General McChrystal Book: Excerpt From New Memoir 'My Share Of the Task'

On Monday, General Stanley A. McChrystal's long-awaited memoir was finally released. Spanning all the challenges, controversies, and triumphs of his 35-year career the book follows McChrystal from his days at West Point to his hand in the War on Terror. Check out the excerpt below to see what is in store in McChrystal's much talked about My Share of the Task. 

"On Monday, June 21 [2010], ... at about 10:30 P.M. I went to my room ... [in Afghanistan] and read, as usual, for about twenty minutes before drifting off to sleep. My PT clothes were arranged to work out early before the day's activities began full bore. About 2:00 A.M. [Chief of Staff Col.] Charlie Flynn woke me. 'Sir, we have a problem,' Charlie said in the darkness of my room. 'The Rolling Stone article is out, and it's really bad.' How in the world could that story have been a problem? I thought, stunned. But I replied simply, 'Thanks, Charlie. I'll be right down.' I put on my PT clothes and went quickly downstairs to where Charlie and Rear Admiral Greg Smith, our director of strategic communications, waited and handed me a printed copy. The article was the work of a reporter [Michael Hastings] writing for Rolling Stone magazine who had interacted with my command team several times over the previous few months, including during parts of our April trip to Europe.

"This story, one of a number we'd done over the year in Afghanistan, was designed to provide transparency into how my command team operated. But, beginning with the provocative title 'The Runaway General,' the article described a hard-driving general, a struggling U.S. policy, and attributed a number of unacceptable comments to my command team. I was surprised by the tone and direction of the article. I thought back to the night of Annie's and my thirty-third wedding anniversary in Paris. At the end of the evening Annie had said she was glad the reporter had been present to see what she had seen: the command team, including American, British, Afghan, and French officers, all together. Annie felt the brotherhood among the soldiers, each a veteran of multiple combat tours over the past decade, was evident and was something the reporter needed to see and understand. I had agreed with her. The printed story cast it in a very different light. For a number of minutes I felt as though I'd likely awaken from what seemed like a surreal dream, but the situation was real. Regardless of how I judged the story for fairness or accuracy, responsibility was mine. And its ultimately effect was immediately clear to me.

"After an hour or so of meeting with key staff and making several phone calls, including one to Annie, I went outside to run. When faced with something frustrating, frightening, or confusing, I've found it is often the best thing I can do. ... For thirty-four years I'd served knowing many fates were possible. But I'd never anticipated the one before me now. That evening, as the controversy swelled, I was directed to fly back to D.C. for meetings the following morning with the secretary of defense and the president. ... It was light when we landed at Andrews Air Force Base and we drove to my quarters to shower and put on dress green uniforms before going to the Pentagon to meet with Admiral [Michael] Mullen [chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] and then Secretary Gates.

"Two hours later I left the White House after a short, professional meeting with President Obama and drove to Fort McNair to tell Annie that the president had accepted by resignation. Entering our quarters, I met Annie, who had been waiting. I told her that our life in the Army was over. 'Good,' she said, clear-eyed and strong. 'We've always been happy, and we'll always be happy.' Looking into her blue eye, I knew she was right - and why." 

For more information on the book, click here

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Elena Sheppard

Elena is the Arts & Entertainment Editor at Mic. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Salon, Time Out New York, The New York Times Upfront, ABC News, and various travel publications. She is also a Princeton alum, a former Thailand resident, and a Brooklyn native.

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