Colin Powell: Imperfect Patriot is a fascinating biography of the late Colin Powell, which brings to light his towering achievements and errors in judgment during a lifetime devoted to public service. Until he passed away in 2021, Colin Powell was revered as one of America’s most trusted and admired leaders. This biography demonstrates that Powell’s decades-long development as an exemplary subordinate is crucial to understanding his astonishing rise from a working-class immigrant neighborhood to the highest echelons of military and political power, including his roles as the country’s first Black national security advisor, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and secretary of state.
“This work . . . covers the lofty career of Powell who eventually became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. The author highlights both the successes and failures of his subject, revealing a human being navigating the complexities of leadership and power at the highest levels. It showcases the difficulties and consequences of decision making at the strategic level.”—Military Heritage
“A captivating and balanced story of Powell’s remarkable career, and of what we can learn from both his good and bad followership. . . . The book is of special interest to readers of military history, political biography, and leadership.”—Northern Kentucky Tribune
Jeffrey J. Matthews is the George Frederick Jewett Distinguished Professor at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. He teaches American history and leadership and has written or edited three previous books, including Blacksheep Leadership and The Art of Command: Military Leadership from George Washington to Colin Powell.
- Watch The National Museum of the United States Army book talk with Jeffrey J. Matthews
- Read our feature on Colin Powell: Imperfect Patriot here.