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Summary

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 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 U.S. 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.

Photograph ©Timothy Greenfield-Sanders/Corbis Outine

©2006 Karen Deyoung (P)2006 Books on Tape

Critic reviews

"DeYoung paints a favorable but balanced portrait of Powell, and she avoids using him as an instrument for Bush-bashing. Powell emerges from her account as a person who grew to meet his wider responsibilities." (Publishers Weekly)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Rami
  • 16-01-13

Nice, informative, entertaining

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

yes. it is very informative. Interesting. Gives a perspective to anyone following the US policy in the world.

What about Coleen Marlo’s performance did you like?

Yes she was clear, emotional and loud.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Soldier of a nation.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Elizabeth
  • 20-05-08

Very Interesting Book

I loved this book. It wasn't too long or boring at all. Tons of great info and back stories. The narration was wonderful. I highly recommend this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kenneth
  • 16-04-07

Good but too long

This is a good book but could have been GREAT if it were not caught up in minutiae. One never wants a good book to end but the unabridged version of this book was excruciating to get through. The first part is enjoyable and informative but once the narrative gets to the point of Bush's first election, it is mired in too much detail. On the positive side, it paints an illuminating picture of Powell's experiences in government service and how his personality and background shaped his vision and actions. For those wanting the gist of the story, I suggest the abridged version, although I have not listened to it and generally loathe abridgements.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Pamela
  • 19-12-06

Soldier

This book is a wonderful lesson in history and what it takes to make a General in the military. Although I found it interesting, I was disappointed in the fact that there is no emotion to speak of. His children and family seem like they are in a back closet somewhere and not even a part of his life. His experience dealing with Bush and Rumsfield was particularly interesting to me.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Naji R. Constantine
  • 14-04-16

The problem with slinging mud....

What would have made Soldier better?

The author transferred her ideology onto that of the subject of the book. at one point I couldn't believe what I was hearing and went to check to see if this was an authorized biography, to my relief, I found that it is not.

Would you ever listen to anything by Karen DeYoung again?

Absolutely not. by slanting this book to this degree, she lost all credibility in my opinion.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

The narration was adequate and professional. If anything, it was impacted negatively by the substance of the book.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

the Narration and production qualities were fine, the ending at least gave dignity to Powel.

Any additional comments?

We all have working and personality differences with some of our co-workers. In her effort to paint Powel as excellent, she actually diminished his stature by using her book to take shots at everyone in the administration, and I mean everyone!!! To the un-informed reader, it paints every person that gave Powel an opportunity as hapless, evil, racist or all of the above. Carter was overshadowed by Powel in Haiti, Reagan was Racist, HW was Racist too, Cheney was Evil, W engaged in tokenism by having him and Condi as two of the four most powerful cabinet secretaries in the country. According to the author, the only person he liked was Clinton, and Clinton did little or nothing for Powel. I have read the books of most of the principals of that period and none were as harsh on Powel as this books seems to be on them. The impression left about Condi as "an out of her depth" national security advisor was particularly troubling. I admire Powel a great deal and agree with him politically more than most. This book does him no favors. It portrays him as petty, ungrateful, unprincipled and self-centered. It almost seemed that he could work with our enemies and adversaries just fine but not with his own team. While Racism is alive and well in this country, I believe that most Americans are ready, even hungry for African American leadership. Powel was a great example of such leadership, The Author managed to paint a huge race chip on his shoulder that I don't think is really there.I still hold Powel in high regard, but the charge that he trusted the media to his own detriment, seems to be accurate.Truly disappointing.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • William
  • 02-11-14

Balanced biography

If you could sum up Soldier in three words, what would they be?

Balanced and informative

What other book might you compare Soldier to and why?

I can think of no book that is a fair comparison to this book.

What does Coleen Marlo bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

The narration was good.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

I wouldn't base a film on this book.

Any additional comments?

It is a well written and balanced biography. I recommend it to anyone interested in knowing more about Secretary Powell.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ronald
  • 07-07-14

A great read onthe life of General Colin Powell

Finally read the book on audible.com and after a while just couldn't put the book (in my case android phone) down. The book goes into the life of Colin Powell and what he went through in every part of his life. But the book went through his 4 years as secretary of state and gives the reader a good understanding to the thinking of the secretary of state during the Bush years.

When I put together the dots I see many patterns of not only senior members in the Bush administration but of Powell himself. The title is a good one because General Powell served as a soldier and it explains the why's of what he did and what he didn't do.

His credibility was never in question to me but the book, if people listen to it, gives credibility back to those who may have felt betrayed by the actions of the General during the Bush years.

The book is a complete excerpt of his life and very well balanced and give the book the maximum number of stars overall for outstanding (excuse me superior) performance.