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Soldier
Cover of Soldier
Soldier
The Life of Colin Powell
Borrow Borrow
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.
From the Compact Disc edition.
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.
From the Compact Disc edition.
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    from Chapter 19


    When Adolfo Aguilar Zinser walked into the Security Council on Wednesday morning, the first things he noticed were the video screens and computers that had been installed for Powell's multimedia presentation. It was a sure sign, Mexico's U.N. ambassador thought with some disdain, that "this show wasn't for us. It was for an international audience, for the U.S. media."

    Outside, New York City police officers directed limousine convoys through the high iron gates and onto the circular U.N. driveway, where they deposited arriving foreign ministers and dignitaries. Television satellite trucks were lined up wheel to wheel along First Avenue, and reporters stood shivering in the icy February wind as they shouted into handheld microphones.

    The speech was being broadcast live around the world, but a long line of spectators, hoping to watch history being made firsthand, snaked through a white security tent. Every seat in the visitors' gallery was filled when Powell entered the chamber just before 10:30 a.m., smiling and stopping to shake hands as he made his way across the floor. By the time he took his chair at the horseshoe-shaped Council table at the center of the room, with Tenet seated behind his right shoulder and Negroponte behind his left, his features were composed in a mask of gravity.

    With war hanging in the balance and the power and prestige of the United States on full display, it was a moment of high drama that owed as much to the player as to the play. A nationwide poll released just that morning had found that "when it comes to U.S. policy toward Iraq," Americans trusted Powell more than Bush by a margin of 63 to 24 percent. His reputation as the "reluctant warrior" and as the administration's leading dove—arguably its only one—would lend incalculable credibility to the case he was about to make.

    "I cannot tell you everything that we know," he began after a brief introduction. "But what I can share with you, when combined with what all of us have learned over the years, is deeply troubling." The facts and Iraq's behavior "demonstrate that Saddam Hussein and his regime have made no effort—no effort—to disarm as required by the international community." He moved quickly into his first demonstration, an audiotape of two Iraqi officers he said were discussing the concealment of a "modified vehicle" on November 26, 2002, the day before inspections began. As the scratchy Arabic words echoed through the chamber, an English translation appeared on the video screen.

    "My colleagues," Powell said, "every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."

    For an hour and fifteen minutes, he condemned what he called Saddam Hussein's efforts to conceal and to lie about his weapons programs. He played more tapes, showed satellite photographs and displayed artists' renderings of the mobile biological weapons labs he said had been described in detail by eyewitnesses. He showed a picture of an aluminum tube he said had been intercepted in an Iraq-bound shipment and of the wooden crate it had been packed in. He held up a small vial of white powder—fake poison that had been carried to New York in Boucher's pocket. "Less than a teaspoon of dry anthrax . . . about this amount . . . shut down the United States Senate in the fall of 2001" when it arrived in an anonymous envelope, he said. Although there had been little suggestion of Iraqi involvement at the time, Powell implied a connection, saying that Iraq had never accounted for 25,000 liters of anthrax that U.N....
About the Author-
  • Karen DeYoung has worked at the Washington Post since 1975. She has held a number of positions, including her current slot as associate editor. She also has served as assistant managing editor for national news, national editor, London bureau chief, foreign editor, and Latin America bureau chief. She has won a number of awards, including the 2003 Edward Weintal Award for Diplomatic Reporting, Sigma Delta Chi awards for investigative reporting and foreign reporting, and a Pulitzer Prize she shared with several Washington Post colleagues for national coverage of the war on terrorism. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and their two children.
    Coleen Marlo has worked as a professional actor in film, television, and theater. She taught acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute for ten years and is a member of the Actors Studio. Marlo is also an accomplished voice artist, whom Publishers Weekly named Audiobook Narrator of the Year for 2010. She won the Audio Award for Literary Fiction in 2011 and is an Earphones Award winner.
Reviews-
  • AudioFile Magazine Narrator Coleen Marlo's soft, almost serene, voice may seem incongruous and appeared to this reviewer to possibly be an attempt to echo author DeYoung's voice. Marlo's delivery has a certain detachment in reading the many events in Powell's life. DeYoung goes to great lengths to establish Powell as being "non-ideological" and "pragmatic." Indeed, one hears this so much as to conclude that "pragmatism" is Powell's ideological framework. Much of the work focuses on the events of the past six years. Marlo rarely renders a unique voice for dialogue; one that stands out is an attempt at a Jamaican accent. Her attempts at military acronyms sometimes fall short but do not detract from an overall solid performance. M.T.F. (c) AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine
  • AudioFile Magazine No one epitomizes the American dream more than Colin Powell, the son of immigrants who rose to the highest levels of government through his own talent and hard work. Yet as a black man in America, Powell did not escape the sting of racism. But the overarching theme of this biography of Powell is learning from experience--especially his tours of duty in Vietnam and his early tenure as a White House staff member. Roscoe Orman is solid as the reader. His tone is even, without being reverential or bombastic. His reading is easy to listen to and makes the material flow. The abridgment is choppy in the early portions. For example, the author discusses a blind date Powell went on, and in what seems the same paragraph, Powell heads to Vietnam for the first time. It's smoother for the later years, especially during his time as Secretary of State. Orman gives a good presentation of DeYoung's biography. R.C.G. (c) AudioFile 2007, Portland, Maine
  • David Walton, Dallas Morning News "Judicious, thorough, unstinting . . . Karen DeYoung's fine new biography, with its privileged glimpses into policy battles and high-level backbiting in the Bush administration, is sure to be one of this year's top newsmaking books."
  • Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times "It becomes clear that Powell--who harbored serious doubts about the wisdom of invasion and who frequently found himself an outsider in an administration dominated by neo-conservative hawks--was prescient about a host of issues, from the difficulties of rebuilding a postwar Iraq to the need for higher troop levels and multilateral support."
  • George Packer, Washington Post Book World "DeYoung . . . imbues this story with narrative tension and a steady accumulation of detail that shows exactly how [Powell] allowed himself to be used, mastered and then cast aside by his antagonists in the administration . . . A fascinating study in bureaucratic maneuvering, groupthink and subtle self-deception."
  • Esquire "The most explosive book of the fall. An early look reveals . . . new information about the White House's preparation for war, internecine conflicts within the war Cabinet, and--most surprising--Powell's account of his unceremonious exit from the administration."
  • Gary Kamiya, Salon "DeYoung brings nuance and psychological depth to her analysis."
  • Kirkus "The story of a good soldier sacrificed . . . An excellent study in leadership--and lack thereof."
  • Joseph Lelyveld, New York Review of Books "Diligent, sympathetic, but not uncritical . . . It doesn't pull punches."
  • Tim Rutten, The Los Angeles Times "DeYoung comes into her own . . . discussing Powell's brief flirtation with presidential politics and the bureaucratic infighting that has characterized this Bush administration from the start . . . Sheds further light on a story whose broad outlines are well-known."
  • The Atlantic Monthly "A consistently interesting recollection of [Powell's] varied career, shot through with heavy doses of duty, honor, and rectitude."
  • Publishers Weekly "DeYoung covers Powell's entire career in this nuanced, comprehensively researched first complete biography . . . DeYoung presents her subject as above all a soldier."
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