No far better Friend, No Worse Enemy: The Life of general James Mattis. Jim Proser. Brand-new York, NY: Harper Collins, 2018.

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With previous Defense Secretary James Mattis promoting a new memoir, and also raising questions around his service, it’s one opportune time to look in ~ Jim Proser’s fast-paced account of the fabled Marine’s career, teasingly-titled No far better Friend, No Worse Enemy. The author, a journalist that wrote I’m staying with my Boys, an admiring portrait the a maritime hero, sets out at the beginning of the Trump administration to i found it the “qualities that character… an individual magnetism” that accounted because that the acclaim climate greeting the Mattis appointment, culminating in his confirmation by the Senate in a poll of 98 come 1.<1> Despite obvious admiration, the author only partially succeeds. Examples that screen martial virtues abound, yet readers in search of insights into the personality or inner life the Jim Mattis will struggle not just with making political connections to current events, but also with what could come following in his windy life. Mattis’ new memoir, Call sign Chaos: learning to Lead, will undoubtedly address some of these questions.

Taking his location from a speak attributed to the roman general and politician Lucius Cornelius Sulla (138-78 BC) the “no friend ever served me, and no enemy ever wronged me, who I have actually not repaid in full,” Proser concludes the lesson Mattis drew early ~ above was that we only wanted to fight our enemies, and others would certainly find, “No much better Friend, No Worse Enemy”, than a U.S. Marine.<2> the was the motto he provided to the first Marine division before he led it into combat in operation Iraqi Freedom.

Relying on released accounts by colleagues, subordinates, friends, and journalists, the writer concentrates on the public career the Mattis. The reader is deep into Mideast warfare before any personal details space revealed. Very early love affair through “a girl named Alice” is summary described, where the selection came down to the career or the girl, and also a permanent relationship with a photographer surfaces close to the finish of the story, but these personal details shed tiny light on the man and leave the reader wanting more.<3>

Fixating on the day-to-day life that a line marine officer, the author skips over concerns that emerged in later on assignments of better responsibility, particularly Mattis’ tenure at U.S. Joint forces Command, transformation at NATO, or in ~ U.S. Main Command. The last assignment is particularly important, especially versus the background of proceeding tensions in the Persian Gulf. Ousted from central Command in 2013 for clashing through the Obama administration over accommodation with Iran, Mattis as Secretary of Defense later resisted the strategy of straight economic, political, and military confrontation. Discussion might have provided context for understanding the development of U.S. Policy, and also the growth of Mattis’ perspective as he transitioned native military business to high politics office. In general, the rigid recounts occasions without a object thread, often out of sequence, and if there was any type of criticism the its subject, or his decisions, the is not easily apparent. The is also true that Mattis is recognized for his an individual discipline, a tight mask the command, and also the closeness with which that keeps his own counsel.

For those who have adhered to the story of this rightly celebrated soldier of the republic, there is much to appreciate. Proser weaves his action-packed story against the campaigns and battles of our time, in one hour by hour, occasionally jumbled succession of planning, combat, stabilization, and also occupation. The regime rhythm of field and staff assignments the a marine officer unfolds: increasing through the ranks together a rifle platoon and company commander, leading Task pressure Ripper’s assault battalions in Desert Storm, as a brigadier leading Task force 58 right into Afghanistan, and capping his combat record command the the 1st Marine department in Iraq, finishing in the fight of Fallujah. In this passages, Proser is at his finest putting you inside a choking hot and also dust-filled armored vehicle in the desert or board an amphibious landing delivery in the Arabian Sea sweating out an invasion right into a hostile land the Alexander the good failed come conquer.

…in his suffer of war all the matters is excellence, eccentricities are tolerated when the bearer helps success battles.

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Some fascinating details about Mattis’ operating style stand out, favor sponsorship the a brilliant, however socially awkward corporal through an encyclopedic storage of the Iraqi order of Battle. Other talented non-commissioned policemans occupy positions typically held through officers. Mattis enjoy it other an individual quirks, and, because in his suffer of war all the matters is excellence, eccentricities space tolerated once the bearer helps success battles. The price is close and personal. In one especially chilling moment, Mattis attends a tense meeting v tribal leaders, his uniform spanned with the blood the his men just killed and also wounded in one IED ambush top top the method to the gathering. By the finish of his tour, much more than fifty percent of his divisional run Platoon space casualties. His deputy commander, and later White home Chief that Staff, man Kelly, loses his child in combat.