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Army 101: Inside ROTC in a Time of War Hardcover – February 9, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

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*Starred Review* In the opening pages, portraying an infantry platoon tensely awaiting the enemy, Axe seems to start his ROTC report at the end, with new soldiers in the field. Actually, he's describing a combat exercise to home in on one of the book's four focal figures and the different objectives of students and instructors during such exercises. Both know this is play. But the cadets must go at it for real, with the trainers watching, looking especially for leadership capability. Recounting the experiences of University of South Carolina cadets, particularly those of two men and two women, Axe presents ROTC functions, such as Ranger Challenge, a competition involving skills and actions required of special forces soldiers, and Airborne School, which teaches jumping out of planes at low altitudes. He also discusses ROTC culture, which is disproportionately African American (three of the four focal students are black) and, like the professional military, biased toward men; one woman is sidelined because she can't do a pull-up suited up, and the other, an ace soldier who matches the men even at drinking, must realize she probably can't have an infantry career. Axe's concrete prose, his lack of prejudice and partisanship, and his respect for every cadet and army educator he limns, as well as for the ROTC itself, make this massively informative little book great reading. Ray Olson
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Review

"David Axe offers an insightful look at a premier ROTC program, and the making of the minds and bodies of the young men and women who will be the backbone of the next generation of Army officers.... The officer candidate cameos he shapes are of highly motivated, physically fit young men and women but with a dubious facility for critical thought. Army 101 is well worth reading for what this holds for the future." - Walter C. Rodgers, former senior intelligence correspondent for CNN and author of Sleeping with Custer and the 7th Cavalry: An Imbedded Reporter in Iraq"
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: University of South Carolina Press; First Edition edition (February 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1570036608
  • ISBN-13: 978-1570036606
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,573,368 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

2.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Samuel Brown on April 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
When I heard that a book had been written about my ROTC unit during the time that I was a cadet, I was intrigued. I was also curious, how I never really knew that anyone was working on such a project, especially when I should have known. I was for all intents and purposes a cadet who was in the center of things within the unit, including its Cadet Battalion Commander in the fall of 2005. All I remember was reporter coming to a couple of our field exercises and taking pictures while hardly talking to anyone. David Axe's Army 101: Inside ROTC in a Time of War is a biased and consistently inaccurate portrayal of the Gamecock Battalion during the time that I was cadet.

To start with, Army 101 is ripe with inaccuracies about the ROTC and the Army in general. Axe quotes graphic running cadences that I have never heard, and he talks about cadets using M60 machine guns in training at Fort Jackson. Not once do I recall having M60 machine guns on any field training exercise. He makes several attempts to interject cadet lingo, but gets it terribly wrong. For instance he mentions that the cadet in charge the Ranger Challenge team was referred to as the "Ranger Daddy." As a four year Ranger Challenge team member during the period covered in the book, not once do I remember that term being used seriously. My favorite thing is the contention that most of the Cadets belonged to fraternities or sororities. There were a few cadets who participated in Greek organizations, but as I recall most did not. In fact, I would argue that "frat guys" were looked down on amongst the cadets with a few notable exceptions.

I will admit that The Gamecock Battalion had its faults. I remember the old Sergeant that was sexually harassing the female cadets. The man was a pig.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By GraniteSapper on May 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a current ROTC Professor of Military Science, I was very excited to learn that a book had been written about Army ROTC. I ordered a couple of copies and I and the staff read on, hoping to incorporate the book into our Freshman course. I will say that the book is at least written at the high school / college freshman level, so it has that going for it (and that it can be read in a couple of hours). Unfortunately, Axe does a woeful job in accurately portraying a "Year in the Life" of an ROTC program, and too often intersperses expletive-laden descriptors as color commentary, and throws in the occasional Political-Military opinion into the mix, disrupting the flow of the narrative and turning off many readers in mid-stream.

This book did not do its theme and subjects great justice, and I hope a better book on the Reserve Officer's Training Course does surface in the near future - particularly in these times our nation deserves a better appreciation as to what its sons and daughters do to adequately prepare them to be junior leaders in this ever-changing Contemporary Operating Environment.
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By Ben on July 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
It's jarringly obvious that author David Axe didn't put a great amount of effort into his examination of Army ROTC. The book is alarmingly thin, barely a half dozen cadets seem to have been interviewed, and he clearly couldn't be bothered to do much research (as evidenced by bizarre belief that a certain NCO's combat patch indicates that he slaughtered Iraqis in Desert Storm or that it is a common occurrence for students at Airborne school to be dragged along the ground to their deaths by a parachute caught in a sudden gust of wind). Judging from the limited scope of the book, it seems that Axe got bored with his topic and decided to simply wrap it up and send it to a publisher. Or perhaps it was a magazine article that got out of hand.

Also problematic is Axe's insistence on making his negative feelings towards the military apparent on a regular basis. He is clearly uncomfortable with uniforms, weapons and authority figures and makes a point to greatly exaggerate the violent aspects of ROTC training. The fact is, ROTC makes a point of wearing "kid gloves" as often as possible so as not to scare off new cadets. Perhaps the program depicted was more gung-ho than average, but I doubt it. It's far more likely that Axe was expecting "Fullmetal Jacket Lite" and, rather than admit that he was incorrect, went searching for it.

But while Axe seems to have a weak grasp on the facts and distorted view of the military in general, he does pretty accurately depict the people within ROTC. Cadre are occasionally unprofessional and overbearing, but the majority of the NCOs and officers take their job seriously and are depicted doing so.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By concerned reader on January 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Really, go get the Bill Murray movie Stripes and watch it-- it's a better and more inspiring military story than this. I'm just amazed, from how this guy writes about not just our military stuff but ANY military stuff, that he didn't use the word "fascist" in there. You might as well listen to the song "Three Five Zero Zero" from the musical Hair instead from his take. (And, being an Army ROTC graduate who's gone through what the author wrote about in the book, I think he could've spent more time and gotten more unvarnished this-is-it material for a bigger/better book instead of just being negative.) If you think soldiers are suckers fighting in Iraq to increase Dick Cheney's portfolio with Haliburton, then this book is for you (be sure to get that 40th Anniversary edition of Jane Fonda's FTA with it too).
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