Tuesday, September 29, 2009
On McChrystal's shelf is a novel called Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer. The book, which pits a noble warrior named Sam Damon against a conniving careerist named Courtney Massengale, has a cult following in the military. "I've read it about six times," says McChrystal. He is "flattered" to be compared to the Damon character, as he often is by his admiring staff. But he adds that the book is actually complex, and that the Damon hero is a "bit too rigid," while the villain Massengale is "brilliant when he wants to be." McChrystal has an appealing earnestness and openness (he doesn't hesitate to tick off his flaws: "I'm impatient, I shoot from the hip, I ride my staff too hard…"), but one senses a certain wiliness as well. There are many ways to be a good soldier, and McChrystal wants to be them all.