Making the Corps

Thomas E. Ricks, Author
Thomas E. Ricks, Author Scribner Book Company $24 (320p) ISBN 978-0-684-83109-1
Reviewed on: 11/03/1997
Release date: 11/01/1997
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-684-84817-4
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4165-5974-0
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Journalist Ricks first became fascinated by the Marines in 1992, when he lived among them during an assignment to cover U.S. troops in Somalia. Noting that he himself was ill-prepared for life in that distant equatorial land, Ricks was deeply impressed by the Marines' remarkable deportment. At one point, Ricks, Pentagon correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, was safely led through a night combat zone by a 22-year-old corporal. ""In my office back in Washington,"" Ricks writes, ""we wouldn't let a twenty-two-year-old run the copying machine without adult supervision."" Intrigued by the differences between Marines and civilians, Ricks later attached himself to a single Marine training platoon and followed its members from boot camp through their first year of life in the Corps. The result is more than just a carefully drawn portrait of how this legendary service shapes men into troops. Ricks finds a powerful morality within Marine culture, and juxtaposes it against the relative chaos of civilian society as seen through the eyes of recruits like the young pacifist who nearly fails training only to blossom just before graduation. Qualities that the Marines value highly--loyalty and discipline--are shown to be the building blocks of the social structure underpinning the formidable fighting force. This is a work that puts contemporary American culture--with all its ""skaters, skins, punks, and junkies""--on trial and finds that ""discipline"" should no longer be a dirty word, even among nonleathernecks. (Nov.)
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