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My American Journey
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on March 29, 2015
I enjoyed reading GEN Powell's biography. The hard copy of his book has been sitting on my shelf but I decided to read the Kindle version instead because of my traveling. His life truly epitomizes the American Dream born from Jamaican immigrant parents and rising to the highest ranks in the Army then Sec. Of State. Throughout his military career at the Pentagon, GEN Powell walked a fine line to balance his civilian-military relationships which, helped prepare him as a diplomat. What's so transparent about his book is that how his life experiences formulated his political views of being fiscally conservative yet socially conscience. I recently had a chance to listen to him give a speech at Ft. Leavenworth, KS during a ceremony unveiling his statue. SEC and GEN Powell delivered an eloquent speech that I could almost hear his voice read out loud directly from his book. A true statesman and Soldier! I highly recommend this book!
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on July 12, 2011
This autobiography covers Collin Powell's life from early childhood through retirement from the Army, with a few post-Army experiences. At the time of its writing he clearly did not anticipate serving as Secretary of State or in any other future high-visibility position. It was the intended capstone of his public career. The book is well-stocked with a readable selection of anecdotes from Powell's family, military and political lives.

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.
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on February 27, 2007
Stories abound in the US government about simple acts of kindness that Colin Powell showed to employees. But the stories I love the best are the ones told by Arabs, Latinos, Asians and Africans. People everyone seem to love to hate the US, but they consistently agree on two things ... Colin Powell and the Bill of Rights.

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.
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on October 30, 2017
Colin Powell is a real patriot who has worked hard for everything he has achieved. I enjoyed reading his story in his words. Always said he was too smart to run for president :), though I think he would have made a good one.
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on May 30, 2017
What a story! He was such an exceptional person from day one! I enjoyed this book so much!
I really like his thinking!
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on November 23, 2014
This is a great book. I have been reading a lot of autobiogrophies and biogrophies lately and this is by far the best I have discovered. It reads like a novel. I can't believe some studio has not make it into a major motion picture. You will beam with pride in our country, you will honor the armed forces and you will be so impressed with a man who has served his country all of his carrer. Lots of inside the whitehouse scenes. I really learned a lot about the army as I didn't have the privilage to serve.
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on March 20, 2018
I've always been a fan of Coln Powell. Wanted to understand more about this mans life and views. A good read.
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on December 16, 2012
As most autobiographies go, Colin's is a look at the best side of himself. Who among us can see all our faults, much less right them down? That being said, I highly recommend this book. The only real star against it (the reason for only 4 stars) is the length. It's hard to read 600 plus pages of a book when there are so many more books that need reading and so many more things that need doing. But even if you don't like the politics of Colin Powell, the person he is on the inside is a very good and loving old soul.
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on July 27, 2016
I thought I knew a lot about General Powell, but this journey he has taken is very enlightening and inspirational. General Powell has served himself and nation so honorably that it should be mandatory reading for every student, at least by her or his junior year in high school. The book explains, quite expertly, what a true patriot should model.
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on January 8, 2014
When ever I see a political memoir, I tend to look for something else but for what ever reason this one grabbed my attention- I don't have particularly strong feelings for Powell one way or another politically. However, I have really enjoyed this book. His anecdotes of his time in the military and his family are really relatable and give a good idea of how the military worked and it's political shuffling in the background. I'd recommend it for any one who enjoys military or political history.
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