The Long Gray Line

The Long Gray Line

4.3 17
by Rick Atkinson

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Since its founding by Thomas Jefferson in 1802, the United States Military Academy, ``fortress of virtue, preserve of the nation's values,'' has exerted a powerful and lasting influence on its graduates. As revealed in this Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter's eloquent and heartfelt narrative, the class of 1966 was subjected to oral and ethical pressures that were unique, partly because it was ``the first generation of West Pointers to join a losing Army,'' and partly because of the radical change in society's attitude toward the military during the latter years of the Vietnam era. Atkinson profiles a handful of representatives of that class, following them from their high-spirited cadet years, through the crucible of Southeast Asia and--of those who survived--into the hard peace that ensued. The book is a poignant, thought-provoking account of the struggles of young men who pledged themselves to ``Honor, Duty, Country,'' but found that living up to West Point's iron standards was difficult and in some cases impossible. 100,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo; film rights to Warner Bros; author tour. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Atkinson joins a host of journalists and military men who have tried to explain the impact of Vietnam on the U.S. Army. His approach is to examine the experiences of the West Point Class of 1966, asking whether or not the traditional West Point dictum of ``Duty, Honor, Country'' is still relevant in the post-Vietnam era. Focusing on a half dozen or so cadets, Atkinson shows how their careers epitomized the problems faced by their generation and by members of their profession. During the quarter century after graduation, 30 members of the class died in Vietnam; survivors led competing factions of the movement to build a Vietnam War Memorial, commanded battalions in Grenada, and worked in the scandal-ridden defense industry. Atkinson provides a sophisticated, moving, and exciting journalistic account of the attempts of one West Point class to apply to real life the lessons they learned at the academy. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/89.-- James Marten, Marquette Univ., Milwaukee

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