Gus Lee (born 1946) is a best-selling American author and ethicist. He was born in San Francisco, a place he recounts in his childhood memoir/novel China Boy (1991). He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point but did not graduate, did graduate study in East Asian History and obtained a J.D. (law) degree from the University of California, Davis School of Law (King Hall). At Davis, Lee served as an Assistant Dean of Students for the Educational Opportunity Program and project coordinator for Asian American Studies. He returned to the Army as a lawyer, serving as a Command Judge Advocate, a U.S. Senate ethics investigator and legal adviser to the worldwide Connelly Investigation. He was a whistle blower, which involuntarily launched him into his work as an ethicist and "couragist." He later became a senior deputy district attorney, acting deputy attorney general and senior executive for legal education for the State of California. In the corporate arena, he has been an executive vice-president, chief operating officer and vice-president. He is now a chief learning officer.
Lee recounts his life in best-selling autobiographical fiction. A challenging childhood in San Francisco's Panhandle is the subject of his first best-seller China Boy (1991), which became San Francisco's first One City One Book selection. Honor and Duty (1994) describes the tension between friendship and fidelity in a tale about West Point; Tiger's Tail (1996) finds the protagonist pursuing enemy secret agents and shaman prophets on the Korean DMZ; No Physical Evidence (2000) is a legal thriller that captures his "most emotionally difficult trial," involving a vulnerable teenage victim, and recounts the simultaneous loss of their first daughter. Various efforts have been under way to convert the books into film. Lee followed with a memoir, Chasing Hepburn (2004), in which his delicate mother and three young sisters conduct a harrowing flight from wartime China to America. His most recent work is the best-selling, principles-based, 2007 Golden Quill Award-winning, Courage: The Backbone of Leadership. Endorsed by Warren Bennis and General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, it describes the measurable behaviors of integrity and courage and has been adopted by corporations, West Point's National Conference on Ethics, the Kansas City Police Department and various business schools. He has contributed to anthologies, written for Time and Encyclopædia Britannica and written op-eds. He credits Amy Tan, David Kai Tu, his wife, and his agents, Jane Dystel and Miriam Goderich, for his unanticipated writing career.
- With Schwarzkopf: Life Lessons of The Bear (Non-Fiction) (2015) ISBN 978-1588345295
- Courage: The Backbone of Leadership (Business Non-Fiction) (2006) ISBN 978-0-7879-8137-2
- Chasing Hepburn (Non-Fiction) (2004)
- No Physical Evidence (2000)
- Tiger's Tail (1996)
- Honor and Duty (1994)
- China Boy (1991)
He is Chief Learning and Education Officer for Integware, a Colorado Fast 50 firm, and a former Chair of Character Development at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and provides OPDs to Army units. An operational ethicist, leadership consultant for corporations, government and non-profits, such as Lockheed Martin, the FBI and SEC and Whitworth University. He is a thought-leader for DDI, The Praevius Group and the Kansas City Regional Police Academy and Leadership Academy. He was a drill sergeant, paratrooper, corporate whistle blower, Senior Executive for the State Bar of California and a corporate VP, EVP and chief operating officer. He has appeared on CBS This Morning and CNN and been interviewed by NPR's Terry Gross. He has received awards from the military, law enforcement, education, writing and business. He and Diane have two children, Eric and Jena. Jena Lee Nardella is the executive director of Blood:Water Mission and is married to James Nardella, executive director for the Lwala Community Alliance. Eric, an ADC, is a once-deployed Army CPT and is married to Army Nurse CPT Rebecca Lee. Their third "child," Danny Lee, for whom he and Diane were legal guardians, is an Army paratrooper stationed at Ft. Bragg who has returned from the humanitarian mission to Haiti and is currently deployed with a Marine force in Afghanistan.