Reading List (Update): on Learning to Lead

By | October 3, 2019

[October 3, 2019]  Summer is on the wane and my family is gearing up as we look forward to the autumn season; changing of the leaves, cooler weather, and great ways to travel this great country.  Change is what the world is about, and that is one of the threads running through the book by Jim Mattis and Bing West.  Anyone who agrees that we live in an imperfect world and that the mission of all nations is to live peacefully but to protect the weak against tyranny should read this book.  I’ve read some great books over the past six years as I write my leadership blog but Mattis and West’s book is among the best.  I look forward to great reading of this sort throughout the autumn.

Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, Jim Mattis and Bing West, 2019

I preordered this book because of the respect and admiration I have for USMC General (Retired) James Mattis.  During my time in combat and at home, I heard many great things about him, his philosophy of leadership, and his leadership traits.  I couldn’t wait to jump right into the book, and I was not disappointed.  The book begins with some background of Mattis growing up, and I thought that maybe I could skip this part of the book; wrong.  Read the entire book, cover to cover and you will be pleased by the ways that Mattis and West write about learning to lead.

One short story about Mattis’ call sign “chaos.”  While stationed in the desert of the west part of the U.S., then Colonel Mattis noted the word written on the operations officer’s whiteboard.  When he asked about it, he was told that it means the “Colonel Has An Outstanding Solution.”  There never was a “Mad Dog” according to Mattis.  The book is about how to lead in a chaotic world.  It’s about how individuals should act and the importance of building your reputation, integrity, hard work, and the three Cs (competence, caring, and conviction).  For more on this, see my article a few weeks ago (link here).  Mattis is all for allies.  He believes deeply that a robust internationalism of nations with shared values is in the best interest of us all.  This is best illustrated in this quote, “nations with allies thrive, nations without allies wither.”

Overall, an outstanding book and, of course, highly recommended.

To go to the full Professional Reading list, click on this direct link:

Side Note: Please remember and take a look at Tom Copeland’s reading blog.  His website, which I highly recommend, can be found here:

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

22 thoughts on “Reading List (Update): on Learning to Lead

  1. Darwin Lippe

    I’m told by some of my friends in the US Marines Corps that this is a book worth reading. Thank you for the recommendation and I will go buy it.

    1. Lady Hawk

      Yes, I ordered my copy. I’ll let you know when I finish reading it.

  2. Yusaf from Texas

    Good book by Gen. Mattis. Read it last week and gave a copy to my friend at work.

  3. Dennis Mathes

    I preordered my book too and got it in a couple of weeks ago. Typically I read several books at a time and am doing that now, so I haven’t finished it yet. But I will note early on that I really liked it. Easy to read, great ideas, and reinforcing of actual events.

    1. Darryl Sitterly

      Me too. Looks like we’ve gotten another recommendation that will help us be better leaders but more importantly helps us be better people.

  4. Bryan Lee

    I just finished reading this book yesterday and, of course, I fully support your recommendation. The book is full of points that we can all learn from. I plan on re-reading it in a few weeks. I’m different than most people because I’m sure I missed a few things. Re-reading it will help me pick up on them and reinforce what else I learned.

    1. Willie Shrumburger

      Bryan, what did you like the best about the book?

      1. Bryan Lee

        Hi Willie. I didn’t think I would like the chapter on his childhood but it turns out that this is my favorite chapter. He called it “A carefree youth joins the disciplined Marines.” Very apt title.

    2. Jane Fillmore

      I’ll be ordering the book soon also. I just wanted to note that the Reading List section is very good.

  5. Tomas Clooney

    I always enjoy your “Reading List” each time you give us a new recommended book. Thanks, Gen. Satterfield. I would also recommend other books on Mattis.

    1. Big Al

      Yes. One of my favorites is “Diplomacy” by Henry Kissinger. Gen. Mattis is a great man who should be listened to.

  6. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    There are many who will read this book cover to cover. Why? It’s from a man who spent his youth in the US military. I’m saddened by so many who hate our military, yet, they would not be here today being who they are without the men and women in uniform. They have my greatest respect. Unlike the disdain I have for our media who continue to give our military a bad name. The US media is truly the ‘enemy of the people.’

    1. Doug Smith

      I agree with you Otto but we have beat this dead horse a lot here in Gen. Satterfield’s comment sections. The US media (and Western media in general) has done a great disservice to their readers. FAKE NEWS is the norm of the day.

    2. Ronny Fisher

      Fake news …. we used to simply call it “propaganda.”

      1. Harry Donner

        What makes this worse is that they consider themselves superior to the rest of us. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao thought they were also superior to everyone else. Hmmmmmm. How did that work out?

        1. Crazy Dude

          Good point Harry. The very danger that we must all learn to recognize is that the media is not interested in the truth but in being elevated to high moral status over all us minions. They hate the average Joe and Jane in ‘flyover’ country. No surprise that Hillary Clinton called us ‘deplorables.’

      2. apache2

        Spot on comment, Ronny. The media have themselves to blame for their loss of trust and confidence from the American people.

        1. JT Patterson

          So very true. I have spoken to a number of journalists and they do in fact believe they are better than us; smarter, braver, and morally superior. That is a highly dangerous belief system.

  7. Army Captain

    Good summary. I read a few comments on-line at the Amazon store. Just placed my order for the book.

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