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Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  518 ratings  ·  58 reviews
The first full biography of Colin Powell, from his Bronx childhood to his military career to his controversial tenure as secretary of state, with a new afterword detailing his life after the Bush White House.

Over the course of a lifetime of service to his country, Colin Powell became a national hero, a beacon of wise leadership and one of the most trusted political figures
Paperback, 640 pages
Published November 6th 2007 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2006)
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Apr 16, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
I have always admired Colin Powell, but as the Iraq debacle unfolded, I had to ask, "WHY??!?" The whole thing is so un-Powell-esque. No clear reason, no attempt at diplomacy, no exit strategy, etc.

When I finished this book, I was torn between admiring him for refusing to smear a former employer and being completely flummoxed as to how someone so intelligent can be so inculcated in military culture that he put up with that nonsense as long as he did.

Bob Schmitz
Colin Powell was obviously an astounding fellow. Son of Caribbean immigrants who rises to the top of the military and political systems. He is described as a very bright, extremely self controlled charismatic leader. Reading about the workings of the White House in the 2 Iraq and 1 Afghanistan wars was interesting.

This book should be titled "The Good Soldier." At crucial turns Powell willingly participated in illegal, immoral things because he was in essence a company man. My admiration of Powel
Jun 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really admire Colin Powell. I saw him speak once at a conference and it is clear how much he loved his country. Through all of the nonsense in the Bush administration (and I am a Republican but I do not like the way Cheney and Rumsfeld controlled Bush), Powell remained a good soldier. In a lot of ways, he was used by that far right administration. I am more of a moderate, like Powell.

Bottom line is that he always did his duty. I wish he would have run for President. Maybe, just maybe, the part
Jul 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I did the audiobook version and it was interesting to hear more details of his early life and some of the happenings during his time as secretary of state.

Much of the secretary of state details I had heard about through a TV documentary called "Bush's War", which I highly recommend for those interested in the decision making and dynamics that went on during those times... it's worth the 3 hours. :)... But I found the early parts of his life equally as interesting and
Javer Hernandez
Sep 19, 2011 rated it really liked it
Portraying in words the life of one of America's most notable military personnel is a very arduous task to accomplish, yet one that the author did very well. The way the story begin with the description of humble beginnings up to the position of Secretary of State in the Bush administration, says a lot about the character and moral values of a person. All of those characteristic were well represented in the book by the author. I believe Mr Powell himself was probably satisfied with the work of M ...more
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is much here for people to admire as well as carp at, I suppose. I served at State under Powell, and found service in his Department to be very enjoyable. I recall some of the career Foreign Service types sharpening their knives almost as soon as he was sworn in. DeYoung describes an exchange recalling that Madeleine Albright had real problems, as well, with the career FS types - I guess it goes with the bureaucratic landscape.

I did learn a bit about race in this volume. Powell and his fam
James Jacob
Like many Americans, I have a deep and abiding respect for Colin Powell. He is a man that should perhaps have been President and as this book mentions, it was given consideration. It's a rare black man in America that can unite our diverse country, but Colin Powell is such a man. His military service is exemplary and honorable. My only quarrel with him (who am I to judge? I know) is pointed out several times throughout this book. He would seriously disagree with the Bush Administration on many a ...more
Kyle Kerns
Jan 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2006
This book is an exceptional book about one of the greatest political figures of our time. For me, Powell seemed to come "out of nowhere" and lead the US during the Gulf War. His name and face became commonplace during that war, but I never knew who he was. As discussion centered around his possible future political opportunities, I was always amazed with what I learned and wanted to know more. This book provides that chance. Though at times it provided almost too much detail for me, it was a gre ...more
Nov 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a surprisingly good biography of the former General, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, and Secretary of State. It comes across as an authorized biography but does not gloss over some of the more controversial aspects of Powell's life in government, such as his role in the leadup to the Iraq War on WMDs and his relative ineffectiveness at State in Bush's cabinet. Overall, he comes across to be as a reasonable and capable professional who is committed to his country. The story is also a testim ...more
May 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book depicting the life of Colin Powell from childhood to post-Secretary of State. I think the best parts of this book were Powell's lessons on managing people. The book also goes into detail about the weeks leading up to Powell's UN speech on Iraq and the process by which he attempted to decipher the C.I.A. intelligence. A must read for anyone interested in becoming an effective leader and those interested in why a person like Powell would put his reputation on the line over the suppo ...more
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best biographies of a political character that I have ever read. There are times where I lose track of who the players are and what a particular politician or officer's title means. Yet, overall I was able to follow what was going on and how it affected our nation. Powell did an excellent job of speaking at the Speaker Series. He was smooth and easy to follow with quips and humorous antidotes throughout the evening. He reminded me of that member of everyone's family who is easy to tal ...more
Lynn Diane
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good book about a very complex man. I really want to read his autobiography. In DeYoung's biography, Powell comes across as a fairly casual politician who declares himself a Republican but isn't sure why. He quite possibly could have beaten Clinton in 1992. However, when joining Clinton's cabinet as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Powell really liked Clinton! He admired his super-intelligent mind. Clinton and Powell are kind of a mutual admiration society. I'm going to wait til I can find his newl ...more
Jan 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A great book. I was surprised at the relationship General Powell and President Bush had, I thought it was much closer. You can see the divide between the State department and the VP. The General takes his shots at Cheney & Rumsfeld. Anyone interested in the Iraq was would find this book interesting.
Aug 15, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good book about an interesting character. Looks not only into why Colin Powell acted the way he did in the lead up to the Iraq war, and how his reputation has been tarnished but also traces his entire career and offers tantalizing observations for his future redemption.
Jun 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have great respect for what I consider one of the finest leaders in recent history.
Sep 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I almost gave it four stars based on my impression that it was written as a vehicle for GEN Powell to get his side of the story across, but then read the acknowledgments at the end - it is an unauthorized biography. Hence the rating.

This is an exceptional treatise on the life of one of the most popular government figures of my lifetime, but it goes beyond that to include a description of some of the inner-circle goings-on that led to the second Iraq war. As I lived through that (and had many dis
Fascinating and thorough biography on Powell. Yet another book that convinces me of Powell's consistent, practical and service oriented leadership style - his sense of loyalty is apt to rock the boat, only slightly, even when he strongly disagrees with decisions like going to war in Iraq.

This book, like others, also confirm for me once again of 43's ineptitude and how dangerous people like Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Newt Gingrich and the rest of the right wing sanctioned gang of thugs are to
Aug 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simply a great read. A true American...and a hero
Robert Henry
I was hoping for more background on Powell. Definitely went into a lot of details on the Bush administration.
Thor Toms
Started off good but really dragged in the middle and had a mediocre finish.
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fine biography of a true American hero. Well-researched and finely detailed, while still engaging the reader.
Aug 17, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this book takes a harsh look at the Bush White House, I would have to say that this book is about as unbiased as one can get. It never goes off on a "Bush is clueless" tangent, (which I personally believe), and had some quite harsh words about Albright's running of the State department.

This book was highly informative, and although it glossiness over some years of Colin's life I guess that would be inevitable over such a long career.

In the end, Colin identified himself as a Republican,
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookshelf
I finished this book a couple of days ago but needed time to digest a lot of the information and insights revealed by the author. General Colin Powell is without a doubt one of the single most impressive figures of our modern political history. While I do not share his political ideology (finding his decision to actually declare as a Republican when he was raised a Democrat somewhat odd at best) I admire his integrity, professionalism and monumental intellect. The inner workings of three Preside ...more
Mar 05, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book terribly disappointing. I thought I was reading a biography about Colin Powell, but instead it turned out to be a book focused on the failures of the American military and its administration, taking time now and then to mention Powell. The author leaves little doubt about what her political views are, taking a very negative view of republican administrations and either glossing over democratic administrations or making excuses for them. And by the time you finish the book you t ...more
Fast-moving biography of a great man, a patriot, a clear thinker, a man of honor, a man who is a piece of living history. I always respected him, but now I do so to even a greater degree. He was a voice of reason in dangerous and difficult times. The book roars through his younger days, but slows down as he begins to be involved in government. Probably close to half the book concentrates on his time as Secretary of State in the second Bush administration, where he was constantly at odds with (th ...more
John R. Black
Oct 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
my reading of Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell

I had read My American Journey and wanted to follow up with this great book. I was in ROTC and received my regular Army Commission like General Powell did - picking Infantry as my branch - I also did 2 tours in Vietnam as an Infantry advisor to the Regional Force Popular Force and was the AG in 2 Corps where John Paul Vann was the Senior Advisor. This book is a great testament to the outstanding soldier and leader General Powell - I was shocked when
Mar 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
This is an interesting book, but it did leave me with a different picture of Colin Powell than the myth suggests. My reading based on the book is:

- early life. Caribbean parents brought him up in a style non typical for a black man on his generation.
Fell into an army career from not really knowing what he wanted to do.

- Army career, as well as being very competent he joined the army at the right time for a black man.

Senior officers saw his potential and he had the right opportunities
Excellent Wa
I have always been a fan of Colin Powell and so anticpated enjoying this book a great deal. The first half of the book was excellent. It dealt with his 35 years in uniform and was exactly what I had been hoping to read.

The second half of the book was not that great. It dealt entirely with his four years in the Bush administration. This was frustrating for me to read because I have no respect for Bush and the way he ran (or didn't run) the country. Primarily this stems from the fact that I believ
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed learning more about Colin Powell. He certainly had an interesting life and an amazing career. I mostly enjoyed the look at the role he played (and didn't play) in the Bush administration after 9/11. This book was well written, interesting, and politically educational. Most books by or about politicians make me think “why in the hell would anyone want to do that?” but this book showed that Colin Powell at least seemed to have reasons that I could understand. ...more
Apr 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very, very good. I'm listening to the CD as I drive back and forth to work. This is the first time I've really understood Vietnam and what happened there, and other military interventions. He wasn't "political" but he definitely influenced politics and presidents. Did get a little long at the end but very much enjoyed this one. ...more
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