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My Share of the Task: A Memoir | [General Stanley McChrystal]

My Share of the Task: A Memoir

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.
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Publisher's Summary

"Never shall I fail my comrades.... I will shoulder more than my share of the task, whatever it may be, one hundred percent and then some."
—from the Ranger Creed

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."

©2013 Stanley A. McChrystal (P)2013 Penguin Audio

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  •  
    Jfadams Alexandria, VA United States 04-23-13
    Jfadams Alexandria, VA United States 04-23-13 Member Since 2010

    Jfadams

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Incomplete ending"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    While the entire book was excellent - the Audible version ends before the concluding chapter (the Rolling Stone Article,etc.) and the entire epilogue is missing from this unabridged version.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George MARY ESTHER, FLORIDA, United States 03-07-13
    George MARY ESTHER, FLORIDA, United States 03-07-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Impressive Pronunciation"
    Any additional comments?

    As an Afghan war veteran, stationed in RC East when missions like Barge Matal was executed, in addition to the loss of COP Keating, I greatly appreciated the reader's obvious study of the correct pronunciation of all the locations. I found that Gen McChrystal's account filled in the gaps and explained in detail all of the missing details. I have great appreciation for one of our nation's heroes. I highly recommend this book for any future leader or historian wanting an accurate account of both the Iraq and Afghan wars with the perspective that only the commander could offer.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Scott Highland Village, TX, United States 01-21-13
    Scott Highland Village, TX, United States 01-21-13 Member Since 2012
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    "A Riveting Tale of a Storied Military Career"

    In 1996, I read Norman Schwarzkopf's autobiography, It Doesn't Take a Hero, and it played a major part in my decision to attend West Point. General McChrystal's book is sure to have a similar impact on a generation of future officers.

    While my opinion may be biased as I could recall many of the experiences and locations that are discussed, this story is a true page-turner, despite knowing how it turns out. McChrystal does a good job of explaining complex military relationships and terms that make the book understandable. The narrator correctly pronounces many challenging names and adds a good deal to the already-entertaining work.

    My only negative comment would be the ending. I won't spoil, but would only say that I was hoping for more. As a true professional, General McChrystal has obviously left any juicy gossip for others to pontificate on.

    Do yourself a favor and listen to this amazing piece of American military history as told from the inside.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Soo Lee Davis Arlington, VA 06-01-13
    Soo Lee Davis Arlington, VA 06-01-13 Member Since 2013

    Soo Lee Davis

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    "The best leadership book I've read in a decade."
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes - fundamental leadership lessons; excellent description of contemporary military operating environment.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of My Share of the Task?

    Epilogue


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Hunting el-Zawahiri


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    In Service to Our Nation


    Any additional comments?

    Narrator could have been better.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle MacDowell Bozeman, Montana United States 04-11-13
    Michelle MacDowell Bozeman, Montana United States 04-11-13 Member Since 2012

    Say something about yourself!

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    "A mix of recent history and leadership lessons"
    What made the experience of listening to My Share of the Task the most enjoyable?

    Per the title of this review, the book is a mix of recent history and leadership lessons. I was surprised at how drawn into the book I became from the very beginning. It's great to get the perspective of one of our most respected Generals. Like a soldier diplomat, very carefully presents his version of every story in a way that the reader can empathize with. It's a long book, but well worth it.


    What other book might you compare My Share of the Task to and why?

    Seemed similar to the book Art of Intelligence by Henry Crumpton because of the format and topics but from slightly different perspectives.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dundas Malibu, CA, United States 02-20-13
    Dundas Malibu, CA, United States 02-20-13 Member Since 2009
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    "Works for readers interested in special ops."

    This is the work of a dedicated officer and tells what it can about special operations at work in today's conflicts, especially dealing with Al Qaeda and similar elements.

    The author narrates competently, and you get a feel for the man, a career officer starting with West Point and growing up on Army bases. He is a highly motivated officer, and that comes across in the book and his reading.

    The standout aspect for me was the role of intelligence, especially two particulars. One was gathering intelligence while conducting an op, say at four in the afternoon. The team would collect intelligence (paper, computers, thumb drives, cell phones, etc,), get info from it, then launch another raid exploiting that info, do the same there, and make another raid the same day, all exploiting new intelligence harvested at each op.

    The other standout was interrogation, the people involved, and the personal qualities that worked. McC agrees with McCain that torture is counterproductive.

    A major limitation is that there's a lot that isn't told because it's classified. McC also goes out of his way not to criticize fellow officers. That's a weakness in that it's generally agreed that in the Brenner era in Iraq we didn't do very well because of poor leadership. When McC gives us one sentence on Sanchez, he doesn't do the subject justice.

    I enjoyed this as a honest account of a career in a field I find interesting. Not all readers would, but for those of us interested in the subject, it's worthwhile.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Donald New Smyrna Beach, FL, United States 02-09-13
    Donald New Smyrna Beach, FL, United States 02-09-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Understanding Our Most Recent Wars"
    If you could sum up My Share of the Task in three words, what would they be?

    Understanding our Involument


    What other book might you compare My Share of the Task to and why?

    Unique , General Stanley McChrystal has personalized the 3 wars that we are presently involed. We see how from a young boy his destiny was to be person in charge.His desired to have open and transparent communication was his biggest asset.


    What does Kevin Collins bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The inflection of his voice and timing adds to the excitment and drama of the story


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    NO, much of what is presented must be thought about ,reflected on, so you understand the General's involement.


    Any additional comments?

    With our present administration's foreign policy, this book explains the questions of why. I don't feel this soldier was listen to by our administration . The culture, prior events,and tribes of the area, General Stanley McChrystal's account is current and honest- A rare attribute today.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Darl Manistique, MI, United States 02-08-13
    Darl Manistique, MI, United States 02-08-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Excellent Read"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This was a very good story, which restores my confidence that we have some great individuals that are still willing to serve in the military. The read was also done in a way to keep your interest all the way through. I recommend it to everyone.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kimberly VANCOUVER, WA, United States 01-23-13
    Kimberly VANCOUVER, WA, United States 01-23-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Sacrifice"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This book was amazing. I bought this book thinking I was getting a leadership lesson, what I got was so much more. A history lesson and the best example of commitment to his country. I wish this was required reading for all the members of the House and Senate. The loss of this mans leadership in our military is a crime. Shame on the politicians who are so short sighted that they can't get over themselves. My true admiration is for Annie, his wife. Her love and support kept him going for all of his tours and career. I will listen again!


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul DeVanna 06-21-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Mucho information"
    Would you try another book from General Stanley McChrystal and/or Kevin Collins?

    Not if its like this one. The General remembers every nuance.


    Was My Share of the Task worth the listening time?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    I feel like I just spent my time in Afghanistan.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Andy
    Uxbridge, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Inspirational"

    I bought this book expecting half expecting it to be full of US military exaggeration however, I was very pleasantly surprised. This is a humbling account from an inspirational leader who provides an articulate and thoughtful version of his time in Afghanistan as well as allowing us a window into his personal life.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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