This is quite a diversion from my usual reading, but it came so highly recommended from my dad that I had to try it. Ricks’ nonfiction novel following the lives of Marine Recruit Platoon 3086 was inspiring and entertaining, including tidbits from the guys’ day-to-day lives within the boot camp as well as bits of information regarding Marine culture and life.
Synopsis (from goodreads.com)
“Making the Corps” visits the front lines of boot camp, Parris Island, South Carolina. Here, old values are stripped away and new, Marine Corps values are forged. Acclaimed military journalist Thomas E. Ricks follows these men from their hometowns, 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 divides the military from the rest of America.
The author, the senior Penatgon correspondent from The Washington Post, is a huge fan of the Marine culture and way of life. He states that “in a society that seems to have trouble transmitting values, the Marines stand out as successful and healthy institution that unabashedly teaches values to the Beavises and Buttheads of America” (pg 20). I admire the brashness and brute honesty in how the author delivers his opinions of…well, everything. Everything regarding the Marines, their culture, and the relationship between civilians and our military.
To be honest, this book must be read with a grain of salt. It was a bit degrading to read the author’s [constant] tangents about how American civilian life is “undisciplined and lazy”, but in comparison to the soldiers of the military…yup. However, I do wish the author organized his rants and comparisons of the Army and Marines a little more thoroughly so I knew when to expect them. He almost interrupts himself in a few instances in his rush to instill us civilians with his vast military knowledge.
Regardless of the author’s opinions, the chapters detailing the life of the platoon were extremely fascinating. I loved watching them grow and develop into full-fledged Marine privates before my eyes. The different personalities of the men were what made the book for me; I wanted them to make it, to cheer them on when everything hit the fan. I enjoyed learning about their backgrounds and families, and the logic behind their decision to join the Marines. Ricks includes a very interesting section near the end of the book where he details the different journeys of the recruits we came to know and love. I felt like I knew them.