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Colin Powell's Journey from 'Soldier' to Statesman

Author Karen DeYoung's profile of former Secretary of State Colin Powell begins with one of the worst moments of Powell's professional career, when he was asked to resign.

Just one week after the 2004 presidential election, with the result still in doubt in Florida, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card told Powell that President Bush wanted to "make a change" at the State Department.

Leading up to that moment, DeYoung says, Powell felt frustrated with his effectiveness in the Bush administration.

"He wasn't happy, didn't think he was being listened to," DeYoung says.

The core of DeYoung's book, Soldier: The Life of Colin Powell, consists of a series of long interviews with Powell -- some while he was still Secretary of State, and others after he resigned and left government life.

Powell is portrayed as brilliant, ambitious and morally courageous. Being forced from office after years of loyally supporting the Bush administration, DeYoung says, came as a big embarrassment.

"I think he was angry. He's a very proud person who seldom often allows himself to feel humiliated," DeYoung says.

DeYoung's book also details how the Bush administration may have used Powell's popularity and public standing to gain support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Farai Chideya
Farai Chideya is a multimedia journalist who has worked in print, television, online, and radio. Prior to joining NPR's News & Notes, Chideya hosted Your Call, a daily news and cultural call-in show on San Francisco's KALW 91.7 FM. Chideya has also been a correspondent for ABC News, anchored the prime time program Pure Oxygen on the Oxygen women's channel, and contributed commentaries to CNN, Fox, MSNBC, and BET. She got her start as a researcher and reporter at Newsweek magazine. In 1997 Newsweek named her to its "Century Club" of 100 people to watch.