Advertisement

You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Book review: ‘My Share' could share more

Feb. 14, 2013 - 04:26PM   |   Last Updated: Feb. 14, 2013 - 04:26PM  |  
  • Filed Under

Book review

"My Share of the Task, A Memoir" by retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, UPortfolio/Penguin, 452 pages, $29.95; e-book available

Stanley McChrystal reads "The Two Viet-Nams" at age 11, studies the French-Indochina war in high school and goes into the family business (his father is a captain when Stanley is born at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.), entering West Point in 1972.

He is a soldier's soldier, and the dust-jacket text says he writes "without rancor or retribution." But after a couple of chapters, you begin to think, "Tsk," about "Task" and wonder whether a little rancor might rustle up some regalement for readers.

For example:

A Rolling Stone gathers no miff

If you're looking for McChrystal's side of the article that abruptly ended the four-star's 34-year service, you won't find the needed context here.

Writer Michael Hastings' side is last year's eye-opening "The Operators." But these 452 pages (including notes and index) say only in a scant 1 pages that "a reporter was periodically interacting with our team" and, eight pages later, that McChrystal is awakened at 2 a.m. and told "the article is out and it's really bad."

The magazine attributes "a number of unacceptable comments to my command team" but the book includes none of the comments. Perhaps the omission reflects McChrystal's taking the high road, but without context you are left on the shoulder of the noble path.

"Regardless of how I judged the story ... responsibility was mine," he says, and you wonder: Responsibility for what, exactly?

Quickly he is "directed to fly back to D.C.," calls "no one for advice" and resigns. His wife tells him, "we've always been happy and we'll always be happy."

A Ranger gains experience

Articles of perceived injustice aside, "Task" crisscrosses Forts Bragg, Benning, Stewart and Lewis, plus Korea, Harvard, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Naval War College and the Pentagon, and offers a dutiful record.

McChrystal is comfortable in his Army combat uniform the uniform at his retirement ceremony and the narrative picks up its battle rhythm in Iraq and Afghanistan, particularly in the pursuit of al-Qaida's Abu Musab Zarqawi.

And the general addresses other controversies:

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's "intractability forced the military to be more flexible" in Iraq, "but ... we also experienced a painful period of uncertainty and doubt."

When Ambassador L. Paul Bremer declares, "We got him! (Saddam Hussein)," McChrystal cringes at such "triumphalism that I knew would not play well with the Iraqi people."

"The images of arrogant superiority" photographed by Abu Ghraib's U.S. guards sicken him. "I was one of the leaders who lacked experience in detainee custody and exploitation. I had studied history and understood the theory but had never done anything remotely like running a prison. My peers and subordinates were similarly positioned."

J. Ford Huffman is a Military Times book reviewer.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In OFFduty

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan
Rates

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.


This Week's Army Times

This Week's Army Times

'Too many overweight soldies'
Raters are fudging facts for senior NCOs, promotion bard says

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

Classifieds
MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.
Woman who cried rape
(3 replies)
   Last Post: TJMAC77SP
        May 3, 2014 1:32 PM
   Last Post: garhkal
        May 1, 2014 5:03 PM
Cliven Bundy
(45 replies)
   Last Post: Chief_KO
        Apr 26, 2014 9:49 AM
Handbooks

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook