Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead

Jim Mattis and Bing West. Random House, $28 (300p) ISBN 978-0-8129-9683-8
Former defense secretary Mattis surveys his four decades in the U.S. Marine Corps in this sturdy memoir and leadership guide co-written with combat veteran West (One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War). At the outset, Mattis lets readers know that he doesn’t discuss “sitting Presidents” and won’t be “tak[ing] up the hot political rhetoric of the day.” Instead, he recounts, among other highlights from his military career, watching his battalion turn the tables on an Iraqi ambush during the 1990 Gulf War; leading the 1st Marine Division into the Battle of Fallujah in 2004; and taking over for Gen. David Petraeus at U.S. Central Command in 2010. Mattis’s leadership lessons border on the banal—his early years in the Marines taught him the importance of “competence, caring, and conviction”—but his blunt assessments of U.S. foreign policy can be memorable. Of the Obama administration’s refusal to listen to his concerns about Iraqi prime minister Nour al-Maliki, Mattis writes, “It was like talking to people who lived in wooden houses but saw no need for a fire department.” Meanwhile, he lets his resignation letter serve as his only direct comment on serving in President Trump’s Cabinet. This judicious book burnishes Mattis’s legacy at the same time it belies his “Mad Dog” reputation. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 09/10/2019
Release date: 09/01/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-0-7352-8848-5
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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