American Generalship: Character Is Everything - The Art of Command


What does it take to become a successful, high-level leader in America's armed forces, not just to wear the stars emblematic of your position at the top military pyramid, but to excel in yor service to our country?
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American Generalship: Character Is Everything - The Art of Command

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What does it take to become a successful, high-level leader in America's armed forces, not just to wear the stars emblematic of your position at the top military pyramid, but to excel in yor service to our country?
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Editorial Reviews

Analyzes successful leadership in the US military and gives insight on how leadership has won wars and preserved freedom for the West, seeking to understand how leaders obtain and develop their skills. Draws on interviews with 100 generals, including many of the high level commanding generals of WWII and virtually all post-war army and air force chiefs of staff, as well as many chairmen of the joint chiefs. The author teaches at Georgetown University. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Kristin Putchinksi
This study of the characteristics of successful leadership in the U.S. military is the culmination and summation of Puryear's thirty-five years of research. He has also produced three other works, Stars in Flight, George S. Brown, and 19 Stars, the latter being a comparative work that focuses solely on who Puryear considered the four most outstanding generals of World War II: Marshall, MacArthur, Eisenhower and Patton. Puryear's collection of hundreds of interviews with and letters from officers of high rank, in addition to his extensive research of diaries, autobiographies and biographies support his eleven chapter dissection of what comprises an effective and successful leader in the military sphere. Chapter headings include "Books: The Importance of Reading," "Aversion to 'Yes Men': Having the Character to Challenge," and "'Feel' or 'Sixth Sense' in Decision Making." Each chapter is a discussion of a particular characteristic or action that Puryear feels is vital to a general's ability to lead soldiers during wartime. He supports each assertion with evidence from military history, including anecdotes about the generals he has interviewed. He also branches out of World War II and into other American conflicts, such as the Civil War. In chapter ten, he examines the prominent generals involved in the Civil War: their reputations, their skill in leadership and their rapport and ability to work with each other. In the final chapter, "The Pattern," Puryear examines what he considers to be the most important of a leader's qualities: strength of character derived from amalgamation of all the other qualities. The "pattern" is the qualities that the generals shared and that "made them great." They include, in brief: a desire to serve, accountability, sensitivity to a "hunch" or "sixth sense," delegation and effective problem solving. Puryear's study is useful for the student of the military psyche and of U.S. military history, especially those interested in World War II generals. The book is rich with personal stories that prove these generals to be great leaders according to Puryear's litmus test. The anecdotes also humanize men that are often portrayed as god-like in popular media. Also helpful, Puryear includes notes at the end of each chapter, citing both important works by and about the generals he mentions. The notes exhibit his impressive tally of interviews that spans the last thirty-five years and includes everyone from Eisenhower to Schwarzkopf.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780891417705
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/28/2001
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 419,389
  • Product dimensions: 5.48 (w) x 8.42 (h) x 0.90 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 13, 2011

    Easy read on Complex topic!

    Very well written and easy to read book. Provides great examples of leadership from the best of the best. Although my class only required various passages and sections be read, I read it all. .

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 19, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2011

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