Gary's Reviews > The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army

The Fourth Star by David Cloud
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's review
Feb 19, 2012

it was amazing

This is really a great book that looks the the careers of four of the premier U.S. Army general officers at the top levels of leadership over the past decade or so. In many ways, their experiences encompass the main themes and events of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Readers learn about the lives and careers of John Abizaid, Peter Chiarelli, George Casey, Jr., and David Petraeus, all of whom ascended to four-star rank. On Petraeus, I also recently read Paula Broadwell's biography of him, and after having read this one, I think it is the more objective rendering of the man. I think that Broadwell may have been too close or too beholden to him for the access she was getting to include some of the more critical things that Cloud and Jaffe do in this book. Of course, as that this book was published in 2009, if you want to read about Petraeus's command in Afghanistan, you won't find it here, and Broadwell's book is a good place to read about that. I also liked that Abizaid's experience as an Olmsted Scholar in Jordan in the late 1970s was frequently referenced in terms of the effect that it had on him and his suitability for some of the senior posts and commands he later rose to. Though again, as with Petraeus, the authors do not say that everything Abizaid did was good - he came in with a few warts as well. In all, I found it be a quite balanced and interesting survey of the Army, the U.S. military, and how conditions changed from the beginning of the careers of these fine leaders in the wake of Vietnam to the first decade of the 21st century. Highly recommended.
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