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Extended Audio Sample Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell Audiobook, by Karen DeYoung Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (213 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Karen DeYoung Narrator: Coleen Marlo Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2006 ISBN: 9781415933435
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Over the course of a lifetime of service to his country, Colin Powell became a national hero, a beacon of wise leadership and, according to polls, “the most trusted man in America.” From his humble origins as the son of Jamaican immigrants to the highest levels of government in four administrations, he helped guide the nation through some of its most heart-wrenching hours. Now, in the first full biography of one of the most admired men of our time, award-winning Washington Post journalist Karen DeYoung takes us from Powell’s Bronx childhood and meteoric rise through the military ranks to his formative roles in Washington’s corridors of power and his controversial tenure as secretary of state.


With psychological acumen and a reporter’s eye for detail, DeYoung introduces us to the racially integrated neighborhood where Powell grew up, his courtship of and marriage to Alma Johnson, and his years as a promising young Army officer. We are witness to the pivotal events that helped shaped his world view, including two tours of duty in Vietnam, where he was disillusioned by a breakdown in leadership and the lack of a clear objective, and a 1988 meeting as President Reagan’s national security adviser with Mikhail Gorbachev, who looked at him dead-on and effectively declared an end to the Cold War. We are privy to his reasoning as the architect of Operation Desert Storm and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, a position that made him a household name and an international celebrity. And we experience his agonizing deliberations in the face of a groundswell of public desire that he run for the presidency.

Yet it was his capacity as America’s chief diplomat in the administration of George W. Bush that brought Powell the most renown—and criticism. Charged with the formidable task of making the case for war with Iraq, he convinced a wary nation that it was both necessary and right, only to find his own credibility hanging in the balance as the justification for invasion began to unravel. At odds with the White House on a range of foreign policy issues, Powell’s counsel went unheeded and his reputation was tarnished.

With dramatic new information about the inner workings of an administration locked in ideological combat, DeYoung makes clearer than ever before the decision-making process that took the nation to war and addresses the still-unanswered questions about Powell’s departure from his post shortly after the 2004 election. Drawing on interviews with US and foreign sources as well as with Powell himself, and with unprecedented access to his personal and professional papers, Soldier is a revelatory portrait of an American icon: a man at once heroic and all-too-humanly fallible.

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Quotes & Awards

  • A consistently interesting recollection of [Powell’s] varied career, shot through with heavy doses of duty, honor, and rectitude. The Atlantic Monthly
  • DeYoung covers Powell’s entire career in this nuanced, comprehensively researched first complete biography . . . DeYoung presents her subject as above all a soldier. Publishers Weekly
  • Judicious, thorough, unstinting . . . Karen DeYoung’s fine new biography, with its privileged glimpses into policy battles and high-level backbiting in the Bush administration, is sure to be one of this year’s top newsmaking books. David Walton, Dallas Morning News
  • It becomes clear that Powell--who harbored serious doubts about the wisdom of invasion and who frequently found himself an outsider in an administration dominated by neo-conservative hawks--was prescient about a host of issues, from the difficulties of rebuilding a postwar Iraq to the need for higher troop levels and multilateral support. Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
  • DeYoung . . . imbues this story with narrative tension and a steady accumulation of detail that shows exactly how [Powell] allowed himself to be used, mastered and then cast aside by his antagonists in the administration . . . A fascinating study in bureaucratic maneuvering, groupthink and subtle self-deception. George Packer, Washington Post Book World
  • The most explosive book of the fall. An early look reveals . . . new information about the White House’s preparation for war, internecine conflicts within the war Cabinet, and—most surprising—Powell’s account of his unceremonious exit from the administration. Esquire
  • DeYoung brings nuance and psychological depth to her analysis. Gary Kamiya, Salon
  • The story of a good soldier sacrificed . . . An excellent study in leadership--and lack thereof. Kirkus
  • Diligent, sympathetic, but not uncritical . . . It doesn’t pull punches. Joseph Lelyveld, New York Review of Books
  • DeYoung comes into her own . . . discussing Powell’s brief flirtation with presidential politics and the bureaucratic infighting that has characterized this Bush administration from the start . . . Sheds further light on a story whose broad outlines are well-known. Tim Rutten, The Los Angeles Times

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert | 1/21/2014

    " Makes you wish that Colin Powell wasn't the fall guy for the Iraq War, at least in the eyes of most people. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Josh | 1/3/2014

    " Colin Powell is a great American, and this is a very good telling of his story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason | 12/31/2013

    " Excellent book depicting the life of Colin Powell from childhood to post-Secretary of State. I think the best parts of this book were Powell's lessons on managing people. The book also goes into detail about the weeks leading up to Powell's UN speech on Iraq and the process by which he attempted to decipher the C.I.A. intelligence. A must read for anyone interested in becoming an effective leader and those interested in why a person like Powell would put his reputation on the line over the supposed WMD in Iraq. Karen DeYoung writes in an extremely readable, entertaining, and intelligent manner. I see myself rereading this book a couple times in my life. I continue to admire the character and professionalism of Colin Powell, the guy is truly an American hero. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Torry | 12/19/2013

    " Good book. Easy read for a interesting take on General Powell's life and philosophy I would suggest another book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim | 12/11/2013

    " Great book with a true rags to riches story!!! It tells how a young black man can overcome adversity throughout his distinguished military career and ultimately become more popular that the president. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Paula | 12/3/2013

    " reminded me of forest gump...everything happened for no particular reason... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kunwar | 11/20/2013

    " A good book about an interesting character. Looks not only into why Colin Powell acted the way he did in the lead up to the Iraq war, and how his reputation has been tarnished but also traces his entire career and offers tantalizing observations for his future redemption. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Murugan | 10/29/2013

    " stupid book about a man who lied about a fake war "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jennean Barth | 8/30/2013

    " This book is just waaay too long. I found it interesting but started to get bored during the second half of the book. It became tedious. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alen | 8/26/2013

    " Inspiring book, underlying sheep mentality, nonetheless a great book. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jim Fritchman | 6/29/2013

    " I would have liked the author go into more detail. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth | 12/13/2012

    " I listened to this one on our drive to pensacola. Really interesting. I have a lot more respect for the man. I have to admit that I slept through some parts, but over all very informative. Don't know if I could get through the entire things as a read though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 7/31/2012

    " Great authorized biography of Powell that ends with his departure from politics at the end of Bush's first term. Far more moderate than the republican party would have his fans believe! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jaime | 4/8/2012

    " Enjoyed this a lot, especially Powell's early life. Good historical context while also being entertaining and easy to read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Daniel | 1/23/2012

    " I have great respect for what I consider one of the finest leaders in recent history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kevin J. | 12/22/2011

    " A book that goes beyond the life of Colin Powell and examines the context for which he has lived and worked. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andy | 11/18/2011

    " A great book. I was surprised at the relationship General Powell and President Bush had, I thought it was much closer. You can see the divide between the State department and the VP. The General takes his shots at Cheney & Rumsfeld. Anyone interested in the Iraq was would find this book interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Penny Martin | 6/30/2011

    " This book took some time read but I enjoyed learning more about Powell and the events that occurred while he was head of the State Department. You learn more about his view of the war and the role he took in the administration. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Javatis Midget | 4/20/2011

    " Great insight of a intelligent man! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jaime | 2/19/2011

    " Enjoyed this a lot, especially Powell's early life. Good historical context while also being entertaining and easy to read. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Murugan | 6/28/2010

    " stupid book about a man who lied about a fake war "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Javatis | 6/18/2010

    " Great insight of a intelligent man! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 2/23/2010

    " Great authorized biography of Powell that ends with his departure from politics at the end of Bush's first term. Far more moderate than the republican party would have his fans believe! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim | 2/4/2009

    " Great book with a true rags to riches story!!! It tells how a young black man can overcome adversity throughout his distinguished military career and ultimately become more popular that the president. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Robert | 11/14/2008

    " Makes you wish that Colin Powell wasn't the fall guy for the Iraq War, at least in the eyes of most people. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Paula | 10/24/2008

    " reminded me of forest gump...everything happened for no particular reason... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Penny | 9/21/2008

    " This book took some time read but I enjoyed learning more about Powell and the events that occurred while he was head of the State Department. You learn more about his view of the war and the role he took in the administration. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Beth | 7/9/2008

    " I listened to this one on our drive to pensacola. Really interesting. I have a lot more respect for the man. I have to admit that I slept through some parts, but over all very informative. Don't know if I could get through the entire things as a read though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Josh | 1/15/2008

    " Colin Powell is a great American, and this is a very good telling of his story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alen | 1/5/2008

    " Inspiring book, underlying sheep mentality, nonetheless a great book.


    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kunwar | 8/15/2007

    " A good book about an interesting character. Looks not only into why Colin Powell acted the way he did in the lead up to the Iraq war, and how his reputation has been tarnished but also traces his entire career and offers tantalizing observations for his future redemption. "

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About the Author

Karen DeYoung has worked at the Washington Post since 1975. She has held a number of positions, including her current slot as associate editor. She also has served as assistant managing editor for national news, national editor, London bureau chief, foreign editor, and Latin America bureau chief. She has won a number of awards, including the 2003 Edward Weintal Award for Diplomatic Reporting, Sigma Delta Chi awards for investigative reporting and foreign reporting, and a Pulitzer Prize she shared with several Washington Post colleagues for national coverage of the war on terrorism. She lives in the Washington, DC area, with her husband and two children.

About the Narrator

Coleen Marlo is an AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator who has been nominated for an Audie Award twice, winning in 2011. She has been awarded three Listen-Up Awards from Publishers Weekly and an AudioFile Audiobook of the Year Award in 2011 and was named Audiobook Narrator of the Year for 2010 by Publishers Weekly. She is a member of the prestigious Actors Studio and taught acting for ten years at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute. Marlo is a proud founding member of Deyan Institute of Voice Artistry and Technology.