- Mass Market Paperback: 656 pages
- Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (June 30, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0345407288
- ISBN-13: 978-0345407283
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 158 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,172,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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My American Journey Mass Market Paperback – June 30, 1996
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From the Inside Flap
"A GREAT AMERICAN SUCCESS STORY . . . AN ENDEARING AND WELL-WRITTEN BOOK."
--The New York Times Book Review
Colin Powell is the embodiment of the American dream. He was born in Harlem to immigrant parents from Jamaica. He knew the rough life of the streets. He overcame a barely average start at school. Then he joined the Army. The rest is history--Vietnam, the Pentagon, Panama, Desert Storm--but a history that until now has been known only on the surface. Here, for the first time, Colin Powell himself tells us how it happened, in a memoir distinguished by a heartfelt love of country and family, warm good humor, and a soldier's directness.
MY AMERICAN JOURNEY is the powerful story of a life well lived and well told. It is also a view from the mountaintop of the political landscape of America. At a time when Americans feel disenchanted with their leaders, General Powell's passionate views on family, personal responsibility, and, in his own words, "the greatness of America and the opportunities it offers" inspire hope and present a blueprint for the future. An utterly absorbing account, it is history with a vision.
"The stirring, only-in-America story of one determined man's journey from the South Bronx to directing the mightiest of military forces . . . Fascinating."--The Washington Post Book World
--Los Angeles Times Book Review
"PROFOUND AND MOVING . . . . Must reading for anyone who wants to reaffirm his faith in the promise of America."
The Wall Street Journal
"A book that is much like its subject--articulate, confident, impressive, but unpretentious and witty. . . . Whether you are a political junkie, a military buff, or just interested in a good story, MY AMERICAN JOURNEY is a book well worth reading."
--San Diego Union Tribune
"Colin Powell's candid, introspective autobiography is a joy for all with an appetite for well-written political and social commentary."
--The Detroit News
About the Author
One of the most prominent figures in American public life, General Colin L. Powell served as the twelfth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under both President George Bush and President Bill Clinton. He was a major architect of Desert Storm, the dramatic Allied success in the forty-three-day Gulf War, which began in January 1991.
General Powell was born in New York City in 1937 and raised in the South Bronx by his parents, who had immigrated to America from Jamaica. He came up through the New York City public school system and received a commission as an army second lieutenant upon graduation from the City College of New York in 1958.
Early in his career, General Powell was stationed in Germany and in a number of posts in the United States, and served two tours in Vietnam, 1962-1963 and 1968-1969. He was also a battalion commander in Korea from 1973 to 1974 and later commanded the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and V Corps in Germany.
General Powell was appointed Deputy National Security Advisor by President Ronald Reagan in January 1987 and in December 1987 became National Security Advisor, a post he held until January 1989. He served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from October 1989 until his retirement on September 30, 1993.
General Powell has received numerous U.S. military awards and decorations, as well as civilian awards honoring his public service, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he was awarded twice. He has also been decorated by the governments of Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela, and received an honorary knighthood (Knight Commanders of Bath) from the Queen of England.
From the Hardcover edition.
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Perhaps of even greater value are the lessons Powell draws from these experiences. Some are succinct, like Powell's Rules written on scraps of paper kept on his desk. They include "Get mad, then get over it," "Officers always eat last," and "Share credit." Others are longer statements of personal philosophy or perspective. Here are nine of Collin Powell's hard-won lessons:
- "Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off."
- "Never be without a watch, a pencil, and a notepad."
- "Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership."
- "With vision only, you get no follow-through. With enforcers only, the vision is realized, but leaves a lot of wreckage. Good chaplains pick up the pieces and put everything together again." [On three complementary leadership styles.]
- "I had long since learned to cope with Army management fashions. You pay the king his shilling, get him off your back, and then go about doing what you consider important."
- "The staff meeting served one useful purpose, however. It stroked the participants' egos and made them feel like part of the team."
- "There was a lot of talk about Powell the `reluctant warrior.' Guilty. War is a deadly game and I do not believe in spending the lives of Americans lightly."
- "The commander in the field is always right and the rear echelon is wrong, unless proved otherwise."
- "Reject the easy path of victimhood. Dare to take the harder path of work and commitment, a path that leads somewhere."
There are longer lessons, too. Along with thoughtful portraits of military and political leaders, on-the-ground accounts of historical events, and candid assessments of U.S. military capability from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan. Powell is critical while remaining respectful, and cautionary while remaining optimistic. His own account of his life and service to his country is worth reading and enjoying. It is highly recommended.
This book is a simple, clear picture of life and work. One of the only complaints I've heard about him came from Panamanian military men who dislike him because he planned Operation Just Cause, the air assault and arrest of Manual Noriega in Panama. This, also, is detailed in his biography.
But by far the thing I love the most and perhaps the thing that my Asian, Arab and Latin brothers love the most about Colin Powell is that he came from humble beginings and doesn't hide it nor seem to be ashamed of it. And that despite his rather average (by global standards) family life and upbringing, he rose to be one of the most significant and powerful men in the world.
People in South America love to talk about how he got off the plane in a full, formal black suit. "Why?" they ask. Because he respects us, they explain.
Somehow everyone feels like they are kin to Colin. His courtesy and kindness, his genuine character and true grit developed through the hard knocks of the Vietname war and surviving a couple of the more racist decades of U.S. history. Interestingly, while he accounts the negative aspects of his life's history ... combat, racism, struggles, he seems to find a spark of inspiration in all things good and bad.
Maybe that's way he has such a following throughout the globe.
Gen. Powell provides us with the tapestry of his life. He came from immigrant parents and was directionless most of his youth. When he got to CCNY and joined the Pershing Rifles (Army ROTC), he found his calling and his career. He describes his love for the miltary, especially the Army, and for his country. But he also is able to step back and reveal flaws of himself and the career that he loves.
This is an American story. General Powell is a man that I admire as a service member, a family man, and a diplomat. Well done, sir.
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I would highly recommend this reading to anyone, particularly, military persons.Read more