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The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army | [David Cloud, Greg Jaffe]

The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army

They were four exceptional soldiers, a new generation asked to save an army that had been hollowed out after Vietnam. They survived the military's brutal winnowing to reach its top echelon. They became the Army's most influential generals in the crucible of Iraq. Collectively, their lives tell the story of the Army over the last four decades and illuminate the path it must travel to protect the nation over the next century.
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Publisher's Summary

They were four exceptional soldiers, a new generation asked to save an army that had been hollowed out after Vietnam. They survived the military's winnowing to reach its top echelon. They became the Army's most influential generals in the crucible of Iraq.

Collectively, their lives tell the story of the Army over the last four decades and illuminate the path it must travel to protect the nation over the next century.

In The Fourth Star, you'll follow:

  • Gen. John Abizaid, one of the Army's most brilliant minds. Fluent in Arabic, he forged an unconventional path in the military to make himself an expert on the Middle East, but this unique background made him skeptical of the war he found himself leading.
  • Gen. George Casey Jr., the son of the highest-ranking general to be killed in the Vietnam War. Casey had grown up in the Army and won praise for his common touch and skill as a soldier. He was determined not to repeat the mistakes of Vietnam but would take much of the blame as Iraq collapsed around him.
  • Gen. Peter Chiarelli, an emotional, take-charge leader who, more than any other senior officer, felt the sting of the Army's failures in Iraq. He drove his soldiers, the chain of command, and the U.S. government to rethink the occupation plans - yet rarely achieved the results he sought.
  • Gen. David Petraeus, a driven soldier-scholar. Determined to reach the Army's summit almost since the day he entered West Point, he sometimes alienated peers with his ambition and competitiveness. When he finally got his chance in Iraq, he - more than anyone - changed the Army's conception of what was possible.

    The Fourth Star ranges far beyond today's battlefields, evoking the Army's tumultuous history since Vietnam through these four captivating lives and ultimately revealing a fascinating irony: In an institution that prizes obedience, the most effective warriors are often those who dare to question.

    ©2009 Greg Jaffe and David Cloud; (P)2009 Random House

  • What the Critics Say

    "A sparkling account of today's U.S. Army - a work of art that offers novelistic details but also carries the impact of well-reported fact. I learned something on nearly every page, and much of it astonished me." (Thomas E. Ricks, New York Times best-selling author of Fiasco)

    What Members Say

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    4.3 (79 )
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    •  
      Joshua Kim Etna, NH, United States 06-10-12
      Joshua Kim Etna, NH, United States 06-10-12 Member Since 2005

      mostly nonfiction listener

      HELPFUL VOTES
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      "Learning from the Military"

      I just finished an excellent book called The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army. I believe that the experience of the generals profiled in this book can teach us in academia a great deal about how the culture of large and tradition bound institutions can be transformed.

      In order to effectively fight in Iraq these generals, particularly David Patraeus, needed to reverse the deeply held traditional Army doctrine of force protection and overwhelming kinetic warfare. In its place, Petraeus was able to instill counter-insurgency tactics that emphasized protecting the population and co-opting former insurgents to create the security necessary to build institutions.

      As a learning technologist working for a private college I have very little contact with military people and institutions. I know little about the armed forces academies and colleges, beyond that they have a reputation for extreme academic rigor and are known for producing some of our highest quality postsecondary graduates.

      I have no idea how the armed forces utilize learning technology in their institutions of higher learning. I have an inkling that a great number of active duty personnel and veterans utilize online learning, but I have never worked directly with this population.

      I've come to believe that my ignorance about our military is a problem. Beyond the embarrassing fact that I don't personally know anybody who has served and sacrificed in our nation's wars over the past 6 years, and have a poor understanding of military educational institutions, I think that I am missing an opportunity to learn about cultures and how they transform themselves.

      In higher education we are engaged in a cultural shift. One that puts the learner at the center of the construction and delivery of education, a process that is catalyzed by technology. We are living through a transition from a scarcity of educational materials and knowledge to an abundance. We are working to redesign our institutions, programs and courses to meet the needs of a new set learners, as well as to open up higher education to groups that have traditionally been closed out.

      How can we make connections and build relationships with members of our military who also work in education? At EDUCAUSE I did not see any presentations by people from armed forces academies or institutions (did I miss them?). I'm not sure how to make these connections. How can we learn from the larger experience of transformation in the military to help us manage our own transformations?

      Below are 4 books that I read in the past couple years on the U.S. military. Any recommendations for other books would be appreciated.

      The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008
      Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq
      Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts: The American Military in the Air, at Sea, and on the Ground
      Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military, from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond

      1 of 1 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Mike Prague, OK, United States 10-01-12
      Mike Prague, OK, United States 10-01-12
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      "Great book about some amazing individuals"
      If you could sum up The Fourth Star in three words, what would they be?

      Awesome. Badass. Insightful.


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

      The ones on the ground, in charge, when our country calls. You may have heard the names, but now hear their stories.


      0 of 0 people found this review helpful
    •  
      thomas Daleville, AL, United States 09-16-12
      thomas Daleville, AL, United States 09-16-12 Member Since 2011

      I love reading and find audiobooks help me get more reading in each week than I ever would if I didn't use them. I also enjoy the dramatizations and voices some narrators use.

      ratings
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      "Insight into the lives of great commanders."
      Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

      I met Greg Jaffe in Afghanistan while he was writing an article for the Washington Post on my unit the 2-503 IN of the 173rd ABN. I found him authentic, insightful, and warm. I enjoyed reading about the personal lives and challenges these leaders faced as they came up through the ranks and how thier diffrent morals and convictions shaped how they saw the Army and what they did when they had the change to effect change. I am a better Army leader for having read this book.


      What did you like best about this story?

      That General Casey passed Delta Selection but opted out because of family. I respect family men.


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

      Patient Leadership


      Any additional comments?

      I have read Ambrose, Adkinson, and Weatherford. Greg and David do a fantastic job of spinning a yarn. I put this book at the top of my list of Military History books.

      0 of 0 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Jeff Phoenix, AZ, United States 09-09-12
      Jeff Phoenix, AZ, United States 09-09-12 Member Since 2011
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      "Gripping"

      An inspirational story paralleling the lives of 4 US Army Generals, and how they ultimately found success in Iraq. I didn't know what to expect with this book, but it has become one of my favorites.

      0 of 0 people found this review helpful
    •  
      Daniel Watertown, NY, United States 10-29-10
      Daniel Watertown, NY, United States 10-29-10 Listener Since 2010
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      "Learned a lot"

      This was some great in-depth reporting, mixing fact with anecdote and detail. The reading was great and it hooked me well. I wish this guy would read all the books.

      0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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