by GENERAL JAMES MATTIS
IF YOU DON’T READ, YOU CAN’T LEAD: A lifelong scholar, Mattis says that thanks to his reading he has “never been caught flat-footed by any situation.” Included in the appendix will be Mattis’s required reading for leading, featuring 50+ recommendations from his 1,000+ personal library.
A clear-eyed account of learning how to lead in a chaotic world, by General Jim Mattis—the former Secretary of Defense and one of the most formidable strategic thinkers of our time—and Bing West, a former assistant secretary of defense and combat Marine.
Call Sign Chaos is the account of Jim Mattis’s storied career, from wide-ranging leadership roles in three wars to ultimately commanding a quarter of a million troops across the Middle East. Along the way, Mattis recounts his foundational experiences as a leader, extracting the lessons he has learned about the nature of warfighting and peacemaking, the importance of allies, and the strategic dilemmas—and short-sighted thinking—now facing our nation. He makes it clear why America must return to a strategic footing so as not to continue winning battles but fighting inconclusive wars.
Mattis divides his book into three parts: direct leadership, executive leadership, and strategic leadership. In the first part, Mattis recalls his early experiences leading Marines into battle, when he knew his troops as well as his own brothers. In the second part, he explores what it means to command thousands of troops and how to adapt your leadership style to ensure your intent is understood by your most junior troops so that they can own their mission. In the third part, Mattis describes the challenges and techniques of leadership at the strategic level, where military leaders reconcile war’s grim realities with political leaders’ human aspirations, where complexity reigns and the consequences of imprudence are severe, even catastrophic.
Call Sign Chaos is a memoir of lifelong learning, following along as Mattis rises from Marine recruit to four-star general. It is a journey learning to lead and a story about how he, through constant study and action, developed a unique leadership philosophy—one relevant to us all.
Jim Mattis is a Marine four-star general whose battlefield innovations, leadership style, and clear strategic vision have won him the trust and affection of a generation of U.S. and Allied troops and millions of Americans. He is widely considered one of the most revered military leaders of our time. He led a battalion through minefields in Desert Storm (1991), a naval task force into Afghanistan in 2001, a division to Baghdad in 2003, and a combined Army-Marine force in Anbar Province in 2004. From 2010 to 2013, he served as commander of the U.S. Central Command, including all American forces in the Middle East. He subsequently served as Secretary of Defense. A native of the Pacific Northwest, he is currently the Davies Family Distinguished Fellow at the Hoover Institution.
Acclaimed war correspondent and bestselling author Bing West served as a Marine grunt in Vietnam and later as assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. He has been on hundreds of patrols in Iraq and Afghanistan, including many operations with General Mattis.
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