On Ender's Game

Ender on Leadership

By Colonel Tom Ruby

I was a relative latecomer to Ender’s Game. It’s not that I didn’t know about the book. It’s not even that I hadn’t had it recommended to me. Only a bunch of times by people I trusted. I remember visiting my old Air Force Academy mentor, Colonel Jim Heald, and his family in Florida when I was attending Squadron Officer School in Alabama in 1993. Jim’s oldest son, Mike, was telling me that I really needed to read this book. I said, “Okay,” and never did. I think I finally went to Ender’s Game when I was mature enough to read the books that people I trusted recommended to me, regardless of genre or what phase of life I was in. And bully for me. All I’d done by delaying was deny myself eight years of good thinking. But it was more than good thinking I denied myself. Had I read the book earlier in my career, I could have benefitted from Ender’s experiences by applying them to my own as a rising Air Force officer, one who endured and battled through much of the head-scratchingly unbelievable bureaucratic mess that nattered Ender.

When I finally did read Ender’s Game, I was a major in the Air Force with a line number to lieutenant colonel, waiting for the day of my promotion to roll around. I was also a doctoral student at the University of Kentucky, studying political science and focusing on morality in warfare. Living in the university environment rather than  …

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