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My Share of the Task: A Memoir

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In early March 2010, General Stanley McChrystal, the commanding officer of all U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, walked with President Hamid Karzai through a small rural bazaar. As Afghan townspeo­ple crowded around them, a Taliban rocket loudly thudded into the ground some distance away. Karzai looked to McChrystal, who shrugged. The two leaders continued greeting In early March 2010, General Stanley McChrystal, the commanding officer of all U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, walked with President Hamid Karzai through a small rural bazaar. As Afghan townspeo­ple crowded around them, a Taliban rocket loudly thudded into the ground some distance away. Karzai looked to McChrystal, who shrugged. The two leaders continued greeting the townspeople and listening to their views. That trip was typical of McChrystal’s entire career, from his first day as a West Point plebe to his last day as a four-star general. The values he has come to be widely admired for were evident: a hunger to know the truth on the ground, the courage to find it, and the humility to listen to those around him. Even as a senior commander, McChrystal stationed him­self forward, and frequently went on patrols with his troops to experience their challenges firsthand. In this illuminating memoir, McChrystal frankly explores the major episodes and controversies of his eventful career. He delves candidly into the intersection of history, leadership, and his own experience to produce a book of enduring value. Joining the troubled post-Vietnam army as a young officer, McChrystal witnessed and participated in some of our military’s most difficult struggles. He describes the many outstanding leaders he served with and the handful of bad leaders he learned not to emulate. He paints a vivid portrait of the traditional military establishment that turned itself, in one gen­eration, into the adaptive, resilient force that would soon be tested in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the wider War on Terror. McChrystal spent much of his early career in the world of special operations, at a time when these elite forces became increasingly effective—and necessary. He writes of a fight waged in the shadows by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which he led from 2003 to 2008. JSOC became one of our most effective counterterrorism weapons, facing off against Al Qaeda in Iraq. Over time, JSOC gathered staggering amounts of intelligence in order to find and remove the most influential and dangerous terrorists, including the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The hunt for Zarqawi drives some of the most grip­ping scenes in this book, as McChrystal’s team grappled with tricky interrogations, advanced but scarce technology, weeks of unbroken surveillance, and agonizing decisions. McChrystal brought the same energy to the war in Afghanistan, where the challenges loomed even larger. His revealing account draws on his close relationships with Afghan leaders, giving readers a unique window into the war and the country. Ultimately, My Share of the Task is about much more than war and peace, terrorism and counterin­surgency. As McChrystal writes, “More by luck than design, I’d been a part of some events, organizations, and efforts that will loom large in history, and more that will not. I saw selfless commitment, petty politics, unspeakable cruelty, and quiet courage in places and quantities that I’d never have imagined. But what I will remember most are the leaders.”


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In early March 2010, General Stanley McChrystal, the commanding officer of all U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, walked with President Hamid Karzai through a small rural bazaar. As Afghan townspeo­ple crowded around them, a Taliban rocket loudly thudded into the ground some distance away. Karzai looked to McChrystal, who shrugged. The two leaders continued greeting In early March 2010, General Stanley McChrystal, the commanding officer of all U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, walked with President Hamid Karzai through a small rural bazaar. As Afghan townspeo­ple crowded around them, a Taliban rocket loudly thudded into the ground some distance away. Karzai looked to McChrystal, who shrugged. The two leaders continued greeting the townspeople and listening to their views. That trip was typical of McChrystal’s entire career, from his first day as a West Point plebe to his last day as a four-star general. The values he has come to be widely admired for were evident: a hunger to know the truth on the ground, the courage to find it, and the humility to listen to those around him. Even as a senior commander, McChrystal stationed him­self forward, and frequently went on patrols with his troops to experience their challenges firsthand. In this illuminating memoir, McChrystal frankly explores the major episodes and controversies of his eventful career. He delves candidly into the intersection of history, leadership, and his own experience to produce a book of enduring value. Joining the troubled post-Vietnam army as a young officer, McChrystal witnessed and participated in some of our military’s most difficult struggles. He describes the many outstanding leaders he served with and the handful of bad leaders he learned not to emulate. He paints a vivid portrait of the traditional military establishment that turned itself, in one gen­eration, into the adaptive, resilient force that would soon be tested in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the wider War on Terror. McChrystal spent much of his early career in the world of special operations, at a time when these elite forces became increasingly effective—and necessary. He writes of a fight waged in the shadows by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which he led from 2003 to 2008. JSOC became one of our most effective counterterrorism weapons, facing off against Al Qaeda in Iraq. Over time, JSOC gathered staggering amounts of intelligence in order to find and remove the most influential and dangerous terrorists, including the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The hunt for Zarqawi drives some of the most grip­ping scenes in this book, as McChrystal’s team grappled with tricky interrogations, advanced but scarce technology, weeks of unbroken surveillance, and agonizing decisions. McChrystal brought the same energy to the war in Afghanistan, where the challenges loomed even larger. His revealing account draws on his close relationships with Afghan leaders, giving readers a unique window into the war and the country. Ultimately, My Share of the Task is about much more than war and peace, terrorism and counterin­surgency. As McChrystal writes, “More by luck than design, I’d been a part of some events, organizations, and efforts that will loom large in history, and more that will not. I saw selfless commitment, petty politics, unspeakable cruelty, and quiet courage in places and quantities that I’d never have imagined. But what I will remember most are the leaders.”

30 review for My Share of the Task: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

    Just finished this remarkable book. Not sure what I think exactly, but my initial reactions are: McChrystal can write. The book was two years in the making and although McChrystal did the bulk of the writing he had considerable help and virtually a co-author in Sam Ayers. As McChrystal himself notes the book is very carefully crafted. I think the term ‘crafted’ is an excellent descriptor. McChrystal is well read, but his reading is somewhat calculated to his own ends and limited. He is deeply read Just finished this remarkable book. Not sure what I think exactly, but my initial reactions are: McChrystal can write. The book was two years in the making and although McChrystal did the bulk of the writing he had considerable help and virtually a co-author in Sam Ayers. As McChrystal himself notes the book is very carefully crafted. I think the term ‘crafted’ is an excellent descriptor. McChrystal is well read, but his reading is somewhat calculated to his own ends and limited. He is deeply read, if not widely read. He is fond of Hobbes, Coleridge, Fall, Karnow, Homer, Huntington, Kipling and even Michener but somehow he seems to have missed people like Thomas Barfield who wrote a remarkable history of Afghanistan. The book is essentially in four parts: his time at West Point, his time as a ranger and progression in the Army, Iraq and TF 714 and finally Afghanistan. We follow his career as the military goes through considerable change from postwar Vietnam and becomes what it is today. His detail of the fighting in Iraq and the concerted efforts to get AQI terrorists especially Zarqawi is exceptional. He takes great pains to detail the efforts of men and women from not only the US Army, but other agencies to get the pieces and put them together. He also takes pains to make sure that the readers know that he acknowledged these people. The last section on Afghanistan is the most problematic. It is not problematic because McChrystal does not provide the reader with good detail it is problematic because the picture he paints is of a fight or fights we should not be in and in which we cannot possibly prevail. I’m not sure that was his intention, but that is what happens if you read the book carefully. The real problems start when he talks President Karzai into visiting areas in the outlands of Afghanistan. It starts in Marjah when Karzai is faced with blunt questions about Karzai appointed governor Sher Mohammed Akhundzaha and his hit man Abdul Rahman Jan who was clearly more hated than the Taliban. “We do not like the Taliban, but Abdul Rahman Jan and his police gangs are intolerable. They steal from us and rape our children.” Karzai, deftly handles the situation, but nothing gets changed. Similar discussions occur in Kandahar. Again nothing changes. McChrystal is fond of referring to the “Afghan state” but his descriptions of Afghanistan outside of Kabul do not indicate anything like a state. Finally, just before then end, McChrystal goes out on patrol in response to an email he gets from a SSGT Arroyo. Well, he doesn’t just go out, he goes out the day after he gets the email. “After a short brief we went on a combat patrol. Departing on foot for several hours, sweeping the area until we reached a small Afghan village, then returned. As we moved, I listened to the young leader’s thoughts and got to know members of his squad, in particular one of his team leaders, Mike Ingram ….” Okay, I‘m not denying that McChrystal did this, but assuming it is true he is the only four star in human history that would have done this. Again, I’m not saying he didn’t, but this is an incredibly self-serving story. So, who is Stan McChrystal, a super warrior who never misses a day running, who sleeps only four hours and quotes Hobbes and Bernard Fall? (Did I mention he also picked Stanley Karnow’s brain?) A man who reads emails from a hundred thousand or so soldiers? And, oh yeah, he took personal charge of showing Karzai how to be a Commander in Chief. Okay, here is my problem in a nutshell. I believe Stan McChrystal is super human or an extraordinary human in many respects. But, after I read this I went back and reread the Rolling Stone article “Runaway General.” But, the Rolling Stone article still rings true and despite McChrystal’s carefully ‘crafted’ recounting of his time in Afghanistan I still think the Rolling Stone piece has a ring of truth. I spent 27 years in the AF, my son got back from Afghanistan about two months ago. In the end I think my son’s response to my query “How was it?” when he said “Think 1950s mafia in the States, Dad” is not that different from McChrystal’s assessment. Now, will the real Stan McChrystal stand up and can he answer one question. “Is there any reason that we should be or should have been in Afghanistan at all?” Okay, that wasn’t what he was sent there to answer, but his book convinces me that it has been a terrible waste. Leaving my misc notes below. p. 328 ... wishful thinking? "Over the coming months I would spend significant time with Kayani and grow to like and respect him. His perspectives and priorities were, of course, those of a Pakistani army officer, but I found our discussions on the war and our respective strategies to be helpful. Much of our time together was spent alone, simply drinking tea and talking. The talk was substantive but never combative. I never responded well to people who were pushy or arrogant with me, and I came to believe most other people felt the same." (Spring of 2002) "... And for many Afghans, appearing to be what Westerners wanted them to be was at least polite and often expedient. Like many others, I had a nagging feeling that a whole world of Afghan power politics -- with ethnic groups jostling and old and new groups posturing -- was churning outside of ur world view. I felt like we were high school students who had wandered into a mafia-owned bar, dangerously unaware of the tensions that filled the room and the authorities who controlled it." (p.77) (Camp Atterbury, In -- 27 Nov 2012 ... my son returns from deployment to Tain Kot, Afghanistan. I ask him what it was like. He replies: "Think 1950s Mafia Dad.")

  2. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    McChrystal takes the high road in this tome. I had wanted to read his book before I read the recently released "controversial" book by Gates. It's remarkable more for what it doesn't say. He's two years my senior from a service academy and had a remarkable and rewarding career. Unlike Westmoreland and McArthur he comes across as selfless and focused on carrying out his orders to the best of his ability. There's a certain hubris but you have to have that to be a general but he's a team player and McChrystal takes the high road in this tome. I had wanted to read his book before I read the recently released "controversial" book by Gates. It's remarkable more for what it doesn't say. He's two years my senior from a service academy and had a remarkable and rewarding career. Unlike Westmoreland and McArthur he comes across as selfless and focused on carrying out his orders to the best of his ability. There's a certain hubris but you have to have that to be a general but he's a team player and not an ego maniac. You would get the perception that he and the Army had single handedly won the war in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, a Marine theater of war but then he's just telling his side of the fight. The Rolling Stone reporter gets short shrift. It was a knockout blow that he never saw coming. His staff failed him and he did not fail the President. Relieving him was the easy thing to do. He seemed to get blamed for leaks in DC and just for telling it like it is. He forged a great relationship with Karzai, something that was badly needed when Karzai thought all the "foreigners" were against him. So just when things are jelling he's pulled out of the fight. This was no Truman/McArthur moment and McChrystal doesn't even mention the obvious comparison. Just like Bush rushed to invade Fallujah after the contractors were killed, so too Obama rushed to relieve McChrystal over a magazine article. I read the book based on the Rolling Stone article, The Operators, and came away thinking "so what." It's like believing every one star review on a service/book on the internet.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Murtaza

    A fascinating account of McChrystal's time as a general in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as his experiences coming up through the military at West Point. I don't normally read military officials memoirs, usually because they are either incredibly dull or just crudely offensive, but this was neither of those. McChrystal was responsible for designing and implementing some of the deadliest "kinetic" tactics of the War on Terror, but his record of this period is one of a deeply wise individual. Alon A fascinating account of McChrystal's time as a general in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as his experiences coming up through the military at West Point. I don't normally read military officials memoirs, usually because they are either incredibly dull or just crudely offensive, but this was neither of those. McChrystal was responsible for designing and implementing some of the deadliest "kinetic" tactics of the War on Terror, but his record of this period is one of a deeply wise individual. Along with historical detail and a sympathetic personal background, he evinces genuine understanding and empathy with the perspectives of those he is fighting, as well the populations of the countries he serves in. The result is a uniquely compelling political memoir. Among other things I was very impressed with McChrystal's sober description of what fed the foreign fighter pipeline to Iraq, the calculus of local populations facing foreign occupation, the role of ideology in the conflict, and his observations on Iraqi and Afghan history and political culture. He is a deep thinker and comes across as legitimately committed to the mythos underlying the U.S. missions in these countries. He is not a cynic. Although he never says it, reading his account its clear that the United States goals in both Iraq and Afghanistan were essentially impossible to achieve. That the military was ever put in this position speaks above all to the incredible hubris of American political leadership during that period. Nonetheless McChrystal makes a decent case for how and why he wanted his forces to succeed, framed in terms of generating political stability for the local populations. I highly recommend his account of the hunt for Abu Musab Zarqawi above the more famous account in Black Flags. This is a granular, non-sensational take from someone who took part in the operation itself. McChrystal's firsthand accounts of commanding Special Operations groups in Iraq and doing COIN/political work in Afghanistan are rife with fascinating anecdotes and insights into major historical figures. He manages a remarkable amount of empathy for all sides in each of these conflicts, demonstrating great acuity at imagining himself in others shoes, including those of his direct antagonists. I found myself noting again and again that, regardless of my political disagreements with the wars themselves, this is clearly someone who understands the roots of the opposition to American military engagements in the Muslim world. Its a refreshing and honest perspective, and its not an easy accomplishment. Amazingly for a political memoir, there are no cliches in this book. McChrystal doesn't insult the readers intelligence by ever leaving the obvious unsaid, or by asking them to suspend their skepticism at any point. Regardless of ones perspective on these conflicts, or even on his own role in it, its easy to respect someone who speaks as frankly McChrystal does here. Aside from the wars, his accounts of his early life and the experience of coming up through the American military are insightful, particularly to those distant from that experience. He also manages to make many points about his leadership style that come across as genuine and noteworthy. I definitely recommended this book for those looking for an intelligent U.S. military perspective on the War on Terror.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    This is a fantastic book about leadership. The epilogue is particularly good, distilling the lessons McChrystal learned over his 34 years in the Army into an extremely powerful reflection on the evolution of his leadership, and, in what is a quite candid admission not typical of most folks who make it to the pinnacle of their profession, acknowledgement that he was still learning to be the leader he thought he should be when his career ended with his resignation of command over all NATO forces i This is a fantastic book about leadership. The epilogue is particularly good, distilling the lessons McChrystal learned over his 34 years in the Army into an extremely powerful reflection on the evolution of his leadership, and, in what is a quite candid admission not typical of most folks who make it to the pinnacle of their profession, acknowledgement that he was still learning to be the leader he thought he should be when his career ended with his resignation of command over all NATO forces in Afghanistan. There are a few other key points I'd like to mention: 1. McChrystal is an introvert. A bit surprising for someone who did a stint as Pentagon press briefer during the early stages of the Iraq War. 2. McChrystal is a fan of audiobooks and would listen to them during his daily runs while deployed. 3. The book provides an extremely detailed account of what could be termed the evolution of the JSOC targeting 'machine.' McChrystal was at the helm of this organization for an unprecedented 5 straight years, the vast majority of which he spent downrange commanding counterterror operations from Iraq or Afghanistan. This is the machine that then-VADM Bill McRaven would use to conduct the raid that netted Usama bin Ladin in 2011. JSOC assaulters went from conducting a few raids a month when he assumed command to doing dozens every night in Iraq and Afghanistan by the time he left. A great deal of this came from his leadership. He would accompany his forces on the raids routinely, to gain and maintain rapport with the Tier One operators. And McChrystal gives the most detailed account I have ever seen of how his outfit found and then killed Abu Musab al Zarqawi in Iraq in 2006. This part of the book was of particular interest to me, for when I served in Iraq in 2005-06, Zarqawi was at the top of everyone's list. He was killed only a few months after I redeployed to the U.S. 4. In books like these, I most enjoy the parts where they talk about the early parts of their careers, when they were young up-and-comers who probably had no real clue about how their lives would end up. Sure, they probably had hopes, but did Captain McChrystal really ever think he would be a 4-star general in charge of a war in a foreign country? Probably not, but that's where he ended up. On an administrative note, I thought I had finished this audiobook on 12 Feb, but when the audio ended, McChrystal was still in command in Afghanistan, which we all know is not how things ended, and I knew from reviews I had read of the book that he did treat the magazine article that ended his career in the book. After a period of troubleshooting, I was able to re-download the audio for the final third of the book, the full version (I realized I had been shorted by about 45 minutes of audio the first time around), and completed listening on 20 Feb. I highly recommend this well-written and informative book. You will learn a lot about leadership from it.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Liam

    This was easily one of the most boring memoirs I've ever read; perhaps the most boring military memoir that I have read, and I've read quite a few. I am being charitable in giving it a two star rating. If this book is an accurate reflection of his character & personality, General Stanley McChrystal must be an incredibly shallow individual. If this is the sort of leader the 21st Century all-volunteer U.S. Army is meant to produce, that institution is setting itself up for a rough time, possibly This was easily one of the most boring memoirs I've ever read; perhaps the most boring military memoir that I have read, and I've read quite a few. I am being charitable in giving it a two star rating. If this book is an accurate reflection of his character & personality, General Stanley McChrystal must be an incredibly shallow individual. If this is the sort of leader the 21st Century all-volunteer U.S. Army is meant to produce, that institution is setting itself up for a rough time, possibly even catastrophe, in the not-too-distant future. The truly shocking thing is that General McChrystal spent much of his career in the Special Operations community! Rather than unimaginative, uninspiring, life-long conformists like General McChrystal, who tend to be overly-influenced by peer pressure, the army needs more officers like the late, very much lamented Colonel David H. Hackworth, a brilliant iconoclast whose extraordinary life and career, incredible courage and reckless bravery in battle continue to inspire young officers & enlisted soldiers throughout the U.S. Armed Forces and beyond; or like General David Petraeus (later Director of Central Intelligence), a contemporary of McChrystal, whose intellectual curiosity & scholarship, personal bravery & élan, willingness to take risks, intense creativity and skillful leadership exemplify the very best qualities of military officers throughout history... *Later addition- 29 October 2016 I just read, somewhat belatedly, Jerome's review of this book (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...). I'm glad I didn't notice it before, as it might have caused me to doubt my conclusions- Jerome and I are roughly in agreement on the merits of the vast majority of books we've both read. I actually can't think of another book which he and I have seen so differently. I hope some of the other members of the WWII & Military Professionals groups review this, so we can see which side they come down on...

  6. 4 out of 5

    James

    When Stanley McChrystal commanded the special operations task force in Iraq, he sent liaison officers to all of the major conventional commands, young majors and lieutenant colonels whom he hand-picked for their intelligence, their confidence, and their understanding of and links within his task force. Some of them were steely-eyed operators from Task Force Green, and others were chemical corps officers or signaleers from his staff. The common denominator was his level of trust in them, and he e When Stanley McChrystal commanded the special operations task force in Iraq, he sent liaison officers to all of the major conventional commands, young majors and lieutenant colonels whom he hand-picked for their intelligence, their confidence, and their understanding of and links within his task force. Some of them were steely-eyed operators from Task Force Green, and others were chemical corps officers or signaleers from his staff. The common denominator was his level of trust in them, and he empowered them with unlimited direct access. In 2008, his liaison officer to my organization was a disheveled, slightly roly-poly naval officer, and my general--deeply committed to hierarchy and physical appearances--viewed and treated him as an insignificant minion. Each night we would brief my general face-to-face on the fight against both al Qaeda in Iraq and the various Shia militias, and my general would heap scorn and abuse on "Gilligan," the derisive local nickname for the liaison officer. "Gilligan" would take it all quietly and professionally, and then retreat to his little plywood cubby, like Harry Potter under the stairs, and call directly to then Lieutenant General McChrystal at his desk and have a 20-30 minute conversation about our share of the task. McChrystal really did flatten his organization, and he had a remarkable facility for choosing and trusting competent subordinates as individuals rather than assessing everyone against the same cookie-cutter model. Stanley McChrystal wouldn't know me from a random panhandler, but I know him well. Or rather, I have a clear perspective from the view of a junior staffer who watched him work and spent 20-hour days for nearly two years working with his organization. His views on leadership, counterterrorism, and our national security establishment carry great weight for those of us who watched him and his outfit in action. Watching him lead a video teleconference at 2:00 in the morning bringing together multiple military and civilian organizations to achieve a common purpose was both a pleasure and an education. McChrystal's subordinates were fiercely loyal to this notoriously challenging task-master. He demanded much and only retained those who consistently delivered. They would, and did, follow him into hell knowing he would resource their mission, back their honest mistakes, and never, ever, squander their lives. It is, therefore disappointing that the majority of his memoir is so banal. I began the book in a state of near hero-worship for perhaps the finest senior leader I saw in action in Iraq and Afghanistan, and I interpreted his comments in the introduction as a preview of thoughtful evaluation and tough talk to come. Instead, My Share of the Task is a workmanlike recounting of a story that has already been told. McChrystal is far too gentlemanly to name names or air dirty laundry. The very characteristics that make him an extraordinary leader preclude him from dishing the dirt. Having ended his career precipitously due to excessive candor with a journalist, he is not likely now to be more open, and he is not the sort of man to bear grudges or settle scores. That left him with two choices, and he chose the road more traveled. McChrystal could have used his reputation and his personal experience at the very heart of the Global War on Terror to build a strong analytical case for what we should have done, what we did, and what we should do going forward. Instead he tells the story of the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq at the very tactical level. Creating an overall strategy was not McChrystal's share of the task, and he should not be held accountable for failing to do it, but his title indicates that his book will stay firmly "in his lane" and therefore fail to provide much new or enlightening material. He then falls into the trap of personalizing the fight against AQI as a fight against Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a view belied by the recent rise of the Islamic State under Zarqawi's successors. Zarqawi's death and the slaughter of mid-level AQI leaders in 2007 and 2008 dampened the violence and opened a geographic and temporal space for reconciliation, but the rise of al Baghdadi and IS shows that the grievances and viciousness of the Iraqi Sunni extremists was far larger and more entrenched than any single leader. The AQI emirs of 2008 were low-grade street thugs, a few murderously clever, but mostly just violent sociopaths with no particular charisma or organizational acumen. The fuel for their insurgency, however, remained. If anything, the Maliki government stoked the fire. McChrystal's focus on AQI also demonstrates the strategic blindness of the entire U.S. Iraq operation. By 2007, Shia militias and Iranian influence posed at least as great a long-term threat to U.S. interests in the region as Salafist extremism. Yes, AQI and Zarqawi were stoking the fires of sectarian hatred, but that fire was dangerous to the U.S. specifically because it opened the path for Iranian influence. Zarqawi's fatal miscalculation stemmed from his combination of psychotic violence with poor math skills. There was no way the Sunnis in Iraq could prevail once the Iranian-backed Shia militias were armed and supported by the Republican Guards Quds Force. There were too many Shias with too many weapons, and they were willing to fight. Toppling and suppressing them posed a much greater challenge than keeping them fragmented and suppressed had under Saddam. Although one element of McChrystal's task force focused exclusively on Shia militias, and even though those militias posed the greatest threat to U.S. forces by the end of 2007, McChrystal pays them insufficient attention. He fails to step back and look not at whether his task force did a good job of fighting AQI (they did) but rather at whether the U.S. was focusing its efforts in the right direction. McChrystal gets closer to a valuable analysis when he describes his early days as COMISAF/ COMUSFOR-A in Afghanistan, but then he slips into the can-doism that makes it so difficult for senior military commanders to provide useful advice to our civilian masters. McChrystal holds Hamid Karzai in far higher regard than any other American official. He illustrates the mission creep that made any reasonable vision of "success" or "victory" in Afghanistan impossible, but he never steps back and seriously challenges the premises of the mission. Those who continue to push the Afghanistan mission beyond its narrow counter-al Qaeda foundation do not address how we, as outsiders, can build a functional Afghan state without sufficient buy-in from the various Afghan power-brokers, nor how we can generate that buy-in. Army officers do not reach four stars by telling their superiors "we can't," and McChrystal, despite excelling his peers in so many other ways, is no exception. His assessment and the assessments of every other general to manage our longest war have hinged on a prescription for resources and time that take little account of political realities, even if the assessments are accurate in themselves. I enjoyed reading My Share of the Task for the recap of events that shaped much of my past decade and a half. I knew some of the people who played roles in his operations, I've walked the ground he describes, and I was a back-seater in some of the meetings he recounts. It was a pleasant walk down memory lane, but it ultimately disappointed.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Tim Rose

    I approached reading General Stanley McChrystal’s memoir, My Share of the Task, with high expectations. I tend to read a lot of memoirs from high ranking military leaders with noted observations on some of the habits and techniques that made them successful. While a lot of people are awed by General McChrystal’s one meal a day and his rigorous daily exercise, I found that his success as a leader can be summarized in one word: Passion. General McChrystal’s passion for his soldiers and the men and I approached reading General Stanley McChrystal’s memoir, My Share of the Task, with high expectations. I tend to read a lot of memoirs from high ranking military leaders with noted observations on some of the habits and techniques that made them successful. While a lot of people are awed by General McChrystal’s one meal a day and his rigorous daily exercise, I found that his success as a leader can be summarized in one word: Passion. General McChrystal’s passion for his soldiers and the men and women he served with nearly overwhelms (in a good way) the reader on each page. It becomes very clear to the reader that General McChrystal’s passion for service and passion for command was the bedrock upon which he was not only personally successful but also drove the success of the units that he led. Furthermore, it cannot be understated how his wife and his family supported him in his demanding profession. The gratitude that he feels toward his family is also clear throughout the book, and he has no illusions that without his families unwavering support, he would not have been able to accomplish his “share of the task.” Throughout the book, I appreciated General McChrystal’s candor. He wasn’t too proud to admit occasional mistakes, and he explicitly states that there were times when he had to figure out his own style of leadership. He mentions that occasionally he would try to find his direction between being too kind and too harsh. Ultimately, he learned that there was a value in just being consistent. I made note of those small nuggets of wisdom that permeate the book. Additionally, General McChrystal continually mentions his love for history and reading. He applied sharp analysis to a multitude of situations by simply reading books and resources that could give him context to the complexity of certain situations. He fits a pattern of extraordinary military readers who are voracious readers. Throughout the book, I took away lessons on building teams by knowing your soldiers and employing them in accordance with their capabilities. Additionally, General McChrystal built strong teams through trust. The book becomes exceptionally thrilling in the chapters in which his team hunted Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. In some of the most critical moments during the hunt for the terrorist ringleader, General McChrystal displayed a high level of trust in the judgment of his subordinates. This includes moments in which he wanted to act on some intelligence, but had the patience to trust the advice of a subordinate in his task force named J.C. In a critical moment during the hunt for Zarqawi, J.C. advised tactical patience to which McChryatal agreed. The decision paid off not too long after he displayed trust in J.C.’s judgment. Furthermore, on the Zarqawi takedown, I was interested in the conduct of the interrogations and how the interrogators got some of the key detainees talk. In what I came to recognize as McChrystal’s style, the interrogations were successful due to the rapport and trust that the interrogators built with high level detainees. They learned about some of these detainees personally, and managed to leverage their egos and idiosyncratic behavior traits to their advantage. Overall, I loved reading about McChrystal’s time in Iraq as JSOC commander. It was impressive to hear how he constructed his own network to defeat the insurgent network. He clearly had a strong sense of the need to streamline the cycle of intelligence gathering and used it to drive operational tempo. The results speak for themselves in Iraq. General McChrystal personally drove the pace of operations through his relentless drive and unwavering work ethic. The chapters on Afghanistan are informative as well. General McChrystal clearly had his work cut out for him from the beginning. He sought to replicate many of the principles that made him and his team successful in Iraq. The reader also sees him thrust into a new role in which for better or worse he was forced to handle the political dynamics that came with the role of ISAF commander. But, he managed to succeed despite some of these early setbacks, and ultimately secured a similar surge of troops in Afghanistan to accomplish the new counterinsurgency strategy. One senses the overwhelming nature of the task and the immense heartaches and pains of trying to turn the Afghan situation around. It feels abrupt, which it was due to the release of the career damning Rolling Stone article. General McChrystal doesn’t make any excuses or apologies for it though. In the end, he left his command and the Army, and after reading about the challenges and burdens placed upon him in over thirty years of hard service, the reader can sympathize with his wife, Annie, who at the book’s conclusion, felt a sense of relief once her husband’s journey in the Army came to an end. General McChrystal’s legacy continues in the military today. His actions as JSOC commander deserve careful study, and will be canonized in American military history. Through his personal example of leadership and his unrelenting passion for his soldiers and his country, General McChrystal will endure on the roster of great American military leaders. This book is devoid of bravado. It is a testament to the straightforwardness and humility of a man who embodies service and sacrifice to his soldiers and a grateful nation.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Todd

    As may be expected, General McChrystal is often long-winded, especially throughout the first half of the book. The second half of the book (covering the capture of Hussein and Zarqawi), however, is very interesting and much more exciting. I suggest skimming the first half and giving a closer read to the latter.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Greg Holman

    Who stays in a theater for 5 years!? Regardless of what you may think of him, that is amazing!

  10. 5 out of 5

    CHAD FOSTER

    Assessing the value of any memoir is usually problematic, even with a period of separation from the key events described. However, I feel safe in saying that this one has minimal value beyond illustrating the frustrating paucity of US strategic thinking. Gen(ret.) McChrystal’s military career was impressive, but he was the absolute wrong choice to command the mission in Afghanistan. If you need someone to take over an organization with an already well-defined function, McChrystal is the guy you Assessing the value of any memoir is usually problematic, even with a period of separation from the key events described. However, I feel safe in saying that this one has minimal value beyond illustrating the frustrating paucity of US strategic thinking. Gen(ret.) McChrystal’s military career was impressive, but he was the absolute wrong choice to command the mission in Afghanistan. If you need someone to take over an organization with an already well-defined function, McChrystal is the guy you want. He’ll make it efficient and likely build cohesion among the team. Case in point: his time leading the counter-terrorism strikes in Iraq that read like the stuff of an action novel. However, in Afghanistan we needed someone to take over an enterprise where the leader had to deal in fundamental ambiguity - What are we doing? ... Why are we doing it? ... Do we even need to do it? ... Are we even playing the right sport? It wasn’t about answering questions. It was a matter of figuring out what the right questions were in the first place. McChrystal was (is) a brilliant tactician. He is full of catchy phrases and euphemisms commonly found in self-help and “leadership” works lining the shelves of airport bookstores. His thinking isn’t bad when it comes to those things. But he is not a strategic thinker - at least, he didn’t demonstrate that unique (and essential) skill set as the 4-Star commander in Afghanistan. Despite protests to the contrary, he largely took the Iraq “template” (a flawed model that has been falsely mythologized by self-serving sycophants and charlatans both in and out of uniform), and tried to drop it on the very different problem in Afghanistan. Sadly, this was just another replay of the population-centric counterinsurgency narrative made famous by the most ardent self-promoter of recent decades, David Petraeus. Population-centric COIN is not strategy. It is a collection of enlightened-sounding tactics masquerading as strategy. McChrystal’s accounts of his interactions with key American and foreign leaders are remarkable for their sterility. Everyone is “impressive.” Perhaps it was born from the sting of being dismissed, but it felt like he was really trying to avoid ruffling any feathers on the way into retirement. Maybe to ensure access later as a one of the ubiquitous leadership “consultants” in DC? The habit of ingratiating yourself to people in positions of power becomes deeply ingrained. The early descriptions of his career made me feel uneasy at times. He seemingly viewed his first company-level command as solely a means to an end of getting into the Rangers - because, you know, those “icky” mechanized units and regular Army soldiers are so beneath him. Most of McChrystal’s career was, in fact, absorbed in the secretive world of Ranger and Special Ops unit. This alone should have given decision-makers pause in selecting him for the extremely high profile job of commanding an international effort in the proverbial “graveyard of empires.” Is it really surprising that McChrystal and the tight circle of courtiers that surrounded him would prove unable to handle the inquisitiveness of a single reporter from “Rolling Stone” magazine? It shouldn’t be. Additionally, he speaks of the “humbling” experience of not being selected for early promotion once (called a “BZ” or below-the-zone promotion). Then he quickly reminds the reader that he was selected BZ later - multiple times. That subsequent clarification was not germane to any important point - it merely served the purpose of ego-stroking. Others might disagree, but I detected a copious amount of false humility throughout the book. Unlike Petraeus who was so self-absorbed that he could not even remotely disguise it, McChrystal was (is) much more adept at concealing his ego beneath the right language. Overall, an over-hyped book. Not particularly valuable. Read “Obama’s Wars” by Bob Woodward instead if you want better insights into the making of the US policy for Afghanistan in the early years of the Obama administration. If you want yet another sterile and self-serving memoir by a general officer with pretensions to “Warrior monk” status, this book will fit the bill.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Duong

    This is essentially a personal account of how to lead in the modern era. Stanley McChrystal is a retired general, and one of the essential players in the post 9/11 world. He comes from a family with a rich military background, and attended the prestigious west point academy. The writing style of the book is introspective, filled with facts, and personal anecdotes of the "war on terror". He is renowned for his transformation of the special operations military into the efficient killing machine th This is essentially a personal account of how to lead in the modern era. Stanley McChrystal is a retired general, and one of the essential players in the post 9/11 world. He comes from a family with a rich military background, and attended the prestigious west point academy. The writing style of the book is introspective, filled with facts, and personal anecdotes of the "war on terror". He is renowned for his transformation of the special operations military into the efficient killing machine that it currently is. If one is looking for an insight into "how" the war was fought in Afghanistan and Iraq then this is a must read. The "why" is a bit more ambiguous as that question is rarely relayed to a soldier following orders, and often times the general can only see from that purview. He talks about the types of leadership that inspired him throughout his career, and it is by no surprise that it's mostly related to military leaders. McChrystal does make the distinction that while he reads the leaders for better sense of how he should lead, it is never to replicate their leadership, but rather find his own identity in leading. I find that inspiring because often times we have idols and heroes in which we try to replicate, and in doing so lose our sense of self along the way. The human barbie and ken doll are extreme examples of this. He provides one with an inescapable feeling that one must have foundation to lead, but when the time comes to lead those things are guide post, and the person is the real actor. One of the most appreciable thing about this book was the feeling that McChrystal genuinely cared for the most costly thing about war, the human life. This would seem difficult and impossible to have and express given the complicated situation of war. His empathy was most prevalent when he was in a car with another commander, and the commander was relaying about the loss of a dog in a mission. He quickly snapped back that all the commander cared about was a dog, when six human lives were lost. The six human lives were enemy combatant. It is profound that he is even thinking about such a thing, when they represented a direct opposition to those he lead, and their mission. Many would argue that he doesn't get to be humanist given the vast amounts of lives that die at his command, but they are wrong. One cannot be stripped of the quality of their empathy given their material condition. People can make him feel guilty, sad, and angry about any amount of rhetorical analysis, but they cannot take that.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Pat Rauch

    BOOK REVIEW MY SHARE OF THE TASK MEMOIRS OF GENERAL STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL Stanley McChrystal achieved everything he wanted as a boy. Except, he never planned that he would have a wife and a child. So much for planning on not falling love. Annie is the woman he married the daughter of a military family. West Point for Stanley was not easy. He did what he wanted and was very cavalier about his studies and duties at West Point. Humorous as he makes it sound that meant he was not going anywhere when he BOOK REVIEW MY SHARE OF THE TASK MEMOIRS OF GENERAL STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL Stanley McChrystal achieved everything he wanted as a boy. Except, he never planned that he would have a wife and a child. So much for planning on not falling love. Annie is the woman he married the daughter of a military family. West Point for Stanley was not easy. He did what he wanted and was very cavalier about his studies and duties at West Point. Humorous as he makes it sound that meant he was not going anywhere when he graduated. After much soul searching, he decided he wanted to be a Ranger. He was now in his junior year. Time to get with the program. This was a serious move not just for him but his father was an officer in the Army. He had to follow in his father’s footsteps he felt it would embarrass his father after coming this far and going nowhere in the Army. Annie and Stanley were married had their first and only child. He knew he found a soul mate. No matter the assignment she would meet him at work. From base to base he was transferred the car was packed it was a new adventure. Soon he would learn that military life was not all paperwork, working out, and directing the enlisted to reach higher limits. A plane hit a chopper in an exercise very few survived. This was his first task of being a leader being a comfort to the severely injured and to those who lost loved ones he needed to be the officer that bore the burden of grief and brought hope to the families. This was his real trial. Annie at this point became his helper. She was not just a wife anymore. She visited the injured but, also shared the pain that the family suffered. They needed comfort. For the dead the family needed her to listen to them as they cried as she offered words and shared in their loss. Stanley had many short deployments. Iraq was not his biggest trial but a real challenge. The carnage was devastating. If he had not seen the carnage from the plane and chopper crash, he would not have been able to keep his emotions intact. They would have run wild which would have ended his career. This chapter of his life leads him to Michael Flynn who will become his lifelong friend and someone to guide him through this mess that was handed to him. Michael Flynn’s attitude unlike all the others deployed was a brilliant analyst he cared like Stanley about civilian casualties while still fighting the war on insurgents, and avoiding IED’s. Michael Flynn knew Iraq. He knew what was needed to be done to stop the bloodletting on all sides, yet still squashing the insurgents without collateral damage. Drones helped and an upgraded internet system the insurgents hopefully could be caught to be interrogated. The one that got away was Zarqawi. Others were caught or killed but this man always gave them the slip at the last minute or guided them in the wrong direction. Finally, he was killed but not without Michael’s perseverance. Stanley’s next stop in the chain of command is Afghanistan. He hoped to be home that was not possible. It has been at least two more years since he saw Annie. The emails still went out to remind her that he loved her, however, the military was his job. Afghanistan was a place of chaos. The killing was done by warlords, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, along with the NATO forces, and sharia law. The people should be ruled by the president installed by the occupiers. But whoever walked into their towns, villages, or cities took control for a time then left the people to scramble for a new form of order. Stanley’s first order of business was to form a team much like he had in Iraq. They were to go out and talk to the people listen to what they needed. Michael Flynn’s idea of taking down the bad guys was going out to the villages and towns to speak with the people. NATO would bomb with reckless abandon that civilians injured, maimed, or dead. This did nothing to ensure the Afghan people that the peacekeepers were indeed there to protect the people. Hatred was growing for the invaders. Stanley had to stop this war. Trips to Europe to meet with NATO he hoped he could make them understand that the will of the people was what they wanted just to be safe. The plus side of these trips was Annie would meet him for a brief visit of a few days. On one occasion she met him in Paris for their wedding anniversary with Michael Flynn and his wife. It was pleasant to spend time away from the chaos of Afghanistan celebrate his anniversary and have his friend along with his spouse. A turning point in Afghanistan was when NATO bombed a fuel truck stuck in a muddy river. The explosion and fire caused a great deal of deaths, severe injuries, and people that were burned had no hope of recovery. Treating the badly injured and burned was not for a primitive hospital that offered basic medical and surgical care. Stanley convinced Karzai to go with him to the village to console and grieve with the people. Listen to the people was Stanley’s advice. Karzai agreed to go. They met with the village people at a mosque. Karzai was positioned up front Stanley sat in the back. It was the president’s job now. There was rage but Karzai had to listen to the village people. It was negligible if Karzai cared or even felt any empathy. One thing for certain it was his job and Stanley’s to alleviate the pain that was felt by these people. On page 387, Stanley’s career takes a turn. The press is invited to embed with him and the Team. The press was “Rolling Stone”. Rolling Stone describes Stanley as “The runaway General”. He was described by his troops as hard driving and struggling with the United States policy in Afghanistan. These opinions supposedly came from his Team. Washington read the news coming out of Rolling Stone’s published article about how he handled his troops. He was recalled and fired. After a five-year separation he was with Annie. No more brief meetings when he had a NATO conference. His sendoff was like a wedding. He did not wear his dress uniform he wore fatigues. His sendoff was attended by all who served with him. Those who attended were his students, his fellow alumni, and of course friends that were made on deployments and at West Point. It was bittersweet. He would miss them all. But he was now with Annie after a five-year separation. This was quite a sendoff for someone who was a screw up according to Rolling Stone. This book offers a good insight to both a husband and wife who served or is still serving in the military. The life of a soldier and what it takes to stay in West Point. How West Point can either turn a person into an instructor who never rises through the ranks or someone who becomes a general. A reminder with all the demons he encountered, the carnage, and brutality he never lost his soul. He also never lost his love for his wife and son. Stanley was let go from service in the military. Only to get back to the life he never for a minute forgot. He never ignored those he loved and missed reminded her nightly wherever he was that he loved her and knew how much she missed him. This book was a good read!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    General Stanley McChrystal service in the U.S. Army and his service to his country spanned decades and continents. From the halls of West Point, to the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, this is his story in the fight against terror. Why I started this book: My introduction to McChrystal was shaped by my reading of Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, Obama's Wars, One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War, Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan and other books about General Stanley McChrystal service in the U.S. Army and his service to his country spanned decades and continents. From the halls of West Point, to the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, this is his story in the fight against terror. Why I started this book: My introduction to McChrystal was shaped by my reading of Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, Obama's Wars, One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War, Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan and other books about Afghanistan's recent struggles. Why I finished it: It is a very thin pancake that only has one side. McChrystal doesn't spend any time defending himself, other than saying that an Army investigation later cleared him of wrong doing and found that events were different than those stated in the Rolling Stones article. McChrystal built his career in the special forces on principles of transparency and cooperation and he ended his career with the same principles. Very interesting.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Fran Johnson

    Excellent book, written by an educated retired general. Much of his career was spent in Special Forces and he explains what was done to find and eliminate high level terrorists. This is extremely interesting. He shares his thoughts about leadership and anyone hoping to become a leader can gain valuable insights and skills by reading this. I was impressed by his sincere and thoughtful reflections of important events and particularly noticed the humility of one in such a high ranking position. Unl Excellent book, written by an educated retired general. Much of his career was spent in Special Forces and he explains what was done to find and eliminate high level terrorists. This is extremely interesting. He shares his thoughts about leadership and anyone hoping to become a leader can gain valuable insights and skills by reading this. I was impressed by his sincere and thoughtful reflections of important events and particularly noticed the humility of one in such a high ranking position. Unlike most books written by former commanders... his last assignment was commander of US forces in Afghanistan... he doesn't try to explain away problems and mistakes. He just lays out the facts as he saw them. After an article in Rolling Stones Magazine portrayed people under his command as making demeaning remarks about the President, he offered and his offer to resign was accepted by President Obama. A later investigation showed that no department standards were violated and that not all events were as portrayed in the article. It seems a shame that our country has been denied the talents of such a knowledgable man. However, this is but a small part of his story. This is a very interesting book,spell binding, and true.

  15. 4 out of 5

    XXX

    I really do think McChrystal is a brilliant person/general and his insights on the military, leadership, war, Iraq, and Afghanistan are always intriguing. It was especially interesting to hear his thoughts on how to build good group "institutions" through leadership and organization. Still, he can get a bit bogged down in the details. When discussing his organization in Iraq (that eventually killed Zarqawi), he emphasizes the effectiveness of his decentralized approach. There are clearly pros to I really do think McChrystal is a brilliant person/general and his insights on the military, leadership, war, Iraq, and Afghanistan are always intriguing. It was especially interesting to hear his thoughts on how to build good group "institutions" through leadership and organization. Still, he can get a bit bogged down in the details. When discussing his organization in Iraq (that eventually killed Zarqawi), he emphasizes the effectiveness of his decentralized approach. There are clearly pros to this--more initiative from lower down e.g. But many smart leaders presumably choose a more centralized system. While I trust McChrystal's judgment, it's hard to be convinced by the details here. Most are simply "because of the decentralized system, we got this insight." Frankly, I feel like it would be hard for me to tap in enough to that world to understand why his leadership succeeded so clearly.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brian Piercy

    Kinda meh. The majority of the book is a review of his career and touches on most of the major Iraq and Afghanistan stories that I'd previously read elsewhere. While moderately interesting it shed little new light for me. I also noticed that he chose to describe his colleagues in nothing less than flattering terms. While I wasn't looking for a "hatchet job", it left me feeling like he left his real feelings out of the book. The epilogue is, for me, the most valuable section. It describes his appr Kinda meh. The majority of the book is a review of his career and touches on most of the major Iraq and Afghanistan stories that I'd previously read elsewhere. While moderately interesting it shed little new light for me. I also noticed that he chose to describe his colleagues in nothing less than flattering terms. While I wasn't looking for a "hatchet job", it left me feeling like he left his real feelings out of the book. The epilogue is, for me, the most valuable section. It describes his approach to leadership and is worth a 2nd read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Frank Kelly

    An honest and humble memoir from one our nation's greatest living soldiers. His account of his career starting from his childhood upbringing through his transformation at West Point to his many assignments leading up to and including his time in Iraq and Afghanistan are full of success and, quite interestingly, failures and setbacks which helped make him a better leader and man. His epilogue was superb, sharing his views on leadership and what it really takes to be a leader today and everyday. H An honest and humble memoir from one our nation's greatest living soldiers. His account of his career starting from his childhood upbringing through his transformation at West Point to his many assignments leading up to and including his time in Iraq and Afghanistan are full of success and, quite interestingly, failures and setbacks which helped make him a better leader and man. His epilogue was superb, sharing his views on leadership and what it really takes to be a leader today and everyday. His book, like his entire career, is a service to us all.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I have never read a military man book before - man, was this fascinating! General McChrystal was the leader of NATO and the US Armed Forces in Afghanistan. He was also the commander of special operations in Iraq. He wrote of his time at West Point, of his training as a paratrooper and then a Green Beret. I learned how important surveillance aircraft is, how the armed forces tracked down Al-Zarqawi at his compound in Iraq and I got to hang out with Afghani Prime Minister Karzai. General McChrysta I have never read a military man book before - man, was this fascinating! General McChrystal was the leader of NATO and the US Armed Forces in Afghanistan. He was also the commander of special operations in Iraq. He wrote of his time at West Point, of his training as a paratrooper and then a Green Beret. I learned how important surveillance aircraft is, how the armed forces tracked down Al-Zarqawi at his compound in Iraq and I got to hang out with Afghani Prime Minister Karzai. General McChrystal has led a fascinating life and I am glad he shared it with us in this memoir.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Justin Tapp

    I read this immediately after reading Broadwell's bio of David Petraeus. This book is exponentially better. It opens with his foreword that publishing was delayed by a year due to editing and security screening by the Pentagon, and his frustrations with that process. As a result, he states had to alter some of the content, facts, details, but felt that the stories were still close enough to maintain their integrity. That's a good note for reading any modern war memoir-- remember that it's been m I read this immediately after reading Broadwell's bio of David Petraeus. This book is exponentially better. It opens with his foreword that publishing was delayed by a year due to editing and security screening by the Pentagon, and his frustrations with that process. As a result, he states had to alter some of the content, facts, details, but felt that the stories were still close enough to maintain their integrity. That's a good note for reading any modern war memoir-- remember that it's been made less-true by the Pentagon. This book is a bit dry if you're not deeply interested in tactical operations and planning of special operations and the lives of officers. While the Epilogue contains the outline for his next book on leadership, there is not a lot of explicit leadership teaching that takes place in the book. Being from the first-person, you have no idea what others really think about him or how effective they saw him. One caveat to this book is that you do not get the dirty reality of combat from the ground-level as in Filkins' The Forever War, American Sniper, or Lone Soldier, which cover some of the same territory and operations. I would also recommend Thomas Ricks' The Generals which covers the breakdown of accountability in command of the U.S. Armed Forces to get an appreciation for how rare it is that McChrystal was fired. But some of the reality seeps through as McChrystal sees Iraq deteriorating in 2004, is disgusted by Abu Gharaib, is furious over civilian casualties in Afghanistan, and lacks words to explain to his soldiers why they're there. The only f-bomb tirade in the book comes when he takes command of ISAF and makes a point that they have to stop killing civilians to have a shot at turning the country around. Like most Americans, my view of McChrystal was colored by the Rolling Stone article that led to his resignation (as well as the 60 Minutes piece that highlighted on his rigorous physical discipline of running). I think the recent exposure of Rolling Stone's publication of proven falsehoods (the false rape at UVA), subsequent retraction, and determination of The Columbia Graduate Schoolof Journalism that Rolling Stone failed to follow "basic practice" of journalism is enough to make that a blurb, not to mention that McChrystal was cleared by two Pentagon investigations that discovered no violation of ethics standards or eyewitnesses supporting the journalist's account. But anti-military types might reject this book out of hand. I give this book 4 stars out of 5. McChrystal comes across as introspective, constantly observing the culture around him as well as what is going on inside his own head. He has an MS and served as a fellow on the Council on Foreign Relations along with spending time at Harvard, so he's not a low-IQ individual. He listens to audiobooks on his long runs and lists several that impacted him when deployed (Freakonomics being one). At the time of publishing he was teaching a course on leadership at Yale. The author was the son of a Vietnam veteran and grew up playing with GI Joes and reading juvenile biographies of various war heroes. He grew up near West Point and took it as a given that he'd go there. He struggled with math and science but excelled at history. He continually earned demerits for his "behavioral nonsense." He married the daughter of a veteran, and while her perspective is missing from the book he seems to want to express his love for her throughout the book; while leaving out much of the rest of his family life. He was at West Point in 1971 at the height of the unpopularity of the Vietnam War and was finishing school at a time the Army's morale had sunk to new lows. After joining the Green Berets he noted the poor morale, discipline, and leadership demonstrated by drug and alcohol abuse. After the Iran hostage rescue debacle and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the U.S. Special Forces saw increased investment from the government and a great deal of reform. Much of this book is about the reform and evolution of the Special Forces through the 80's-90's and after 9/11 and Iraq. He served in a mechanized infantry battalion before joining the Rangers in the 1980s, but he was stateside when Reagan sent them into Panama and his wife had to talk him out of his disappointment. McChrystal would go back and forth between Rangers and the 82nd Airborne, initially under Gen. Abizaide. During the '91 Gulf War he worked with a British SAS commander and forged a friendship that would last through his Afghanistan deployment. After his "good experience" at Harvard he returned to the Rangers and saw deployment in Afghanistan in May 2002. The largest part of the book focuses on his assignment in Iraq to capture Al-Zarqawi and degrade his terrorist network as part of Task Force 6-26. It has much historical value in showing how tactics evolved as the enemy evolved, and the difficulties of both winning hearts and minds as well as capturing a high-value target. As McChrystal was head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC, which he calls "Task Force 714") he shuttled between the U.S., Afghanistan, and Iraq and the jobs blur together. While he notes his disgust at Abu Gharaib he highlights how his men upgraded prisons. But, I notice that there were several stories over that period of how his men controversially engaged in enhanced interrogation procedures in Iraq. In contrast, in the book he describes in detail the long, pain-staking process of getting information from prisoners without torture. Similarly, McChrystal describes at length the Pat Tillman affair. Tillman was awarded for the valor of his maneuvers, not for being killed. McChrystal claims that he assumed others in contact with the family would inform them of the friendly fire. He notes that he was accused of cover-up because his communications in regards to Tillman were classified, but he notes that as JSOC commander all of his communications were required to be classified. It is interesting, but somewhat dry, as Task Force 714's hunt for Zarqawi continues. McChrystal is coordinating with CIA analysts, incorporating more sophisticated signals intelligence and other technology such as drones, and patiently waiting on leads from prisoners and informants, all while others worked with the Iraqi government to bring about stability and democracy. When "experts" talk of defeating ISIL in Iraq today, they seem to be ignorant of the years of ground work that had to be done to dismantle a much more localized network of terrorists. McChrystal was "surprised" in 2002 to see how the Bush Administration seemed to be focusing less on Afghanistan and more on Iraq. He registered concern after the total number of the army of Iraqi defectors supposedly eager to fight Saddam was fewer than 100, noting that the "signs were there" that the Iraq war was not being sold at face value. He writes of meetings where Rumsfeld differed with the military staff and the friction between the civilian and military leadership, noting that both are good-intentioned. He did not like the "triumphalism" of L. Paul Bremer and the Administration after Saddam was captured and other key events, noting they missed the ball to let Iraqi's make key announcements as the liberation looked more like a U.S. occupation. One awkward meeting between himself and President Bush, Bush asks him whether he wants Zarqawi captured or killed. McChrystal thought he'd be more valuable alive, whereas Bush indicated he just wanted him dead. He details the "surge" in 2006 and the Sunni Awakening that made success possible. He writes that the surge was about shifting from fighting Sunnis to fighting Shia, which is not perhaps what most Americans think of but explains some of the difficulty we have in supporting Shia-led militias against ISIL today. The last quarter of the book focuses on his brief time as ISAF commander in Afghanistan, which has a markedly different tone than the rest. In Afghanistan, McChrystal got to know the people and the culture more than he did in Iraq. He clearly still has affinity for the place and his wife serves on the board of a charity there. I was surprised how much deference he showed to Hamid Karzai, whom he considered a trusted ally. He is constantly giving him the benefit of the doubt. Every other book (Gates, Clinton, Panetta, Broadwell/Petraeus) and article I've read on Afghanistan savage Karzai in retrospect as a corrupt, untrustworthy partner who undermined the coalition. McChrystal paints him as a man constantly under threat of assassination, trying to build a coalition of unfriendly parties while constantly being undermined by the West's seeming indifference to mounting civilian casualties in drone strikes and night raids. He also cautions others against listening to what Karzai says to the media (which alarmed many Senators) and instead what he does. Karzai invites McChrystal to various shuras and this meant a lot to the General. In Washington, the General accompanies Karzai to a hospital where he sees an emotional Karzai talking to soldiers horribly wounded on behalf of his country. He was aware of criticism that he was too close to Karzai: "I questioned whether I was too respectful of him and his position, whether I'd gone native. Shouldn't I take a harder line? But in the hall-of-mirrors politics of Kabul, I looked to his actions, not his words...Karzai wanted night raids to stop, and yet we'd quadrupled the number of...raids...(Although) I knew he was deeply skeptical of our logic for brining more foreign forces to his country, he'd agreed to support my recommendation to add forty thousand..." (loc. 7969). McChrystal's main concern is reducing civilian casualties, reforming prisons, fostering a broader commitment from U.S. forces to nation-building, and borrowing "clear and hold" tactics from both the British in the 1800s and the Soviets in the late 1980s. He was the 12th ISAF commander and did not feel a great deal of optimism-- he felt he had six months to execute a strategy, but thought the Taliban could be marginalized such that the democratic Afghanistan could function across a large area. He developed the idea of "Afghan Hands," units of volunteers (they were later not volunteers) specially trained in Afghan languages and culture that would rotate into Afghanistan, back stateside, then return to the same region they had previously operated in order to maintain continuity and show the locals they were committed to keeping their promises. While this seems like a great idea, it's untenable given that Obama had a stated draw-down date preference and the Army was not committed to the program-- a frustration for McChrystal. During this time, he sensed the "deficit of trust" between the Obama Administration and the military and said it was unintentional but harmful. Like the Broadwell account, the Administration seems overly paranoid and sensitive. Interestingly, McChrystal relied on books like Daniel Ellsberg's account of the Pentagon papers for guidance in thinking about power and ethics. Unlike Iraq, there was no civilian administrator who could coordinate all the efforts between USAID, the military, the U.N., and others. McChrystal asked Karzai permission to execute orders given to him by POTUS, which is amazing and was appreciated by the Afghan President. The police needed to be built, and this was harder than building an army. Corruption and tribal links were hard to overcome. McChrystal never addresses the economic factor-- the war on the opium trade that many Afghan farmers (and the Taliban) rely on. His wife and family now needed extra security in the U.S. Towards the end of his time, he meets with an American platoon that has just lost one of its own, the soldiers are asking questions like "Why are we here, sir? What's the point?" He writes: "I couldn't solve the platoon's problems that day...I lacked the eloquence to assuage their concerns and could only epxlain the strategy they were a part of. I tried to show them I understood, and cared." Just as things get rolling along, McChrystal is blindsided by the Rolling Stone article which seemingly came out of nowhere. The reporter had embedded with them for months and he and others thought he had witnessed the moments of remarkable cooperation of international troops and Afghan locals and that the story would be positive. Again, later investigations could turn up no eyewitnesses corroborating key statements and events in the article, but the damage was done. McChrystal simply took the blame, flew back to Washington, and resigned in a 20 minute "conversation" with the President. He got to keep his pension and enjoy a military send-off, and was later asked by Michelle Obama to work on a project for military families, showing no hard feelings. His wife seemed please that they were out of the Army and could still "be happy." "Life would go on," writes McChrystal (loc. 8117). The book closes with an Epilogue of McChrystal's observations and thoughts on leadership, which probably is a preview of his new book Team of Teams on leadership and team-building. Here are the highlights of the epilogue (loc. 8144-8210). "Leadership is difficult to measure and often difficult even to adequately describe." "(Leadership is not command. Some of the greatest leaders commanded nothing but respect." "Leaders are empathetic. The best leaders I've seen have an uncanny ability to understand, empahtise, and communicate with those they lead." "Leaders are not necessarily popular." "The best leaders are genuine...Simple honesty matters." "Physical appearance, poise, and outward self-confidence can be confused with leadership--for a time." "Leaders walk a fine line between self-confidence and humility....I learned that it was better to admit ignorance or fear than to display false knowledge or bravado." "People are born; leaders are made....whatever leadership I later possessed, I learned from others." "Leaders are people, and people constantly change...well into my career I was still figuring out what kind of leader I wanted to be...bouncing between competing models...As I got older, the swings between leadership styles were less pronounced and frequent as I learned the value of consistency." "Leaders make mistakes, and they are often costly." "There are few secrets to leadership. It is mostly just hard work. More than anything else it requires self-discipline." "In the end, leadership is a choice...A leader decides to accept responsibility for others in a way that assumes stewardship of their hopes, their dreams, and sometimes their very lives."

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nazrul Buang

    2.5 stars. It's a book I got from a local book drive. It caught my attention because I own another book by the same author. Stanley McChrystal is a retired general of the United States Army, a highly decorated former commander with vast military experience both at the front line and at command, and upon retirement he went into writing books to share his personal experiences as a soldier. 'My Share of the Task' shares his accounts on being a member of the army, from his humble origins of enlisting 2.5 stars. It's a book I got from a local book drive. It caught my attention because I own another book by the same author. Stanley McChrystal is a retired general of the United States Army, a highly decorated former commander with vast military experience both at the front line and at command, and upon retirement he went into writing books to share his personal experiences as a soldier. 'My Share of the Task' shares his accounts on being a member of the army, from his humble origins of enlisting as an officer cadet until this final days battling against foreign threats and rebuilding a foreign nation. A few years ago, I read McChrystal's other book 'Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World'. As a former general with a lot of experience leading teams into the battlefield, I have an immense amount of respect for him. He's an invaluable source for learning about leadership and dealing with the unknown in foreign territories, especially as someone who has dealt with many life-and-death situations with his teams. Plus, personally I have more respect for him as a leader than business gurus and self-help gurus in general (no pun intended): he has proven his worth, and lives to tell his tale after all. 'My Share of the Task' precedes 'Team of Teams', and this one details his personal experiences in the front line, climbing up the ranks from a cadet to a four-star general. That's an astounding feat, one he has earned with blood, sweat and tears (quite literally). He explores the mistakes he has doneーsome earnest while others a result of tomfooleryーas well as his superiors' willingness giving him a chance, recognizing his latent abilities as a leader over his infractions. Gradually he goes into detail about his missions, taking him to the far reaches of South America and the Middle East, in a time when the US Army was undergoing significant changes. This book is a memoir of Stanley McChrystal. An autobiography. A life story. It's evident enough, just by looking at the title. But it's also partly a book on the modern history of the US Army. McChrystal entered the US military in a time when it was undergoing major transformation, a time when the US was involved in the infamous Vietnam war, the botched Iran hostage crisis, the Persian Gulf War, the skirmishes of Somalia, and eventually the War of Terror. During this time the military learned painful lessons, drawing widespread condemnation on the handling of these events, and gradually they changed internally to become the force we know today. McChrystal was part of this major transition, explaining his firsthand accounts what happened inside the military (so in a way, this is also a book on organizational change and management... related to his other book, I guess). I like how 'My Share of the Task' is both a memoir and a history book. But at the same time, I have mixed feelings. It's more interesting as a history book than as a memoir, since his life story is well... not the most fascinating. Perhaps it's because McChrystal is not really a storyteller (as a former military commander, I don't expect him to be one); his writing is and lacks elegance that would make his book more readable. Sometimes it's too detailedーI imagine that readers without military background can't visualize his day-to-day tasks, be it in the Iranian desert or at some military installmentーsometimes it's too dry. His writing style is exhaustive, and hence it feels like I'm reading a report of his life rather than a personal diary. I went into 'My Share of the Task' thinking that it would be an intimate look into McChrystal's thoughts and feelings as a former soldier. Instead, I got after action reviews of the numerous missions he's participated and led, with particular focus on his tasks with counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. Perhaps these missions *are* an intimate part of his life, and for that I got what I was looking for. If I were looking for a book to complement 'Black Flags' by Joby Warrick, then I would look no further (in fact, both books touch on a number of events related to Al-Qaeda, drawing parallels in content with each other). Maybe my expectations were different from what I originally thought. Most—if not allーmilitary books are detailed and objective, which is entirely opposite from traditional memoirs. I realized that I've been searching for a book that allows me to know what's it like to lead in the military, concentrating more on the storyteller than on his missions. I thought McChrystal was going to be that storyteller... I guess I'm wrong. No disrespect to him at all; I have tremendous respect for what he has done for his country. It's just not what I had hoped for in a memoir.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Raf

    This was a long read about General McChrystal’s life and career. I checked it out of my library several times so that I could finish it. First off, I would like to say that I greatly admire, respect, and appreciate General McChrystal’s service to our country. It is evident in this memoir that he had made some serious sacrifices while serving both abroad and at home. With that being said, I was also quite disappointed. I felt that the tone of the book was very scripted and shallow. Even during th This was a long read about General McChrystal’s life and career. I checked it out of my library several times so that I could finish it. First off, I would like to say that I greatly admire, respect, and appreciate General McChrystal’s service to our country. It is evident in this memoir that he had made some serious sacrifices while serving both abroad and at home. With that being said, I was also quite disappointed. I felt that the tone of the book was very scripted and shallow. Even during the difficult parts of the memoir, he seemed very dispirited about the loss of life whether it involved the death of fellow soldiers or innocent members caught in the crossfire when terrorists and insurgents were killed. Maybe it comes with the territory, I can somewhat understand that as I am no naive fool, I have served as well. But at the end of the day, it is not just about the professional decisions that count but also acknowledging the human cost associated with those decisions. Not acknowledging innocent bystanders who died when Abu Musab Al Zarqawi was killed, especially when they were young women, regardless if they were family or not, is callous. I don’t feel sympathy for Zarqawi, but definitely for those who were at the wrong place at the wrong time. It is easy to say that the cost of those innocent lives was worth it. But I however do not think we should reduce ourselves to that way of thinking. I believe we are and should be better than that. I understand the difficulty of the job and the fine line between disagreeing with something and still following orders. But now that the man is retired, it would really be nice to know what the hell he actually stands for. What is it that you actually believe in from the heart and soul not the professional well-groomed brain? This is just my honest and sincere review, take it or leave it. I also did read General McCrystal’s book on Leaders: Myth & Reality and thought it was exceptionally written. I highly recommend it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amarjeet Singh

    My Share of the Task is an exceptionally candid and impressive autobiographical memoir rendered by General Stanley McChrystal as he reflects on his unique career in the United States Military. McChrystal's primary motive with this memoir is to underscore the impressive qualities of the men and women who life threw at him to mold him into an effective leader much like his soldier father before him. McChrystal's humility is glaringly conspicuous from the first word. Rather than preen himself as som My Share of the Task is an exceptionally candid and impressive autobiographical memoir rendered by General Stanley McChrystal as he reflects on his unique career in the United States Military. McChrystal's primary motive with this memoir is to underscore the impressive qualities of the men and women who life threw at him to mold him into an effective leader much like his soldier father before him. McChrystal's humility is glaringly conspicuous from the first word. Rather than preen himself as some sole once-in-a-generation military leader (which he is), he bestows all credit upon his multiple mentors who guided him to success. The true value of this book is two-pronged. For historians, McChrystal's lucid recollection of the more critical moments of Iraqi and Afghanistani theatres of battle post-9/11 backed up by substantive evidence makes this a memoir of considerable worth. An element augmented by the fact that McChrystal only adopts an opinionated stance on events in which he had a direct role but otherwise foregoes directly opinionated comments on the bigger picture. The second valuable bedrock of this book is rooted on the fact that it provides valuable insight into the art of leadership from a true blue military perspective. We hear much of military leadership being valuable in the non-military world but McChrystal provides efficient advise as to how this can be done. Overall, this book is easy to comprehend. Its beauty lies in the simplicity of its analysis. What's more, it is an established fact that the Obama administration made an immense gaffe by prematurely forcing McChrystal into resignation over a fallacious magazine article. Yet McChrystal betrays no reservations on this part and rather treats it like a natural event and offers no comment on the matter. This is not a sign of guilt but rather a symbol of true soldiery in which the soldier serves for the security of his nation and not for its politicians' whims.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Andrej

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Difficult to actually tell from this book what was unique about McChrystal that prompted such rapid advancement in the ranks. Generalship, and running an army, seems much more like a logistics problem than anything else. Most of the day-to-day, and even the revolutionary changes, seem to be straight out of an HBS case study (doing video calls to build repoire with colleagues, revising how intelligence is gathered and analyzed to make better decisions, optimizing based on resource constraints) St Difficult to actually tell from this book what was unique about McChrystal that prompted such rapid advancement in the ranks. Generalship, and running an army, seems much more like a logistics problem than anything else. Most of the day-to-day, and even the revolutionary changes, seem to be straight out of an HBS case study (doing video calls to build repoire with colleagues, revising how intelligence is gathered and analyzed to make better decisions, optimizing based on resource constraints) Struck by the "do-it-yourself" attitude: insurgency in Afghanistan? Guess we better read more about counter-insurgency tactics! Or bring in a prof who studied it. Underscored the lack of true "experts". There are no adults! Everything was made up as it happened! On the flip side, shows that media is completely unfair when they bring up obvious complaints (don't civilian casualties make the civilian population hate you, and thus make the conflict worse?) -- the people in charge are generally trying hard and have systems in place to prevent groupthink -- thus the latter must be a more powerful phenomenon than most people realize. Other thoughts: -strange that he learned about Obama's policy preferences from public speeches -the most physically fit people are waaaaaay more physically fit than normal people realize -things like ranger school/green berets are just the cost of entry (like getting into a top school), once you're there, nobody cares -hard problems are hard! there are exceptional people working on them (like Physics PhD SEALs) so be a bit more epistemically humble before thinking you can save the world because you read a sub stack piece -preparing for war in peacetime is such an interesting phenomenon. How do people get promoted? How do you optimize training vs resource costs? How do you actually prepare for war?

  24. 4 out of 5

    Dr. Phoenix

    I had the honor of working together with Stan at the National Security Conference in Washington D.C. in 2014 as this title was being released. The man has a sharp intellect and keen biography it. He inspires loyalty in anyone who serves with him through his qualities of leadership. Although the book is an autobiography it is laced with a sense of humility. No task was too difficult, and no challenge was too great to deter this American hero from his mission. Had he been kept in his leadership ro I had the honor of working together with Stan at the National Security Conference in Washington D.C. in 2014 as this title was being released. The man has a sharp intellect and keen biography it. He inspires loyalty in anyone who serves with him through his qualities of leadership. Although the book is an autobiography it is laced with a sense of humility. No task was too difficult, and no challenge was too great to deter this American hero from his mission. Had he been kept in his leadership role in Afghanistan, the world might be a better place than it is today. The book is an entertaining history of the man and his career from start to finish and it is both an entertaining and enjoyable read. There are quite a number of grammatical errors that should addressed in any future editions. Also, the story has a tendency to bounce about chronologically and that can make it difficult at times to follow the storyline. Some of the segments that I found most enlightening were: > The media, p. 131, 326, 314 > The predator p. 137 > Target Discrimination and Proportionality, p. 142 > The real reality on reporting of civilian casualties, p. 143 > Operations and Intelligence (OI), p.163 > Find, fix, finish, evaluate and analyze (F3EA), p. 153, 177 > Human Shielding, p. 184 >Interrogation, p. 209 > Operator Fatigue, p. 224 > Shi'a proxies, p. 251 > Freeing terrorists and reconciliation, p. 259 > The"Safavids," 260 > Effects-based operations (EBOs), p. 310 > Political blowback, p. 313 > Clear, hold, build, sustain (the ink blot approach), p. 321 > The way we think and operate, p. 330 > Strategic Implications of EBO ops, p. 342 > The media as a strategic tool, p. 367

  25. 4 out of 5

    Reko Ukko

    McChrystal is well-read and his comparisons to battles and wars of old hold a great counterpoint to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars of 21st century. He illustrates the challenge of both countries very vividly and doesn't pull punches in setting out what the problems are, the chances of fixing them and what his strategy is. Another part of the book (albeit a small one) is about leadership and although interesting, the real meat of the book is half-way in when we get to Afghanistan and deal with the McChrystal is well-read and his comparisons to battles and wars of old hold a great counterpoint to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars of 21st century. He illustrates the challenge of both countries very vividly and doesn't pull punches in setting out what the problems are, the chances of fixing them and what his strategy is. Another part of the book (albeit a small one) is about leadership and although interesting, the real meat of the book is half-way in when we get to Afghanistan and deal with the counterinsurgency. McChrystal rightly points out the fact that the conflict is in fact about two dozen separate wars all over the country which are mixed along with economic, geographic, historic, religious and personal quarrels amidst chieftains and villages - simply finding a leader of any given region is subjective. Still, the book carries an incredibly sad underline in the fact that back in the 50s, Afghanistan used to be like any other regular, functioning country. The coups in the 70s and the fall to under Taliban rule happened a long time ago and it's incredibly sad that the people who remember the good times are elderly people and everyone else has lived right under Taliban rule and/or the Al-Qaeda/Operation Enduring Freedom conflicts and simply don't have a measure for how good things could get. Add to the pot the dozen different commanders, the constant push and pull of troops due to US policy and it's easy to see how anyone could get disillusioned about that mirage of "things will be better". As far as Hastings' book goes, it barely gets a mention. Given the context, "The Operators" seems like it misses the whole point of McChrystal's time in Afghanistan.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Murphy

    My Share of the Task: A Memoir by Stanley McChrystal is a very humanizing picture that shares a number of powerful lessons on leadership, but ultimately straddles the line between honest frankness and self-aggrandizement that is all too common a feature of high profile public figures. There's a lot here that is good to learn, and there are a number of anecdotes that are vital to the process of understanding leadership and the intricacies of the situation in Afghanistan when he served there. That My Share of the Task: A Memoir by Stanley McChrystal is a very humanizing picture that shares a number of powerful lessons on leadership, but ultimately straddles the line between honest frankness and self-aggrandizement that is all too common a feature of high profile public figures. There's a lot here that is good to learn, and there are a number of anecdotes that are vital to the process of understanding leadership and the intricacies of the situation in Afghanistan when he served there. That he stresses the personal power of a leader, and the limitations there placed upon a leader, should not come as a surprise for those that know about him. There were a few anecdotes that surprised me, one in particular about having bloody hands in war to which he recalls that Graeme - a colleague - stated that "we're drenched in the damn stuff." I needed to rewind for a moment, and then again. Its something I was not expecting, and there are a lot of frank moments here. The book overall works, it just fits an archetype that makes it difficult for me to feel like I've gotten to know McChrystal rather than his outward persona. It also rather abruptly ends, and his service concludes with a rushed section as if putting any stress on it was unimportant - which it certainly wasn't. As a complete aside, I enjoyed his frequent references to David Barno, who is a teacher of mine, and audiobooks, which I'm completely addicted to. 88/100

  27. 5 out of 5

    Steve Kohn

    Will be especially interesting if you served in Iraq or Afghanistan, or had loved ones who did. It's not written from the perspective of soldiers on the ground. For that I recommend "The Outpost," by Jake Tapper. But if we want to see how decisions were made at the highest levels, this book will help. I have doubts on our staying in Afghanistan after we killed bin Laden. By that time we'd been there for ten years, and could have said "Mission accomplished." But we did stay, and the results were be Will be especially interesting if you served in Iraq or Afghanistan, or had loved ones who did. It's not written from the perspective of soldiers on the ground. For that I recommend "The Outpost," by Jake Tapper. But if we want to see how decisions were made at the highest levels, this book will help. I have doubts on our staying in Afghanistan after we killed bin Laden. By that time we'd been there for ten years, and could have said "Mission accomplished." But we did stay, and the results were better (or "not as bad") because Gen McChrystal and others like him were at the rudder. Late in the book, when things are not going well in Afghanistan, he gets an email from a squad leader (SSG sends email to 4-star general...stop and think about that for a minute) telling the general he doesn't really know how things are going on the ground. So the 4-star general flies out to the sergeant's area and accompanies him on patrol the next day. Not the first time he'd gone on missions with his troops, either. Gen McChrystal was relieved of command for an article in a magazine that celebrates rap and hip hop by a commander in chief whose highest experience in leadership was as a community organizer. Only in America.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Travis Lindeman

    Good, but like all longtime military leaders goes perhaps too in-depth with a thorough recounting of the details and thought processes which mandated decisions. That is good and important detail but it doesn't always make for the most exciting read. Certainly Gen. McChrystal has had an interesting life and brought a great deal of intellect to the recent war on terrorism. He was great at working with local leaders and gaining their buy-in in order to maintain civil institutions. It's something th Good, but like all longtime military leaders goes perhaps too in-depth with a thorough recounting of the details and thought processes which mandated decisions. That is good and important detail but it doesn't always make for the most exciting read. Certainly Gen. McChrystal has had an interesting life and brought a great deal of intellect to the recent war on terrorism. He was great at working with local leaders and gaining their buy-in in order to maintain civil institutions. It's something that we often forget in light of the tactical victories that we need to continue to fortify long term solutions by ensuring stability and public trust. These ideas are profound and should be taught. Gen. McChrystal understands and communicates this point well. Regarding leadership, which is always a facet of any military member's memoir, is all about humility and patience. Being effective requires the right team and the ability to recognize effort. It's simple but it's hard to do.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jouni Kaplas

    Even though I'm more interested in the business management literature than pure war stories, after reading "Team of Teams", I felt that book was a little bit shallow. Somehow it felt how the learnings described in the book lacked a bit of context and background information. Thus I decided to continue with reading My Share of the Task, written earlier on by the very same Gen. Stan McChrystal. Even though both books share some stories in common, I felt this one really clarified how McChrystal actu Even though I'm more interested in the business management literature than pure war stories, after reading "Team of Teams", I felt that book was a little bit shallow. Somehow it felt how the learnings described in the book lacked a bit of context and background information. Thus I decided to continue with reading My Share of the Task, written earlier on by the very same Gen. Stan McChrystal. Even though both books share some stories in common, I felt this one really clarified how McChrystal actually came to the conclusions which he later described in more detail in Team of Teams. In the end, I would say that I enjoyed as well as learned more from this memoir than from Team of Teams. I would highly recommend reading both of these books to get a fuller picture of McChrystal's thinking, learnings and lessons.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Yoshua

    A detailed and fairly self-critical account from a general's poV about a particular aspect of the War on Terror esp in the 2003-2010 period. Insightful, detailed and technical, it was fairly fact based, interspersed with reflections on effectiveness and leadership. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it and thinking through the issues he had to grapple with- including the harrowing anti-climax of his career, which saw his fall from grace with such tragedy, also for the people of Afghanistan. Sparse on th A detailed and fairly self-critical account from a general's poV about a particular aspect of the War on Terror esp in the 2003-2010 period. Insightful, detailed and technical, it was fairly fact based, interspersed with reflections on effectiveness and leadership. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it and thinking through the issues he had to grapple with- including the harrowing anti-climax of his career, which saw his fall from grace with such tragedy, also for the people of Afghanistan. Sparse on theaters he was not involved in, so can seem abit spotty in terms of a general overview of US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. But that was not the goal. Although seeming like an apology towards his critics, the details were still very helpful to understand how the whole UAV method was introduced.

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