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Soldiers First: Duty, Honor, Country, and Football at West Point

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  • Posted September 17, 2012

    Review of Soldiers First'

    Review of ‘Soldiers First’
    Title with biographic information:
    Soldiers First
    (Duty, Honor, Country and Football at West Point)
    By Joe Drape, 2012
    ISBN-13: 978-0-8050-9490-9
    Reviewer: Thomas W. Leo
    Font/Font size: 16 point, Arial

    What young man (now women, too) that live in proximity to New York State, or have ever seen an ARMY football game, or West Pointers on parade has not thought – perhaps fleetingly - What is it like to be a West Point Cadet?

    What is cadet life like?

    To those questions and countless others like them, there is but one answer: to find out, you have to live it; life there is so unusual it cannot be described in normal terms.

    Visualize if you will a semi-monastic life with uniforms, military discipline and an all-encompassing honor Code, one that sets West Point apart, above every other Institution of Higher Learning in the nation!

    Then there are the “Three Rules of Thumb” . . .

    “1. Does this action attempt to deceive anyone, or allow
    anyone to be deceived?

    2. Does this action gain or allow gain of a privilege or
    advantage to which I or someone else would not be
    otherwise entitled?

    3. Would I be unsatisfied by the outcome if I were on the
    receiving end of this action?”

    The current football Coach, Rich Eellerson observed, “I think there’s something that’s shifted out there”. “And I’ve been going into High Schools for thirty-five years. We have a generation of young people that want to be challenged, who want to do something with their lives, who do want to be part of something larger than themselves.” “Maybe it’s because I’m here now, but I do think these people are looking for a better way.”

    The writer, an award-winning reporter and best selling author, was granted unusual access to the Army players and coaching staff primarily in preparation for and during the 2011 football season!
    The football team at the US Military Academy is not like any other college football teams in that they are Cadets first, football players second. The only ‘formations’ they are excused from are parades – during football season – and classes – when on a ‘trip’ or when preparing for a game, however they are still responsible for the work! At West Point, the players carry the same arduous load as their fellow cadets – there are no ‘basket-weaving’ courses –shouldering an Ivy League – caliber educations as well as year-round military training. After graduation they are NOT going to the NFL, but to danger zones halfway around the world.
    These men are not just football players, they are soldiers first!

    This concept may be hard for some to follow today in an age when some of the big colleges’ football programs are but ‘farm teams’ for the NFL, but the cadet football players do respond to a ‘higher calling’.

    This is a good book, well written, with a large focus on the leadership aspects, the ‘heart’ behind, within Army – West Point – football.

    It is HIGHLY recommended!

    The reviewer, Thomas W. Leo, CPP, is a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2012

    This is an exceptionally good book.

    Soldiers First is an excellent portrayal of a football team at a school which requires its football players to exhibit good character and and complete academic requirements. It is quite refreshing to see a football program whose members whose goal is to graduate and serve their country as Army officers in wartime. This is a lot more to be admired than many programs which will fill their team rosters with semi-literates and individuals of questionable character whose only goal is to get into the NFL. The West Point football program is an outstanding example of something that is built on positive values and which exists to serve a higher purpose.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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