Scholar, Pope, Soldier, Spy

Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present
Max Boot, New York: Liveright, 2013. xxiv + 784 pp.

All In: The Education of General David Petraeus
Paula Broadwell with Vernon Loeb, New York: Penguin, 2012. xxiv + 394 pp.

The Fourth Star: Four Generals and Their Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States Army
David Cloud and Greg Jaffe, New York: Three Rivers Press, 2009. 330 pp.

The Art of Intelligence: Lessons from a Life in the CIA’s Clandestine Service
Henry A. Crumpton, New York: Penguin, 2012. 338 pp.

The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War
Fred Kaplan, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013. xii + 418 pp.

The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth
Mark Mazzetti, New York: Penguin, 2013. xiv + 381 pp.

My Share of the Task
General Stanley McChrystal, New York: Penguin, 2013. xiv + 452 pp.

General David Petraeus is a seductive man. He is a master at crafting his image in the media and among his peers, politicians, and subordinates. He has been celebrated as the perfect progressive, portrayed as a thoughtful and articulate scholar, and decorated with not only four stars (and rumored to have been considered for an exceedingly rare fifth) but also an Ivy League doctorate.1 Petraeus has even persuaded the usually skeptical Thomas Powers to laud his feats of warfighting in the New York Review of Books.2 When challenged in the letters pages of the Review a few weeks later, Powers defended Petraeus thus:

For COIN [the U.S. military jargon for counterinsurgency] to prevail requires time, money, and political commitment—lots of all three. Did American interests justify such a huge effort in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan? That is not a question Petraeus or any other American general was ever asked to answer. But Petraeus was asked to do his best—to try to win for as long as the president thought it made sense. In carrying out this charge Petraeus picked a strategy that offered hope, in his opinion (and in mine), and that would not kill everything that moves or wreck the countries in which we were fighting.3

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