My American Journey

Book Report on Colin Powell’s My American Journey


Retired General Colin Powell is the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He spent a career in the United States Army lasting 35 years. He retired at the rank of four star general. He started his military education and career at the City College of New York in 1954. He was the son of Luther and Arie Powell of New York, born on the 5th of April 1937. His parents were meager people and he lived in a rented apartment until the age of 4 when he moved to the South Bronx where he finished his lower education and received his high school diploma. Upon graduating high school he applied to two universities, New York University (NYU) and the City College of New York (CCNY). He was accepted to both of the colleges but due to a price difference, NYU was $750 and CCNY was $10 a Year, he enrolled in CCNY. He was commissioned out of the CCNY ROTC program 4 years later and entered the army in June of 1958. After the officer’s basic course and various other military courses he received his first duty station as a platoon leader in the 3rd Armor Division in West Germany. From here began what came to be a most illustrious military career, consisting of a command track from platoon level to the commander of FORSCOM with numerous White House positions. He retired from his last command, the Army’s highest-ranking Military Officer, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was also asked by many of his supporters to run for the office of President, which he declined.

The City College of New York ROTC
The book contained information on Colin Powell that proved more interesting as the page number increased. Some of the events of his life were more interesting than other parts. How his Army career started as a ROTC cadet and not an academy student was surprising to find out. General Powell was also able to serve two tours of Duty in the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Racism also played a significant role in the career of this acclaimed Army general. The entire book is complete with many different scenarios with many of his different leadership, but these points provided a base for his career.
At CCNY Colin Powell would get his first glimpse of the United States Army. He started his college education majoring in engineering and ended changing it to geology the second semester. He decided after an engineering class that engineering was not for him and needed to find something more suitable to his academic appetite. His parents and relatives were appalled by this decision because the job prospects for geologists weren’t such a great aspect for a young black college graduate. He had found information on ROTC and decided to give the program a chance. Here he found his place in life and decided that he would receive the Army commission and become a lieutenant upon graduation. This also satisfied the worried family members because this job promised a pension after 20 years of service.
While in ROTC he was asked to join a number of military clubs and fraternities. He accepted the invitation from the “Pershing Rifles.” At this time this was the most elite of the military groups and had the most closeness between members. The ROTC program at CCNY consisted of fourteen hundred cadets and competition for the top positions was tight. It was in ROTC where Colin Powell experienced his first run in with racism in the military. He was chosen the best cadet of Company D and then from there went up for the best cadet of the entire program. He was able to take a secure second place in this competition. It was at this time one of the cadre came to him and told him that he knew why he did not get the first position. He told him that the reason was because the rest of the cadre did not want to admit that the best cadet at CCNY was a Negro. It didn’t quite strike home upon hearing the statement, Colin had said that it shouldn’t be a race situation and why couldn’t this cadre