The latest book from author Gus Lee, a character-based leadership authority, is With Schwarzkopf: Life Lessons of the Bear (Smithsonian Books, 312 pp., $27.95). Lee also has written two other bestsellers: China Boy and Courage: the Backbone of Leadership.
Gus Lee was in his junior year at West Point in 1966 when he learned he was in danger of failing. He then came under the personal tutelage of instructor Norman Schwarzkopf who, in addition to academics, mentored Lee on character, leadership, and the need to do the right thing, no matter how difficult. Even though Lee failed to graduate from West Point, his many hours spent in the company of then Maj. Schwarzkopf created a bond between the two men that lasted more than forty years.
Lee gives the reader a close-up account of life at West Point through his own experiences, both positive and negative. He reveals a little-known side of Schwarzkopf—as a wise, insightful intellectual with unwavering personal values of honesty, courage, and commitment. Affectionately known as “The Bear,” his mentoring of Gus Lee helped Lee deal with his struggles at West Point and, years later, as a legal officer in the post-Vietnam War Army.
Lee relates then Schwarzkopf’s experiences as an advisor to a Vietnamese Airborne unit. He earned Vietnamese Master Parachute wings, but in the process suffered a back injury that plagued him for years.
Lee writes that Schwarzkopf wondered back then if he could succeed with an Army career–if he could “keep his damn mouth shut with rear-area types who never got muddied or bloodied and never lost a man.” Schwarzkopf managed, despite his legendary temper, to rise to stardom as the celebrated general who led the way to victory in the first Persian Gulf War, aka Operation Desert Storm.
In 1991, the Bear declined the offer to become Army Chief of Staff. He retired after 39 years in uniform.
Gus Lee has written an inspiring story about one of America’s greatest post-World War II generals. We can all learn from the life lessons and personal values passed along from The Bear to Lee.
The author’s web site is www.guslee.net