Making the Corps: 61 Men Came to Paris Island to Become Marines, Not All of Them Made It

Making the Corps: 61 Men Came to Paris Island to Become Marines, Not All of Them Made It

by Thomas E. Ricks
     
 

The United States Marine Corps, with its fiercely proud tradition of excellence in combat, its hallowed rituals, and its unbending code of honor, is part of the fabric of American myth. No other group in America leaves so deep and permanent a mark on its members. Today, though, the Marine Corps feels increasingly besieged, at war with a new kind of enemy: the vast… See more details below

Overview

The United States Marine Corps, with its fiercely proud tradition of excellence in combat, its hallowed rituals, and its unbending code of honor, is part of the fabric of American myth. No other group in America leaves so deep and permanent a mark on its members. Today, though, the Marine Corps feels increasingly besieged, at war with a new kind of enemy: the vast social and political forces that it feels threaten to destroy its values. Making the Corps visits the front lines of that war: boot camp, Parris Island, South Carolina, "where the difference begins." Here, old values are stripped away and new, Marine Corps values, forged. Acclaimed military journalist Thomas E. Ricks follows sixty-three raw recruits, the men of recruit platoon 3086, from their hometowns to Parris Island, through boot camp, and into their first year as Marines. As three fierce drill instructors fight a battle for the hearts and minds of this unforgettable group of young men, a larger picture emerges, brilliantly painted, of the growing gulf that devides the military from the rest of America.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Wall Street Journal Pentagon correspondent Ricks effectively combines a vivid account of the rigorous basic training received by US Marine recruits with commentary on what separates the demanding, disciplined culture of America's military elite from the more permissive culture of its civilian society.

The author tracks the 60-odd volunteers who comprised Platoon 3086 at Parris Island i 1995 through the challenging 11-week course known as boot camp. Unlike their counterparts in other branches of the US military, aspiring marines do not train alongside women; nor do they have access to alcohol, automobiles, candy, cigarettes, drugs, or various other diversions dear to the hearts of young American males. Ricks offers anecdotal evidence on what USMC recruits must endure in the way of indoctrination from fearsome (but no longer gratuitously brutal) drill instructors in the deep piney woods where apprentice warriors get their first taste of what combat is like, and in other invariably sweaty venues. He goes on to review the washout rate of 14 percent or so (which thins 3086's ranks to 55 by graduation day), the ongoing debate on ever-tougher entrance requirements (which probably cost the corps some superior fighting men), and the army's purposefully "user-friendly" training regimen (which reportedly neither instills esprit nor prepares soldiers to do battle). Covered as well is the risk that alienation could induce cream-of-the-crop troops like marines to take a more forceful role in the governance of the nation they are pledged to protect, if not engage in an outright coup. The author argues that it behooves America's largely oblivious middle and upper classes to take a more direct interest in their military.

A revelatory briefing on what sets the USMC apart and the consequences of its superiority during a postCold War era when, for all the talk of peace dividends, the wider world remains an armed and dangerous place.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780788169946
Publisher:
DIANE Publishing Company
Publication date:
12/01/1997
Pages:
320

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