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Call Sign Chaos

Learning to Lead

Book - 2019
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"A memoir of a life of warfighting and lifelong learning, following along as Mattis rises from Marine recruit to four-star general. It is a journey about learning to lead and a story about how he, through constant study and action, developed a unique leadership philosophy, one relevant to us all."--Dust jacket flap.
Publisher: New York : Random House, [2019]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9780812996838
Branch Call Number: B M435M 2019
Characteristics: xiv, 300 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color), maps ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: West, Francis J.


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Dec 06, 2019

This is both a reassuring and alarming read. Reassuring insofar as there is clarity and depth related to how the US military works, and the ingrained DNA that they have which drives making best case decisions. Alarming as it describes political control which is misinformed, and often simply 'I have made my mind up, don't confuse me with the facts'. I read the latter parts with the movie 'Chaney' playing in my head. Mattis and Kelly were seen as stabilizing forces in the US Administration, it is quite clear why that was the case.

'Drive' by Daniel Pink talks about the need for 'Mastery, Autonomy and Purpose'. General Mattis knows first hand that you win battles, with their constantly shifting landscapes, by training the front line, then allowing them to be audacious and innovative, and lastly supporting their decision making afterwards. He closes with a comment on risk aversion, which for him is fundamental to survival; taking risks, making mistakes, and moving on are essential to long term success.

Nov 10, 2019

Compelling read. James Mattis and Bing West collaborate to tell a cliff notes version of Mattis' Marine Corps career and, even more concisely, his post-uniform public service. Marines in particular will likely enjoy some of the vignettes like the one involving a letter Mattis wrote to a senior commander relating his ire at the downgrading of combat awards submitted for his (Mattis') men following Desert Storm. Worth the time to read even if it is not the more comprehensive tale of either his Marine Corps time or post-uniform days that many of us would be interested in.

Nov 04, 2019

I've read most of the Washington polemics which have come out over the past few years, and this is the only one which impressed me. This may be because Mattis barely mentions Washington, other than to repeatedly mention that he deeply dislikes the politics of governing. Take that with a grain of salt, of course--after all, he was Trump's Secretary of Defense--but if you want dirt on Washington establishment figures, this is not the book for you (side note--I strongly disagree with the reader who gave this book a half-star because of Mattis' political career, which is barely mentioned. This book is about far more than politics).

Overall, this book is a combination of memoir, leadership how-to guide, and the highly erudite musings of a thoughtful and intelligent soldier. Lots of stuff to disagree with, but overall, I was impressed by Mattis' consistent and well-thought-out philosophies of action. He is honest with his mistakes and humble with his successes, and both thoughtful and informed with his assessments of the Iraq war specifically, and U.S. military policy generally. Reading this, it seems clear that Trump didn't do his homework when hiring Mattis, which was likely a good thing. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in current events and recent U.S. history.

Oct 17, 2019

very good as far as DC memoirs go, and I read quite a few of them.
When it first came out, I saw a ton of commentary linking it to Trump, but there is almost no mention of Trump in the book. Mattis explains that he does not write about "sitting presidents."

If you read this, along with 'Duty' by Robert Gates, you'll see that we as a country have been on serious war footing for almost 20 years now. Most Americans seem to be only vaguely aware of that.

Gates and Mattis are both from Washington State.

Sep 13, 2019

I don't like books like this written as an autobiography with the help of a professional author (I would call him a ghostwriter but he's credited as a co-author). I would rather just have one voice speaking instead of the inauthentic mixing of two voices.

But this book is worth reading in spite of that problem. Unlike people like James Comey, James Mattis realizes he is not perfect and he shares his ideas rather than preaches them. He's not really humble, but he is down-to-earth, and his career shows how his talents have helped our country. In his service he has given more than he has received.

Donald Trump liked to call James Mattis "Mad Dog" and some others portray him as intellectual and bookish. But neither of those things really capture the man. This book does. It's worth reading.

[It's a shame that another reviewer has dashed off a silly review giving the book 1/2 star because of the reviewer's political views. Ignore that review.]

Sep 09, 2019

I bet he wishes he didn't wreck his entire career by working with the orange con man. Glad your gone Mattis.

Sep 09, 2019

Would the library consider providing copies of the audiobook for users of the library? Thank you.


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