Boy on the Bridge: The Story of John Shalikashvili's American Success

Boy on the Bridge: The Story of John Shalikashvili's American Success

by Andrew Marble


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His life and career were the embodiment of the American dream. Born in Poland, John Shalikashvili (1936—2011) descended from aristocratic European families that served with distinction in both battle and government for centuries. After barely surviving the Warsaw Uprising, he and his family fled to Germany during World War II to escape advancing Soviet troops and emigrated to the United States in 1952. Shalikashvili was drafted into the army as a private in 1958 and rose steadily through the ranks, serving in every level of unit command from platoon to division. In 1993 Shalikashvili was tapped by President Bill Clinton to replace General Colin Powell as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, becoming the first immigrant, first draftee, and first Officer Candidate School graduate to hold the position.

This first-ever biography of Shalikashvili's riches-to-rags-and-back-to-riches story reveals how his distinctive background helped him become one of the United States's greatest military leaders. He exhibited a unique and unconventional leadership style — employing expertise, humility, straightforwardness, and empathy — that he adroitly used to resolve or prevent destructive conflict. His distinctive leadership style greatly benefited the United States, Europe, and beyond: as when he led the rescue of 500,000 Kurdish refugees in the first Gulf War's aftermath; when he represented Joint Chiefs chairman Colin Powell in helping secure loose nukes in the former Soviet republics; as he joined forces with fellow immigrant Madeleine Albright on the Partnership for Peace initiative and NATO enlargement program in the 1990s; and in retirement, when he helped end the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, thereby finally allowing gay servicemembers to serve openly without fear of dishonorable discharge.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813178028
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 10/15/2019
Series: American Warriors Series
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 724,974
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Andrew Marble is a writer and editor who has worked in the fields of Chinese politics, Taiwan studies, US policy to Asia, and international food policy.

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Boy on the Bridge
Only in America
How Many Shalikashvilis Can There Be in the World?
Will It Play in Peoria?
Missy and Wartime Warsaw
Countess Julie Pappenheim
Oma and the Passing of the Old World
To Become an Officer?
Dimitri: Prisoner of War
A Strategic Yes
The Crucible of OCS
Savior of the Kurds?
Mushroom Cloud
Huddled Masses
Warning the Iraqis
A World Figure?
Briefing Congress
Getting to Yes
The Ghost of Dimitri
Retirement Day
The Final Inheritance
The Meaning of a Life

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"If you understand the life of General John Shalikashvili, you will better appreciate what is great about America. By holding up an insightful mirror to this former World War II refugee's little-known but captivating immigrant success story, biographer Andrew Marble has allowed the bright side of our country to now shine even more widely." — Former member of the US House of Representatives Lee H. Hamilton

"This is an astonishingly readable biography of one of the most remarkable leaders in American military history. If you don't know of John Shalikashvili's story, Andrew Marble's saga of an immigrant boy who, in the 1990s became the highest ranking leader at the Pentagon, will amaze and inspire." — Claudia Dreifus, Columbia University

"General John Shalikashvili was the American dream in living form. In telling his story for the first time, Andrew Marble masterfully weaves together how a man whose family fled war-torn Europe helped shape American foreign policy for decades and lived out the values of conscience and country. This isn't just a must-read for military buffs — it's a source of inspiration for every American and anyone who aspires to be one." — Former US Secretary of State John Kerry

"It was so wonderful to see the General Shali I worked for come alive in these pages! What a great American he was, and this book is a fine telling of his American story. Read it for inspiration, and remember that when we talk about immigrants, we are talking about the John Shalikashvili's of this world." — Kori Schake, Deputy Director-General, International Institute for Strategic Studies

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