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Call Sign Chaos

Learning to Lead
Narrated by: Danny Campbell
Length: 12 hrs and 1 min
4.9 out of 5 stars (50 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

Critic Reviews

“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)

What listeners say about Call Sign Chaos

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Glad to see he wrote his story

After being an admirer of Jim Mattis for many years now I was happy to find he decided to write a book and share his hard earned wisdom with the world. I'm sure you're aware of his approach to reading history and applying it the modern warfare, you won't be disappointed in the story he has to tell here.

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Fantastic insight

A great read from a leader frequently at the point of impact in world events over the past four decades. The General's approach and warrior spirit is impressive and the book effectively portrays a full life of service. His hold no punches style is refreshing in an age where speech is often stifled. Some true gems of leadership can be found in this book. In addition the material in Appendix greatly adds value. Danny Campbell does the General justice in his performance of the work. Get this book you won't be disappointed.

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Great listen and easy to follow

I am a General Mattis fan so a lot of this book i am familiar with. However this is a very good summary of Gen Mathis’s leadership journey in both military and public service.

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What an amazing man.

Such a shame that he had to resign from his post of secretary of defence, Although for understandable and respectful reasons. The West needs more generals and advisers like Jim chaos Mattis

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Diamond in the rough! A standout for me.

A detailed and thoughtful account of how one of the most influential modern leaders(well...maybe not in the White House) mastered his craft and provided steadfast leadership at every level. Principled, self-disciplined and delivered with honourable integrity and; great examples. All of this complimented by Danny Campbell's narration which, I found soothing and engaging. Off to get myself a hard copy.

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Best Military Biography I’ve Read

I loved the insight Jim shares in this well considered and well written reflection from a lifetime spent in Military Leadership.

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  • Fountain of Chris
  • 06-09-2019

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
  • 11-09-2019

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.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-09-2019

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
  • 06-09-2019

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

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  • North Texas Girl
  • 03-09-2019

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
  • 26-10-2019

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
  • 04-09-2019

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
  • 12-09-2019

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!!!!

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  • Dave Welling
  • 06-12-2019

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
  • 12-10-2019

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

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  • Anonymous User
  • 29-10-2020

Good book but nothing on trump

I really like James mattis but book is okay nothing on his opinion on donald trump yet instead his leadership.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-10-2020

the best book

excellent book! i enjoy it very much! i loves it! i learned a lot! i recommend iz to every leader!

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  • Tom
  • 19-04-2020

must read for anyone interested in leadership

incredibly insightful and well delivered book. while it's holds back from mattis' personal opinions nonetheless incredibly reflective and thought provoking

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  • Alan
  • 26-01-2020

If you're going to take Vienna, TAKE FCKING VIENNA

This audiobook is well-written and well-performed! Enjoyed every chapter! A fascinating insight into the world of Mattis and the struggles he endured throughout his military career: I particularly enjoyed Mattis' story of the role he played in USMC occupied Falluja, this was written and performed in such a way that you can share in his frustrations but have a clear understanding as to why the situation unfolded the way it did.

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  • The king David
  • 16-01-2020

Full of integrity and values, with good anecdotes.

The General explains with clarity and humility his experiences. He is good at creating strategic vision and solutions. His use of referencing other texts and leaders is very informative and insightful. He seems very human and a boss that I would want. The only criticism is that on 3 occasions he used examples of him applying his mantra - however they were ironically, country to his other principles and values. Overall, well scripted and an enjoyable journey.

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  • Sam Watts
  • 10-12-2019

Lessons of Leadership from a Hardened Scholar

I cannot recommend this enough. Mattis provides excellent lessons in leadership and decentralised command which hopeful and serving members of the military will certainly value and benefit from, as well as civilians too. A fascinating insight into the two Gulf Wars too, as well as revealing details of more recent administrations' stances on foreign policy in the region. Incidentally, the narrator sounds very much like Damien Lewis when in an American role (BoB, Billions etc).

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 20-11-2019

Good book

This is a good book and have interesting take on leadership. It is just that looks to me that is more of a autobiography than an actual book on leadership. Maybe you need to be in a military to understand the message. But non the less this is a good book

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  • Rui Ribeiro
  • 30-10-2019

Very interesting book

I found the book very interesting. The book covers James Mattis' career as a leader, his relationship with the soldiers he led and his superiors, both in the military and civilian. It addresses lessons learned in his long and historied career, not limited to but covering the two wars in the Gulf, Afghanistan and roles with the US CentCom and Nato. The book gives a pictured of a principled military professional, who tried to be an effective leader and provides insights into the strategies used to become such a leader, from which any reader can benefit. It also provides some insight into some of the more blatant strategic failures of the Obama administration in the Middle East and Afghanistan as well as indirect criticism of the Trump's administration view of NATO and the transaction view of allies and alliances of the current US administration. The book is narrated by Mattis himself. which is an additional reason for it being as interesting as it is. Highly recommended.

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  • James Gardner
  • 28-10-2019

Amazing insights into an amazing marine!

This audiobook is an extremely good example of an amazing military career. The lessons taught can be used in business as well. I love the fact that he was a massive reader as well and loved learning from other great war hero’s before him, just as we’re learning from him now. Thank you so much!

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  • Tony Mumford
  • 24-09-2019

A plethora of lessons learned

Mattis concisely lays out his key lessons, backed up by experience and a lifetime of study.