Vietnam Made Him; Review of Colin Powell's My American Journey

As members of the Washington elite go, Colin Powell is an exceptionally attractive person.

Issue: Winter 1995-1996

As members of the Washington elite go, Colin Powell is an exceptionally attractive person. Apart from his great skills as a tactician and manager, and his talent as a politician, he has an outstanding zest for life that causes him to stand out. George Shultz, who worked closely with him, and who is a good judge, wrote in his account as Secretary of State, Turmoil and Triumph: "Colin Powell . . . was wonderful, savvy, smart, straightforward, and energetic. . . . As deputy [National Security Advisor], Powell had proved to be extraordinarily knowledgeable and gifted intellectually. He had a great touch with Congress."

Unhappily, he also reveals a mindset that produced poor judgments on some major events that occurred on his watch as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Given the hoopla about his presidential prospects, many readers looked for clues on the kind of president he might make, and for his positions on such current issues as affirmative action, abortion, welfare, and the like. The hot button issues aside, his book does tell us important things about the capacities and attitudes Powell would bring to high political office, if he ever seeks it.

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