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My Share of the Task: A Memoir

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,722 ratings  ·  156 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, First Edition (U.S.), 464 pages
Published January 7th 2013 by Portfolio/Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 13, 2014 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Jan 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Jan 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
Tim Rose
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Michelle Todd
Aug 17, 2017 rated it liked it
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.
Greg Holman
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Who stays in a theater for 5 years!? Regardless of what you may think of him, that is amazing!
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Pat Rauch
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Fran Johnson
Jan 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Apr 14, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Brian Piercy
Apr 07, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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 ...more
Dec 21, 2014 rated it liked it
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 ...more
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 ...more
Nazrul Buang
Jun 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it
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 ...more
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 ...more
Reko Ukko
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Dennis Murphy
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-war, memoir
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 ...more
Steve Kohn
Feb 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
Travis Lindeman
Jul 20, 2018 rated it liked it
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
Jouni Kaplas
Feb 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This title was filled with great perspective on the nuances involved in some of the most complex and difficult concepts in both the Iraq and Afghanistan theaters of operation. There are treasures of insight for Leaders written between the lines that are not hard to find or extrapolate. Futhermore, it is a great resource for helping everyone understand the strategic, political, and cultural differences between the two theaters and why the methods, mindsets, and paradigms used in Iraq did not dire ...more
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Memoirs like this are important because they allow military leaders who may not have had a lot of visibility to shed some light on their role in times of war, and give civilians like myself a window on how military policy and doctrine evolve and are shaped. Obviously, as civilians, we can’t fully know how forthcoming the author is being, or whether or not he’s telling the whole truth. My sense from reading this book is that GEN McChrystal puts a good face on everything, and obviously does not re ...more
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Canberra Book Club: My Share of the Task 1 4 Feb 02, 2014 03:07PM  

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Stanley Allen McChrystal (born August 14, 1954) is a retired United States Army General. His last assignment was as Commander, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A). He previously served as Director, Joint Staff from August 2008 to June 2009 and as Commander, Joint Special Operations Command from 2003 to 2008, where he was credited with the ...more

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