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Download The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army Audiobook, by Greg Jaffe Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (223 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Greg Jaffe, David Cloud Narrator: Richard McGonagle Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2009 ISBN: 9781415966228
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They were four exceptional soldiers, a new generation asked to save an army that had been hollowed out after Vietnam. They survived the military's brutal winnowing to reach its top echelon. They became the Army's most influential generals in the crucible of Iraq.

Collectively, their lives tell the story of the Army over the last four decades and illuminate the path it must travel to protect the nation over the next century. Theirs is a story of successes and failures, of ambitions achieved and thwarted, of the responsibilities and perils of command. The careers of this elite quartet show how the most powerful military force in the world entered a major war unprepared, and how the Army, drawing on a reservoir of talent that few thought it possessed, saved itself from crushing defeat against a ruthless, low-tech foe. In The Fourth Star, you'll follow:

•Gen. John Abizaid, one of the Army's most brilliant minds. Fluent in Arabic, he forged an unconventional path in the military to make himself an expert on the Middle East, but this unique background made him skeptical of the war he found himself leading.

•Gen. George Casey Jr., the son of the highest-ranking general to be killed in the Vietnam War. Casey had grown up in the Army and won praise for his common touch and skill as a soldier. He was determined not to repeat the mistakes of Vietnam but would take much of the blame as Iraq collapsed around him.

•Gen. Peter Chiarelli, an emotional, take-charge leader who, more than any other senior officer, felt the sting of the Army's failures in Iraq. He drove his soldiers, the chain of command, and the U.S. government to rethink the occupation plans–yet rarely achieved the results he sought.

•Gen. David Petraeus, a driven soldier-scholar. Determined to reach the Army's summit almost since the day he entered West Point, he sometimes alienated peers with his ambition and competitiveness. When he finally got his chance in Iraq, he–more than anyone–changed the Army's conception of what was possible.

Masterfully written and richly reported, The Fourth Star ranges far beyond today's battlefields, evoking the Army's tumultuous history since Vietnam through these four captivating lives and ultimately revealing a fascinating irony: In an institution that prizes obedience, the most effective warriors are often those who dare to question the prevailing orthodoxy and in doing so redefine the American way of war.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Cloud and Jaffe are gifted writers, who use their access to these senior commanders to good effect. They provide a lively, personalized account of the successes and setbacks of the four highly able and ambitious servicemen as they climb the military career ladder.
  • Cloud and Jaffe have produced a worthwhile and fascinating account packed with many insights about officership, promotion and command in the army and civil-military relations. The Washington Post Book World
  • A sparkling account of today's U.S. Army–a work of art that offers novelistic details but also carries the impact of well-reported fact. I learned something on nearly every page, and much of it astonished me. This is the best book I've read on the military in a long time. Thomas E. Ricks, New York Times bestselling author of Fiasco and The Gamble
  • Important and illuminating . . . sheds light on the epic struggle now being waged within the U.S. military over whether to heed the hard lessons of the past eight years or bury them in the same forgetfulness that marked our post-Vietnam years. Linda Robinson, New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me How This Ends and Masters of Chaos
  • Compelling . . . Cloud and Jaffe provide us with an insider' s view of the war, drawn from remarkable access to the men who designed the battlefield strategy. . . . The Fourth Star is an eye-opening portrait of today's Army and the four men who have done more than any of their generation to shape it. Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of the National Book Award finalist Imperial Life in the Emerald City
  • If you care about winning tomorrow's wars, then read this book. . . . Jaffe and Cloud draw intimate portraits of four members of the Army's high priesthood, and the implication is clear: The future of the Army is up for grabs. Nathaniel Fick, author of the New York Times bestseller One Bullet Away
  • A fascinating, intimate look at the men who are leading our wars and trying to change America's largest institution, the U.S. Army. A must-read for students of history, leadership, and engrossing prose. Dana Priest, Pulitzer Prize—winning author of The Mission
  • This book will provoke envy, if not plain awe. The fact is, the Army gets it: The best do rise to the top, and the chosen few are not all the same. Too bad Wall Street didn't follow the four in this book. Bing West, author of No True Glory and The Strongest Tribe

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dan Ragsdale | 2/17/2014

    " An excellent and a relatively unbiased depiction of the our Army's leaders. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Fanugee | 2/17/2014

    " Currently listening to audio book version. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Keith | 2/9/2014

    " A well written review of the lives of four of America's top generals during the Iraq conflict. Goes into some discussion of the conflicts within the Army concerning the development of an insurgency fighting force versus an Army prepared for a massive military land battle. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kaylea | 2/8/2014

    " Very nicely done! Readable, fascinating, and seemingly thoughtful and fact-based account of very recent history. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steve Lavoie | 2/5/2014

    " A provocative account of the careers of four of the most influential leaders in the post-Vietnam Army. Detailing the Army's progress in developing intellectual officers who can think beyond the 'shut up and color' mentality historically demanded of our soldiers, the book provides a telling story and foreshadows the direction of US military action in the coming decades. A paralleling combination of multiple biographies and event-driven accounts, this is easily one of the greatest tomes in my leadership library. So fitting, that I completed this book on Memorial Day. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gary | 1/31/2014

    " This is really a great book that looks the the careers of four of the premier U.S. Army general officers at the top levels of leadership over the past decade or so. In many ways, their experiences encompass the main themes and events of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Readers learn about the lives and careers of John Abizaid, Peter Chiarelli, George Casey, Jr., and David Petraeus, all of whom ascended to four-star rank. On Petraeus, I also recently read Paula Broadwell's biography of him, and after having read this one, I think it is the more objective rendering of the man. I think that Broadwell may have been too close or too beholden to him for the access she was getting to include some of the more critical things that Cloud and Jaffe do in this book. Of course, as that this book was published in 2009, if you want to read about Petraeus's command in Afghanistan, you won't find it here, and Broadwell's book is a good place to read about that. I also liked that Abizaid's experience as an Olmsted Scholar in Jordan in the late 1970s was frequently referenced in terms of the effect that it had on him and his suitability for some of the senior posts and commands he later rose to. Though again, as with Petraeus, the authors do not say that everything Abizaid did was good - he came in with a few warts as well. In all, I found it be a quite balanced and interesting survey of the Army, the U.S. military, and how conditions changed from the beginning of the careers of these fine leaders in the wake of Vietnam to the first decade of the 21st century. Highly recommended. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chip | 1/23/2014

    " 3.5 stars. Good, and interesting, but lacks the depth of works such as The Looming Tower and Ghost Wars. Would have been better (although admittedly also then not quite the same book) with more on the changes and development of the armed forces rather than being so focused on the four main subjects. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mattb | 1/18/2014

    " Not bad insight into our military leadership, although the end feels rushed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Casey | 1/14/2014

    " That I am giving this book four stars is no joke. It really was educational about U.S. military culture -- and written in an engaging, snappy style. Strongly recommended for people interested in how Vietnam, the Reagan era, and the Bush wars have affected our armed services. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kbrew | 12/13/2013

    " A look at four Generals and their part in developing an effective counter insurgency strategy. Topical. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paul | 12/9/2013

    " audio interesting look into 4 generals at the center of the Afgan/Iraq wars & their thoughts. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rick Smudin | 11/4/2013

    " Interesting book, but it leaves huge gaps in the bios of the four officers. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Doug | 8/8/2013

    " This book ought to be required reading for every Army officer, congressman and political leader. Perhaps there is some hope that they could learn enough from it to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past. Unfortunately, history forces me to believe that that's not the case. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Amar Pai | 8/2/2013

    " A lot of "hooah," but there's nothing especially revealing in here. Petraeus comes off as a tool. I guess "Absolutely American" made me think all these kinda books would be interesting, but really "Absolutely American" is way better than the usual. This book is the usual. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dan | 4/3/2013

    " excellent book... highly recommend it... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nick Carlton | 12/3/2012

    " Interesting read, good to see these high ranking officers as Jr. FG and senior CPTs. Recommend it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Reachhigh | 8/11/2012

    " The unique structure if this history in very engaging. I very much enjoyed tracking each of these generals through their careers. The perspective on the war in Iraq this provided was very interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Devon Aguirre | 5/12/2012

    " this was a good analysis of the army's reluctance to adapt a well thought out counterinsurgency strategy in the wake of vietnam. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dave | 2/16/2012

    " Remarkable men all. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Larry | 9/3/2011

    " these guys are all pretty accomplished academically. Very impressive. Lots of energy "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jb | 8/30/2011

    " Army brass spots potential four star generals and nurtures them through higher university degrees and a teaching stint at West Point. Then on to Iraq. Four generals endeavor to deal with unconventional military struggles there, each with his own "take." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Devon | 12/24/2010

    " this was a good analysis of the army's reluctance to adapt a well thought out counterinsurgency strategy in the wake of vietnam. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jb | 7/14/2010

    " Army brass spots potential four star generals and nurtures them through higher university degrees and a teaching stint at West Point. Then on to Iraq. Four generals endeavor to deal with unconventional military struggles there, each with his own "take." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Casey | 2/22/2010

    " That I am giving this book four stars is no joke. It really was educational about U.S. military culture -- and written in an engaging, snappy style. Strongly recommended for people interested in how Vietnam, the Reagan era, and the Bush wars have affected our armed services. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dan | 2/2/2010

    " An excellent and a relatively unbiased depiction of the our Army's leaders. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kariejbh | 1/21/2010

    " this book is fantastic giving one an inside view of some very amazing four star General's, an inside look at the Vietnam war, how these General's helped change the Army and interesting information on West Point. Well worth the read so far. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kbrew | 1/11/2010

    " A look at four Generals and their part in developing an effective counter insurgency strategy. Topical. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Fanugee | 12/28/2009

    " Currently listening to audio book version. "

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About the Author
Greg Jaffee is the Pentagon correspondent at the Washington Post and previously held the same position at the Wall Street Journal.
About the Narrator

Richard McGonagle is an experienced film, television, and voice-over actor. He has appeared in such films as Rules of Engagement and such television shows as The Practice and JAG.