- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (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: 18 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #220,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor and Country Hardcover – September 4, 2007
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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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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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Our great contemporary military leaders came from humble circumstances, unlike the majority of political leaders that rise to the top. Wesley Clark came from humble beginnings but was a star student and swimmer. He attended West Point and his description of plebe year made me understand the suffering and challenges of getting through that first year. He was also a Rhodes scholar and returned to West Point as a professor. He published significant articles in his time in the Army and served in many capacities that provided a great deal of exposure to geopolitics.
Clark spoke fast in this audiobook, very fast. It's as if his mind runs at a faster speed than normal. But he showed a lot of personality in his reading. His speech wasn't rigidly military as some others are.
There were many geopolitical matters of which Wesley educated me in this book. For example, the lessons our military learned in Viet Nam have never been explained to me so well and so authoritatively. He knows his subjects so well that his speech is perfectly fluent. His explanation of the situation the U.S. found itself in after the collapse of the Soviet Union were profound and made so much sense that it gave me many 'aha moments.'
Even with this incredible mind, Clark was a man of action too. His stories of running the war in Kosovo for the U.S. and NATO showed this. This man suffered the deaths of many friends and comrades over his long career, anchoring him in the practical world despite his academic accomplishments.
Regarding his account of the War in Iraq conducted by the adiministration of George W. Bush, Clark was able to reduce the entire explanation into the simplest form so that even an eigth-grader could understand. This was brilliant. I had been searching for meaning and lessons for this war that persists. It's been very difficult for me because I sensed we as a country had lost our winning ways but could not reduce it to words. Clark explains how the U.S. went in, playing NOT TO WIN, which is odd. This was due to a combination of mistrust of the professional military, egos, greed, lack of long-term strategy and a view that soldiers were expendible when they operated as a local police force in a language they could not understand. There was a need to time the war for elections cycles and control media reporting to the American People.
Because of the percieved need for man of principle to mitigate the damages and try to repair strained alliances, Clarck got drafted to run for president. He started his campaign too late and quit once it was apparent that Kerry was going to be the lead Democratic candidiate. This was prudent at the time especially since nobody then could have imagined Kerry allowing himself to get Swift-Boated.
This book made me stronly desire Clark to make a comeback and play some sighificant role again in American Public Life even if only as a CNN Special Correspondent. I believe he is an American Treasure (that's even higher than his highest rank held).
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. The stories are necessary to understand the significant events in his life that have shaped who he is, led him to his beliefs, developed his character, and instilled the principles that guide him still. Extracting the leadership lessons from the stories and putting them all in one place could be used as the basis for a day-long seminar on principled leadership.
I didn't get the impression that he was touting his own leadership traits or promoting himself for his own purposes. Rather, I think he was hoping that others would internalize the lessons he teaches and adopt the same principles. He seems to think that the country has a dearth of such leaders and would like to develop more of them in all walks of life.
Readers of Clark's third book should enjoy it at at least two levels: the stories themselves as a compelling and often poignant narrative, and the points to ponder in developing leaders to take America to the places she should go in the future.
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.