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Keeping Faith: A Father-Son Story About Love and the United States Marine Corps Hardcover – August 27, 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 94 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The story of a young man having a growth experience by joining the military is a classic scenario, and John Schaeffer does justice to his take on it in his account of personal transformation from high-school graduate to U.S. Marines corporal. Interspersed with his narrative are his father Frank's remarks on the rest of the family's incidental affiliation with and new perspective on the marines in particular and the military in general. They brought to the encounter the ignorance and prejudice against the military that too often accompanies their status as members of the college-educated white middle class, from which, in fact, precious few of America's servicemen come. But in the end, Frank expresses open pride in having sent one of "the best ye breed" to the corps before September 11. One of the better books of its kind, and likely to remain so. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"What the Schaeffers have done here is extraordinary! ... This is a timely, compelling, and important book!" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf; 1st Carroll & Graf Ed edition (August 27, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786710977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786710973
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #564,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

New York Times best selling author of more than a dozen books Frank Schaeffer is a survivor of both polio and an evangelical/fundamentalist childhood, an acclaimed writer who overcame severe dyslexia, a home-schooled and self-taught documentary movie director, a feature film director and producer of four low budget Hollywood features Frank has described as "pretty terrible," and a best selling author of both fiction and nonfiction. Frank is the author of "And God Said, 'Billy!'" and many other books. Frank's three semi-biographical novels about growing up in a fundamentalist mission: "Portofino," "Zermatt" and "Saving Grandma" have a worldwide following and have been translated into nine languages. Jane Smiley writing in the Washington Post (7/10/11) says this of Frank's memoirs "Crazy For God" and "Sex, Mom and God": "[Schaeffer's] memoirs have a way of winning a reader's friendship...Schaeffer is a good memoirist, smart and often laugh-out-loud funny...Frank seems to have been born irreverent, but his memoirs have a serious purpose, and that is to expose the insanity and the corruption of what has become a powerful and frightening force in American politics... Frank has been straightforward and entertaining in his campaign to right the political wrongs he regrets committing in the 1970s and '80s...As someone who has made redemption his work, he has, in fact, shown amazing grace."

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I recently received a copy of the new book, "Keeping Faith" by Frank and John Schaeffer for review. This book is a collaborative effort between a Marine (John) and his father (Frank). It not only tells the story of one young man's journey from a "nasty" civilian to a Marine, via Paris Island, but it explores the feelings between a son and a father during that
transition. Though two of my own kids made that journey nearly four years ago, this book dredged up all the emotions of that time-the selfish disappointment at having a child leave home, the anxiety over whether they would make it, and the pride in having a son or daughter become a member of America's most elite fighting force. It also brought new understanding to what the training at Parris Island accomplishes and painted the vivid details that my own kids omitted when recounting their experience.
Throughout the book, the chronological story of the training at boot camp is interspersed with John Schaeffer's poetry and letters to his dad and Frank's letters to Recruit Schaeffer. "Keeping Faith" unveils the love and emotions of a father and son in an intimate way and examines the subtle changes in that relationship that the journey from childhood to adulthood, via the Marine Corps, brings. If you are a the parent of a poolee or new recruit, this book will be invaluable to understanding what your son or daughter is about to undertake and what it will mean to you. For those who have already made the journey, "Keeping Faith" will rekindle all those emotions, from your recruit getting on the bus, to the pride filled day of graduation. It should be mandatory reading for all Marine parents. Even your non-Marine friends would gain an understanding of why Marines and their parents are so proud of the title, United States Marine.
I highly recommend this book to all.
Neal Wells
Proud Father of...
2 Marines and an Airman
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By Niko on September 24, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Keeping Faith details, through Father and Son journal excerpts, letters and conversations, the days leading up to, and during, Frank Schaeffer's youngest son John's enlistment into the USMC. The book presented me with moments of hilarity, and tears. I recommend it strongly not only to Fathers and Sons, but also to military families everywhere.
For Fathers the book provides an honest look inside a father's heart as he struggles with the issue of letting go of his youngest child, while facing the realities of the empty nest.
For Sons the book gives an intimate look and one son's path to manhood, as he breaks away from his father's shadow and enhances his sense of self, without ever leaving his father's heart.
For USMC fans the book offers an intimate look inside the Corps experience. From the hell of boot camp life and the interdependence it fosters among the recruits to the often-frustrating life within the Corps that follows boot camp graduation. What an eye opener for those whose only experience with the Marine Corps is that which is presented by Hollywood!
What a book!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book covers a cross section of subjects. While I think the father intended it's focus to be about his relationship with his son, the son's in-depth narrative of boot camp and his transformation into a Marine were much more touching to me.
As to the father-son relationship, this is the tale of a loving father who is losing his son as he grows to a man. And this really starts before he enters the Marines as he becomes more attached to a girl of whom the father does not approve...When the son John enters boot camp, the real excitement starts as you live through the experience with him. The brainwashing of these recruits seems extreme until you watch these recruits grow into the type Marines the DIs wanted. I'm not sure I could survive the mental and physical effects of boot camp and anyone who has passed boot camp is to be commended. It's interesting to watch these guys struggle the last few weeks with injuries that should be treated but would only delay the recruit's training.
After boot camp, the book then shows the negative of the military. This motivated recruit is sent for Morse Code training for 4 months only to be sidelined for over a year, as his security clearance has not been processed in Washington. What a waste of taxpayer money and young people's lives. But even this demeaning treatment does not shake the extreme pride in the Corp.
Probably the most important lesson of this book is how a son from an upper-middle class family chooses a career in the Marines while suffering the ridicule of the liberal friends of his parents and how his father's attitude changes about this. I felt this could have been covered in more depth.
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1 Comment 31 of 32 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
The caterpillar to butterfly story of the development of young men who have joined the military is an old, old story. Certainly many books poke at this timeless theme, and Hollywood certainly isn't unfamiliar with the same theme. John Schaiffer and his father Frank do justice to this idea without becoming trite or syrupy.
The book examines what it mean to become a Marine. But it also directly and indirectly digs into the idea of commitment to a higher idea...in this case giving up oneself to become a member of an elite group of fighting men, and in the process getting back more than one gave up. It flip flops between John's narrative and his fathers observations. Interesting.
As a former Marine I found a connection with John. Having gone through bootcamp in June of 1967 in San Diego, the connection to this new generation of Marines is immediate and profound. This, as all former Marines know, isn't new. The membership in this club spans all generations. No generation gap here.
If you're a former Marine, you'll want to read the book for obvious reasons. If you're not, read it anyway. You'll gain some respect for the youth of today.
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