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My American Journey


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One of the most prominent figures in American public life, General Colin L. Powell served as the twelfth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under both President George Bush and President Bill Clinton. He was a major architect of Desert Storm, the dramatic Allied success in the forty-three-day Gulf War, which began in January 1991.

General Powell was born in New York City in 1937 and raised in the South Bronx by his parents, who had immigrated to America from Jamaica. He came up through the New York City public school system and received a commission as an army second lieutenant upon graduation from the City College of New York in 1958. Early in his career, General Powell was stationed in Germany and in a number of posts in the United States, and served two tours in Vietnam, 1962-1963 and 1968-1969. He was also a battalion commander in Korea from 1973 to 1974 and later commanded the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and V Corps in Germany. General Powell was appointed Deputy National Security Advisor by President Ronald Reagan in January 1987 and in December 1987 became National Security Advisor, a post he held until January 1989. He served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from October 1989 until his retirement on September 30, 1993. General Powell has received numerous U.S. military awards and decorations, as well as civilian awards honoring his public service, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he was awarded twice. He has also been decorated by the governments of Argentina, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, Jamaica, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela, and received an honorary knighthood (Knight Commanders of Bath) from the Queen of England. From the Hardcover edition.


YA‘The eminently readable journey of one African American boy from a close-knit neighborhood in the South Bronx through his rise to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to civilian retirement. Powell was neither an athlete nor a scholar; his childhood centered around his home, friends, and church. Later, in college, he found his niche. ROTC offered structure and purpose. A recounting of his army career and the support offered by family and friends are the primary focus of this work. Challenges, lessons learned, and opportunities opened by each posting are shared. Commanding officers, selected business contracts, and four presidents are introduced and evaluated, almost all in a positive light. Powell's involvement with and analysis of national and international affairs, from Vietnam to the Clinton administration, are succinctly and objectively recounted. Scattered throughout the book are personal rules of conduct and occasional incidents of particular kindnesses and of racism. Teens are given an opportunity to spend some time with a thoughtful, positive leader. They can share one participant's view of recent history and gain one perspective on our country's current needs.‘Barbara Hawkins, Oakton High School, Fairfax, VA

This is the "story so far," as General Powell tells it, from the Bronx to Vietnam to the White House, from the common to the regal. His account is one of captivating extremes, tales that span from peeling potatoes with the Soviet General Staff to conversing with the Queen of England. When Powell is not working on world crises-Panama, Iraq, Haiti-he's doing normal things like normal people, courting, quitting smoking, fighting calories. As a White House Fellow, National Security Advisor, and then the "youngest officer, the first African American, and the first ROTC candidate" to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell dealt with "every issue from arms control to Bermuda tax treaties." It's all very personable: Powell's Rules for running a meeting, his political philosophy, working for a chocoholic Defense Secretary, getting caught by Pentagon security with an antique rifle. But will he run for president? No clear answer is given here. For popular biography collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/95.]-John Yurechko, Georgetown Univ., Washington, D.C.

"A great American success story . . . an endearing and well-written book."--The New York Times Book Review

"The stirring, only-in-America story of one determined man's journey from the South Bronx to directing the mightiest of military forces . . . Fascinating."--The Washington Post Book World

"Eloquent."--Los Angeles Times Book Review "Profound and moving . . . Must reading for anyone who wants to reaffirm his faith in the promise of America."--Jack Kemp, The Wall Street Journal "A book that is much like its subject--articulate, confident, impressive, but unpretentious and witty. . . . Whether you are a political junkie, a military buff, or just interested in a good story, My American Journey is a book well worth reading."--San Diego Union Tribune

"Colin Powell's candid, introspective autobiography is a joy for all with an appetite for well-written political and social commentary."--The Detroit News

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