The Fourth Star

The Fourth Star

Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army

Book - 2009
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A moving, inside account of military life in peace and battle, this work follows the rise of four officers who join a beaten Army after Vietnam and help rebuild its ranks, only to see their institution again facing defeat in Iraq. bw insert.
Publisher: New York : Crown Pub., 2009.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780307409065
Characteristics: p. cm.
Additional Contributors: Cloud, David


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Dec 31, 2017

The Iraq War tested four four-star generals: John Abizaid, George Casey, Jr., Peter Chiarelli, and David Petraeus. This is their story.

Each of them had a correct view of the challenges and answers. However, without being able to work together, their efforts could not support and reinforce each other. They were not in conflict against each other. Rather, their assignments – and their acceptances of those roles – left them distanced in space and time from each other. Beyond the specifics of the Second Gulf War, this is a book about leadership, leadership styles, and the natural limits to the complete fulfillment of our goals. The narratives here are richly detailed. The writing is tight and active. The authors were the Pentagon correspondents for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

LRS1969 Nov 29, 2014

General Chiarelli (who rose from the ranks as a ROTC cadet out of the University of Seattle - not a West Pointer) clearly had the best game plan for winning an insurgency - which was the classification for Iraq, not a conventional war.

In fact, I only gave it 4 1/2 stars instead of 5 as the book overrated General Petraeus. Very intelligent, yes. Oriented towards the CORRECT needs of counterinsurgency, no. And his extreme ambition in the long run overruled everything else, leading to his ultimate downfall (where is he now, hmm?).

Readers (and reviewers) should read Dan Bolger's latest book (2014) "Why We Lost"... And do some follow-up on the facts of the military's (and political elements) "golden boy" Petraeus (also that of General McChrystal would be a very good idea; see "The Operators" by Michael Hastings) - and then be very fearful of any reassurance that we are in "good hands".

Once again we lost a very long term (roughly 8 years) insurgency hybrid war - and are irretrievably in the process of losing our longest war ever (13+ years), also a hybrid counterinsurgency war, and organizationally have NO idea as to what we need to know and do in order to win those wars (and often, as in Iraq) when to stay out of them.

All those years, all those billions, all those thousands of American and Coalition casualties and scores and scores of thousands of Iraqi casualties (not even counting Afghanistan, which, although also mishandled SO incompetent, at least was a Just War).... and what do we have to show for it?

March 2015 Update:

RE: Petraeus

So many (primarily right-wing) authors and journalists have gushed over Petraeus in the past, clearly demonstrating a Petraeus idolization fixation (similar to the mythology of great generalship this sprung up relating to CSA General Robert E. Lee).

Yet Petraeus, while personally intelligent, in fact was not militarily brilliant nor particularly savvy (repeating a myth often enough does NOT make it Truth)... though he indeed was one of the Perfumed Princes who believes absolutely in the Three Ps: Power, Perks, and Privileges!

EVERYTHING that Petraeus did in his military and post military life has had one and only one agenda - to do what is right for Petraeus and his personal benefit. Entitlement is an expectation of his (which he got even in "the end"... a deal that converts multiple severe felonies demanding decades of imprisonment down to one misdemeanor that carries no jail time and allows him to maintain his oligarchic and highly wealthy post treasonous career!).

So much for his oft repeated claims of innocence. And this is the deal if the century. He should have been prosecuted for every count and once convicted, sentenced to life without parole in Leavenworth!

"Petraeus Takes Plea Deal"


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