Bullies and Cowards: The West Point Hazing Scandal, 1898-1901

Overview

When Oscar Booze entered West Point in 1898, the older cadets decided that he did not conform to their image of what a cadet should be. After four months of constant torment, including a beating in an organized boxing match, ridicule for reading his Bible, and the forced consumption of hot sauce in the cadet mess hall, he resigned. When Oscar died a year and a half later from tuberculosis of the larynx, his family claimed that the West Point cadets had killed their son by scarring his throat and creating a ...

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Overview

When Oscar Booze entered West Point in 1898, the older cadets decided that he did not conform to their image of what a cadet should be. After four months of constant torment, including a beating in an organized boxing match, ridicule for reading his Bible, and the forced consumption of hot sauce in the cadet mess hall, he resigned. When Oscar died a year and a half later from tuberculosis of the larynx, his family claimed that the West Point cadets had killed their son by scarring his throat and creating a fertile field for the fatal infection. This is the story of the ensuing scandal that brought West Point under fire in the press nationwide.

Investigations following Oscar's death would reveal a long-standing pattern of cruelty that had become inextricably identified with the academy, related to notions of social Darwinism and initiation rituals popular at the time. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate considered closing the Academy in light of testimony by cadets in two separate investigations that revealed cruel and sadistic practices. Distilling startling accounts from trial transcripts, contemporary newspaper stories, archival records and correspondence, this book exposes a little-known chapter in the history of West Point.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Leon (history, The Citadel) tells the story of Oscar Lyle Booz, the extreme hazing he received at West Point when he entered at age 18, his subsequent leaving and death, and the government actions taken to curb the most excessive practices. He concludes that the fight he was forced into in August 1898 did not contribute to his death in December 1900, and that within the military culture of the day, he brought much of his misery on by being unathletic, unaggressive, bookish, religious, truthful, and sensitive. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

PHILIP W. LEON is Professor of American Literature at The Citadel.

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Table of Contents

Beast Barracks

The Ordeal

The Scandal

The Secrets Revealed

The Hazing Law

The Mutiny

Conclusion

Glossary

Index

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2004

    INTERESTING AND HISTORICALLY SOUND

    I had Dr. Leon for American Realism, English 343, and we had to read his book in class. I loved it and couldn't put it down... it's a great piece of work.

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