5 Star Potentially Epic – Could Turn US Military Into an Effective Force
Reviewed by Robert David Steele
I met the author through Col Dr. Doug Macgregor, USA (Ret), whose various books, but most recently and especially Margin of Victory, set the gold standard for strategic thinking. Just as Margin of Victory makes the point that wars are won or lost ten to twenty years before they are fought, by the good or bad decisions made in longer-term strategy, acquisition, and training (e.g. tracks versus wheels, integrated versus stove-piped), so also can this book by Maj Don Vandergriff, USA (Ret) be said to be a 20-years and out war winner (or war loser if you ignore it).
This is a six page summary review of a political-cultural-economic-social transformation that is both needed and possible, by the one person seeking the Democratic nomination for the presidency who appears authentic, inclusive, and truthful. Links to free online supporting documentation for the author’s radically humanistic and deeply spiritual proposals are included in the formal review. An additional five pages of links and one paragraph extracts are appended to give the reader easy access to a range of mass media depictions of the author that range from angelic to whacko.
This is a seven page summary review of one of the greatest books in modern political, economic, and cultural literature. The review concludes with links to other published literary commentary on the book being reviewed, and to superb videos where George Will is interviewed about his book, in this way augmenting the Kindle experience.
The Conservative Sensibility is a masterwork, a capstone work for the author, for his time, for the Republic, and for We the People who have lost our Republic.
7 Stars – Handbook for an American Renaissance – Life Transformative
Robert David Steele
This book is a masterwork, a capstone work for the author, for his time, for the Republic, and for We the People who have lost our Republic. Of the over 2,500 books I have reviewed, 10% of which have received a 6 star rating, this book is easily in the top 25 and perhaps the top 10. The last book I remember that impressed me this much was Philip Allot’s The Health of Nations: Society and Law beyond the State (Cambridge, 2002) but this book is closer to home, focused on the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the collapse of the US federal government with a Presidency run amok, a Congress in abdication, and a judiciary all too passive as the Constitution is shredded.
This glorious piece of work, clearly a handcrafted deeply researched endeavor (not a collection of past columns) that draws on all forms of erudition from poetry and theater and fiction to history, philosophy, and science, is noteworthy for integrating deep and diverse citations from the varied leading individuals in the US executive, US legislature, and US judiciary.
The top four points made by this book, in my view, are these:
Jason Redman with John R. Bruning, Foreword by Robert M. Gates
5 Stars Authentic, Humble, Healing, NOT Your “Normal” Leadership Story
This book brought tears to my eyes by page 71. This is not your “normal” leadership story. It blends three leadership stories from one personal experience: a personal failure of leadership stemming from the mix of arrogance and alcohol; a positive enabling leadership environment (not at all the norm for the Department of Defense) that helped this warrior grow; and finally, the personal triumph of being one with God, country, team, and family after being broken by wounds that would have killed most others.
Revised and with a new foreword from leading reform advocate COL (ret) Douglas MacGregor, PhD, Don Vandergriff revisits his 2002 manifesto for the evolution of the U.S. Army.
From the foreword: “Few books in the history of the U.S. Army have made a more convincing argument for change than Don Vandergriff’s Path to Victory: America’s Army and the Revolution in Human Affairs. It is therefore a great privilege to offer some thoughts on the re-release of this important work.
When Don’s book appeared for the first time in 2002 it was not simply detailed account of the Army’s personnel management system, its promotion policies and unit manning practices. It was also a critical examination of the Army as an institution and its extraordinary resistance to change in the way it identifies, develops and employs human talent.
Don Vandergriff’s experiences, research and interaction with fellow military professionals suggest that a cultural revolution within the U.S. military is essential if the nation is to successfully adapt and prevail in the emerging 4th Generation Warfare (4GW) or asymmetric warfare threat environment. An Army cultural revolution has three parts:
1. Strategic leaders must change a counterproductive array of long-established beliefs including many laws, regulations and policies, which are based on out-of-date assumptions.
2. Military leaders must drive and sustain a military cultural evolution through effective education and training of the next generation(s) of leaders in a system that is flexible enough to evolve alongside emerging changes in, and lessons from, war, society and technology.
An Industrial Age model continues to shape the way the Army approaches its recruiting, personnel management, training, and education. This outdated personnel management paradigm―designed for an earlier era―has been so intimately tied to the maintenance of Army culture that a self-perpetuating cycle has formed, diminishing the Army’s attempts to develop adaptive leaders and institutions.
This cycle can be broken only if the Army accepts rapid evolutionary change as the norm of the new era. Recruiting the right people, then having them step into an antiquated organization, means that many of them will not stay as they find their ability to contribute and develop limited by a centralized, hierarchical organization. Recruiting and retention data bear this out.
The People’s Army – the Continental Army rooted in home-spun militias – was formed and fought and won a war before the U.S. Constitution was written and signed in 1787. The Constitution – and the Republic – exist because the People’s Army, the Continental Army led by George Washington – leveraged the twin advantages of a righteous cause and home court to eject what was then the greatest imperial power on the planet. Of the 55 men attending the Constitutional Convention, at least 29 served in the Continental Army, most of them in positions of command. Understanding the relationship between the people from whom the early militias were drawn, the Army, and the Constitution, is essential to evaluating where we fall short today.