen.
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