Book Report: Rogue Warrior by Richard Marcinko with John Weisman (1992)

Book coverThis book is the autobiography of Richard Marcinko, the man who organized SEAL Team Six. It recounts his history from his days as a lowly enlisted man in the United States Navy and his rise through the ranks as he becomes an officer, a leader, and commander.

So what? you might ask. I’ve read a bunch of books about testing, I’ve read a couple of books about managing, but I’ve never really read a book that captures a career path that mimics the one in software testing.

You start out bucking the system, complaining about the Man, and fighting hard to get quality. Eventually, if you get promoted to team lead and beyond, you have to subvert that fighting instinct to recognize the new environment and to work within its limitations to further your goals and missions.

Marcinko goes from a platoon leader who goes around the leadership he doesn’t like to being a ramrod straight commander of a SEAL team. He was to play the political game a bit and know how things are done in the Navy. When he gets an opportunity, he gets to form his own team, SEAL Team Six, in his own vision–which is closer to snake-eating SEAL grunt than ship-driver (that is, a commander that comes from a different milieu). Marcinko ends up training with his men even when he’s a high-level executive.

Definitely some interesting lessons in this book, but as it is his autobiography and it’s written from the point-of-view of a long time military man, the language is pretty vulgar and the outlook a bit crude. However, Marcinko has written two books that have his picture on the cover in suits and probably don’t have quite as many f-bombs: Leadership Secrets of the Rogue Warrior and The Rogue Warrior’s Strategy for Success.

Or, if you want some more sedate reading, you could pick a book off of James Bach’s recent list, but there’s probably not as much shooting in them.

Books mentioned in this review:

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