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Call Sign Chaos

Learning to Lead
Written by: Jim Mattis, Bing West
Narrated by: Danny Campbell
Length: 12 hrs and 1 min
4.7 out of 5 stars (42 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Number one New York Times best seller

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.

“A four-star general’s five-star memoir.” (The Wall Street Journal)

Call Sign Chaos is the account of Jim Mattis’ 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 audiobook 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 a life of war-fighting and lifelong learning, following along as Mattis rises from Marine recruit to four-star general. It is a journey about learning to lead and a story about how he, through constant study and action, developed a unique leadership philosophy, one relevant to us all.

©2019 Jim Mattis and Bing West (P)2019 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“Combining simplicity and thoughtfulness, Jim Mattis has produced a classic account of a lifetime of service. Call Sign Chaos is a lesson in leadership and an evocation of humanity in the cause of peace.” (Henry Kissinger)

“In this magnificent memoir, Jim Mattis details many important events in his career, but he also does much more: He explains how he is informed by his experiences in a way that teaches you how to learn from your own. Read, enjoy, and learn.” (George Shultz)

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What listeners say about Call Sign Chaos

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one of the best books on the site

I'd highly recommend this book to everybody, the lessons that can be learned and brought over I to everyday life are incredible, both as a leader and individual

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great book

I loved it very informative. Well written and well narrated. I have already recommend this book to multiple friends.

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Overrated

I used to admire Mattis before he sold out to private equity and Leftist ideology. Appreciate his service to the country, but it’s high time he rode off into the sunset. Spend your money elsewhere.

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Great book

What a legend. I just hope that more like him exist. Only wish it was him that read the book

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  • Fountain of Chris
  • 2019-09-06

A pleasant surprise

This book surpassed my expectations. Unlike so many books by people who have recently left the Trump White House, this is not a politicized expose. It is both a memoir and a book about leadership. Mattis devotes little space to his personal life, instead spending large chunks of the book on Desert Storm, Afghanistan, and the second Iraq War, all done as an exploration of leadership (what he did right, what he needed to improve, and what he recommends for others). Very little of the book is about Mattis' time as Secretary of Defense. He does make it clear that he resigned due to a difference of opinion with the administration, but he focuses more on a general climate of tribalism in America as his principle cause for worry going forward. All told, I came away with a great respect for both his skill as a soldier and his thirst for improvement through learning. He and Bing West put together a solid book, accessible to advanced high school students and up, all while largely staying above the political fray.

65 people found this helpful

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  • Jonathan Levi Leach
  • 2019-09-11

Must Listen 👍🏼

As a vet and a Marine, I ate up every ounce of this audiobook. Mattis is a legend to us USMC grunts, and his decentralized leadership style is exemplary. I aspire to continue to grow in personal competencies, education, and leadership skills, and through his stories Mattis outlines good ways to do just those things. I'm thankful that he decided to release a book, better yet an audiobook, that we can digest & take notes on. The narrator/voice is respectable; it wasn't too great a stretch of the imagination to liken his voice to Mattis'. I did, however, keep it at ~1.30 speed, as it was pretty slow otherwise. 10/10, glad it includes Mattis' list of books to read in the appendices.

31 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-09-05

great listen, increase speed to 1.05

Memorable account of a truly dedicated American. Speeding up the narration to 1.05 was perfect.

31 people found this helpful

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  • Jeffrey
  • 2019-09-06

This book needs to be on Gen.Mattis’s Reading list

This book is a must read for every soldier, sailor, airmen and marine on active duty. General Mattis lays out his thoughts on leadership which has been honed by 40 years of service to our country. Furthermore, General Mattis’s consul has been honed by reading hundreds of books on war, politics, anthropology and world history. To quote General Mattis “if you haven’t read hundreds of books as an adult, you are functionally illiterate.” This book is an example of what it means to lead men and women at war and do it with the least amount of loss of life on our side and inflicting maximum pain on the enemy. Very Respectfully, CPT Jeffrey Burke, USA

23 people found this helpful

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  • North Texas Girl
  • 2019-09-03

Narration is horrible

I absolutely love Jim Mattis and Bing West but I only got as far as the prologue and stopped listening. The reader's voice is not suitable for audio books, it's not engaging at all. I certainly can't do 12 hours of this. Contrast this with the readers for other books like Sea Stories and Greg Hurwitz's books and this is a giant snooze fest. Fortunately I have a hard copy from a book signing.

50 people found this helpful

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  • James B. Shore
  • 2019-10-26

Great book but the reader is terrible

As a USMC Veteran I’m a huge fan of Gen Mattis and his leadership style. These lessons can be used in all situations, even outside of the service. HOWEVER, the reader that was selected does not do justice to this book. Only by speeding up the playing speed makes his whiny and monotone voice bearable. I love Audibles but I would recommend buying the book than the “torture” of listening to this reader. Semper Fi Gunny

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2019-09-04

Great content, but I can’t finish it.

I was so looking forward to listening to this book, I’m a big James Mattis fan. However, the reader sounds like he’s on his death bed and is about to keel over to the point where I can’t even finish the first chapter. I’ll buy the book and save it for my next vacation to read. Update: Ok so I hung in there and the voice grows on you after a while and isn't so bad after all. Storyline was very good...worth the read.

33 people found this helpful

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  • Topgunz1
  • 2019-09-12

Awesome Read

Take it from a 30 year Marine Corps Enlisted Veteran, this book is a must read. This should be on any corporations "MUST READ" list for all Managers, Directors, Vice Presidents, Presidents and CEO's. Its not just about how the Marine Corps or Joint Military operations function, its about Leadership!!!! Its about trust and the hard decisions that come with positions of responsibility. Read it, Study it and learn from it!!! ONE GREAT READ!!!!

15 people found this helpful

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  • Dave Welling
  • 2019-12-06

Great Retrospective from an Icon

My cousin who was a decorated sniper with JTF2 through these battles would tell me stories of this general who appeared at the battle fronts and got himself kitted up and would say let’s go. I finally realize from his stories who chaos is. The lessons of battle and history from this strategic and leadership disciplined mind of Mattis is riveting and makes me wish I could have met such a blunt crusty warrior who truly was no better friend no worse enemy.

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  • Izac Ossiander
  • 2019-10-12

Great book, terrible narrator

Secretary Mattis provides a wonderful and pointed guide to leadership. I fully recommend this book to anyone seeking leadership examples and lessons. This book will be on the Commandant's Reading List in the near future. I plan to buy the physical book. The one downside is the speed of the narrator. He was sloooooooooooooooooooooooow. This book is the only book I've ever listened to on 1.25x speed. I don't think I would have survived listening to the narrator at normal speed. I was prepared for the speed issue because of other reviews.

4 people found this helpful