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Book Review - American Soldier

Here's a crushing disappointment. Tommy Franks was commander of CENTCOM during the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The book tells us surprisingly little about anything actually. We find out that he went to the same high school as First Lady Laura Bush. Vietnam has lots of pages devoted to it but contains only snippets of his experiences there. Space instead is devoted to a bender in Sydney.

Tommy comes across as a real dill. He recounts how he flunked college in detail. At one point he claims that two events with a probability of 0.5 add to one of 1.0 so we have to doubt that he's improved over the years.

When it comes to Afghanistan and Iraq, we get even less. The only interesting factoid is the order to crank up the Iraq operation came only days after 9-11. There is a little about his struggles with the Joint Chiefs but only tiny scraps of substance. There is some hints about his relationship with Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. But nothing more. The big controversies are skimmed over or omitted entirely. There is nothing to interest the historian.

Abu Ghraib is unfortunate only because it became public.

What do we get then? Well, a lot of managerial platitudes along the lines of those books about How To Succeed in Business. Along the lines of Colin Powell's Rules.

Save your dough.