#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A clear-eyed account of learning how to lead in a chaotic world, by General Jim Mattis—the former Secretary of Defense and one of the most formidable strategic thinkers of our time—and Bing West, a former assistant secretary of defense and combat Marine.
“A four-star general’s five-star memoir.”—The Wall Street Journal
Call Sign Chaos is the account of Jim Mattis’s storied career, from wide-ranging leadership roles in three wars to ultimately commanding a quarter of a million troops across the Middle East. Along the way, Mattis recounts his foundational experiences as a leader, extracting the lessons he has learned about the nature of warfighting and peacemaking, the importance of allies, and the strategic dilemmas—and short-sighted thinking—now facing our nation. He makes it clear why America must return to a strategic footing so as not to continue winning battles but fighting inconclusive wars.
Mattis divides his book into three parts: Direct Leadership, Executive Leadership, and Strategic Leadership. In the first part, Mattis recalls his early experiences leading Marines into battle, when he knew his troops as well as his own brothers. In the second part, he explores what it means to command thousands of troops and how to adapt your leadership style to ensure your intent is understood by your most junior troops so that they can own their mission. In the third part, Mattis describes the challenges and techniques of leadership at the strategic level, where military leaders reconcile war’s grim realities with political leaders’ human aspirations, where complexity reigns and the consequences of imprudence are severe, even catastrophic.
Call Sign Chaos is a memoir of a life of warfighting and lifelong learning, following along as Mattis rises from Marine recruit to four-star general. It is a journey about learning to lead and a story about how he, through constant study and action, developed a unique leadership philosophy, one relevant to us all.
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 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.
It is so refreshing to read a book that is about leadership, and commitment to the constitution and democracy rather than politics. Thoughtful and disciplined thinking, with a focus on leadership supporting both military members and service to others rather than self. Teaches by setting an example through his career. Hard to put down.
A lot of hot air!
War heroes, or any person having served deserve the utmost respect from the citizens of the U.S., but this book reflects a makeover of the facts of the last several years. We have a current sitting president unlike any other, now we need heroes of the truth to prevail. Expected more honesty and the TRUTH.
Fantastic book on leadership showing that good leaders make mistakes, own them, and then move forward with lessons learned from those previous mistakes. Plus, it’s General Mattis.