on May 31, 2006
I was in Platoon 3086, my name was Recruit Daniel Armstrong (I later changed my name due to 'family' politics)and can be best quoted as "the stork-like construction worker from Florida", who wants to "get drunk and laid on boot-leave". First note - never tell anything to a reporter you wouldn't want your grandmother to read about.
I think Thomas Ricks did a great job with the material that he had, but I don't think he had enough material to write a book. He originally intended (or so we were told) to just write an article which appeared in The Wallstreet Journal and was a very good article, but I got the feeling he added a lot of "fluff" to lengthen the work into a book. He was only there a handful of times over the course of bootcamp and if he was intending to write a book, should have spent more time with us. I know he made some assumptions about recruits that were not necessarily true (particularly about Recruits Prish and Winston) and I think he could of done a better job on following up with us after bootcamp. I think it was a really good book about bootcamp in general, but fell short in the area of what we went through personally and how we felt.
on February 22, 2010
When I learned that a family member was about to become a Marine recruit, I could not have been more ignorant. The Marine Corps? What does that mean?
This book gives you an idea of how new recruits become Marines and how the Corps is different from the other services. If you love a Marine, or a young person who wants to become one, this is an excellent introduction. In addition to the bootcamp stories, you learn about the culture of the Marines. I know that I was fascinated by the authors comments on how much more relaxed Marines are with the press, how innovative they can be, and how much harder it is to get a promotion.
The book is not all complimentary. There are interesting issues raised about the conflict between Marine and civilian culture. The book was originally published in peace time, and that also made a difference in the attitudes of the people portrayed in the book.
on June 1, 2000
This is what you call a high adrenaline book! It will make you feel guilty for sitting in a comfy chair reading about the ardous physical and mental training. I loved this book -- I've always had a great respect for military training, but I was particulary interested in reading about the mental games. Most people focus on the physical, but Ricks shows how the mental games are just as important for surviving. This is a no-nonsense, journalist, first hand account of marine boot camp. The detail and insider perspective make it a great read!
on April 1, 1999
If you want a great read about today's USMC recruit training at Parris Island, SC, and a great insight into the USMC vs. American society 'culture war,' then don't miss this OUTSTANDING book!
Ricks does a superb job of capturing the challenges and triumphs of a real platoon undergoing bootcamp at the Corps' legendary Parris Island Recruit Depot. He explores the recruits' backgrounds and responses to the transforming bootcamp experience. Unlike some other works which seem to exaggerate certain perspectives, this book is an honest, realistic and well-written collection of astute, in-depth observations. You will understand how the Corps continues to thrive while keeping their numbers small, standards high, and traditions strong.
This book also analyzes the growing cultural gap between the USMC and the very society from which it comes. Ricks did extensive research into this gap and carefully weaves it in all throughout the book. He accurately describes the USMC cultural experience and compares it to what you see and don't see in today's society. If you have never given this gap much thought, you will find yourself wondering why you never noticed it before.
Being a Marine, I loved this book. Being a part of American society, I was intrigued and entertained by this book. I recommend this book to any Marine and all citizens who ever considered becoming a Marine, running for public office, or know others who have done either one. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.
on February 7, 2000
Reading this book was like taking a trip in Peabody's Wayback Machine. Though the Marine boot camp experience is one that most will never forget, the opening chapters of the book which describe those first few hours bring back the memories with startling clarity. Though there have been many changes since I went through (training schedule, the buildings, etc), the fundamental structure of boot camp is still intact. From the whirlwind of chaos that greets you when you get off the bus to the sense of elation you feel on Graduation Day, Mr. Ricks has fashioned an intricate tour of the entire boot camp experience. Even though it is a little out of date with the current training curriculum, the book still provides a fascinating insight into this once-in-a-lifetime experience. My favorite aspects of the book are the studies of the various recruits and their differing motivations for joining the Corps, as well as the look at the drill instructors charged with training the recruits and molding them into Marines. The duties of a Marine DI are generally overlooked or simplified when they're conveyed in movies or TV or in other books, and Mr. Ricks does a stellar job in showing the enormous responsibility these men and women undertake. This book should be required reading for anyone interested in learning more about Marines.
on March 12, 1999
I got this book for Christmas in 1997 and I still love to pick it up and read it at least once a week!!! Being an ex-Marine, I love re-living those days of wearing my Dress Blues everytime I pick up this book.Thomas Ricks has not only found out what makes Marines different from all other servicemen and women, but he informs us, the readers why. In addition to telling us why, he gives first-hand account of the process that occurs in Marine Corps bootcamp when a young man or woman enters as a raw recruit and is then transformed into a United States Marine.In the book, Ricks follows a group of young men at MCRD Parris Island, SC. He goes into such detail that it amazes me of the actual time spent with these individuals. Also, he spends ample time with the infamous drill instructors and gets their insights on bootcamp. He addresses what the goals of bootcamp are from the DI's side and also from the recruits side.Ricks covers it all.... from that first step off the white bus at Receiving Barracks to the famous "Yellow Footprints" and eventually onto Graduation Day. He drives home the Corps' philosophies and core values..... Honor, Courage and Commitment.Marines are the epitome of excellence..... no other branch of service honors it's past as much and is so rich in tradition as we, the Marines are. I strongly recommend that any young man or woman who is contemplating going into the Marines should read this book. They will know what is expected of them in bootcamp and what they must then live up to once they have EARNED the title, "Marine." Thomas Ricks has captured that "Esprit de Corps" that sets Marines apart from all others. After reading this book, I'm sure your respect for all Marines, past and present, will have been elevated to a new high.Semper Fidelis, Thomas Ricks!!!
on January 21, 2003
If you are a soon-to-be high school graduate thinking of joining the beloved Corps this book is a good place to start. Most of the information is accurate, but there are a few things the author didn't convey, through no fault of his own.
1) If you consider yourself an intellectual and passionate for human/political causes..stay out of the Marine Corps because its not the place for you. Philosophical debate is fine and all but as a Marine rifleman, you're not entitled the right to debate unfair orders or afforded the time to ponder the growing rift between the military and civilian society. You do what you are told and keep your mouth shut.
2) It's amazing that Sgt. Carey made it as far as he has with the risks he took training recruits. I was a member of Platoon 3013 in the summer of 1995. I wish Ricks could have written justice of Carey's complete and utter contempt for some of the sub-standard recruits he was forced to graduate. Not getting into details, there were a few occasions where he crossed the line. One of these occasions involved me. I didn't take it personal, I didn't think he wanted to hurt me...I understood he wanted to train me and prepare me for the worst. Eight years later I still hope I'll one day get the chance to thank him for that personally. I often think that Sgt. Carey would have been better off being born hundreds of years ago, in feudal Japan.
With the current rules and regulations set in place by bleeding-heart politicians and bureaucrats that have never served a day in the service....today's Marine Corps bears little resemblance to your father's or grandfather's time in the Corps. With recruits that want to press charges when their feelings are hurt, the hamstringing of DIs that want to do their job, and civilians second-guessing people that are trying to protect them the reader really needs to take everything into consideration after reading this book and speaking to some Marines that have served, or currently serving.
In closing, I lament the fact that most people reading this book and that decide to enlist will never have the chance to have a Sgt. Carey as their drill instructor. Because of his professionalism and 24/7 intensity I've tried to follow his example and not sell myself short. I was one of the "quiet middle" recruits that went on to complete a "Yankee White" tour at WHCA, serve a tour overseas as a infantry squad leader, and recently completed college with plans to become a Maryland State Trooper. 70% percent of that is because of the main character in Rick's book..Sgt. Carey.
P.S. If some (former)Marines take exception to some of the comments I've written..too bad. I've put my time in and rate the right to express what I want. This is my real name, not a pseudonym. Semper Fi.
on March 28, 2011
All I ever wanted to be in this world was a Marine, from the age of six my super heroes wore dress blues and kicked ass in the pacific, vietnam, korea, or the gulf wars of today. While I grew up and the hero worship went away as I grew smarter (and hopefully a wee bit wiser) I was still left with the passion and drive to become an United States Marine. In middle school and high school this book was my constant companion, I must have read it at least 50 times in between pestering my recruiter and preparing myself for boot camp. Now I am the Marine and an Honorably Discharged Veteran of my beloved Corps and this book still remains one of the best books you can read if your going to boot, graduated boot (prepare for a nostalgia trip), or just want to understand these Marine nutcases you've seen around now and then.
on November 3, 1999
Making the Corps was very enjoyable to read, and will certainly be appreciated by anyone who has gone through Army or Marine Corps basic training. Thomas Ricks has superbly captured with color and pathos the experience of young people being newly initiated into the culture and environment of military service. However I feel he over emphasizes the perception that the civilian public has become disenchanted with or alienated from the values of the military. One need only witness the tremendous surge of popularity for Saving Private Ryan, a film which dramatically emphasizes the core values of the military as demonstrated by characters representing the common citizen. As an Army vet I also agree with some of the reviewers that Ricks tends to nick the "Green Machine" a bit unfairly at times (for a clearer picture of the Army I would recommend George Wilson's Mud Soldiers.) I trained at Ft. Benning GA under a freckle-faced red-headed maniac from Tennesee, our senior drill sergeant, who would have felt right at home on Perris Island. I believe that Army Basic (non-coed) at Ft. Benning was essentially comparable to Marine Basic at P.I. with one major ideological exception, which Ricks aptly points out. After completing Army Infantry School graduation we were simply referred to as "soldiers." After P.I. or Pendleton graduation Rick's subjects are not referred to but "titled" mind you, "UNITED STATES MARINES." God help them, its true, the Marines have always been able to foster that essence of identity which the Army and the other services have never been able to capture, and it is that intangible which makes them special. Yes I do admire "The Corps," and I highly recommend Rick's book.
on March 14, 1999
Making the Corps is a must-read for anyone in or interested in the Marine Corps, but more importantly, not interested in the Marine Corps. You won't be able to put it down, you'll want to call your local recruiter, you'll find yourself humming cadence as you walk down the street. You just may come to understand what "Semper Fi" really means.
I found myself wishing that the transformation Platoon 3086 undergoes in the hands of its first-class Drill Instructors were the transformation of society...we could certainly use some more Honor, Courage, and Commitment in civilian life today.
As the daughter of a former MSgt. who is not able to join the Corps, this book makes me nostalgic for the Corps I can't have, but also reaffirms my personal beliefs, values and attitudes (those "intangibles") which are identical to those taught to Platoon 3086...Sgt. Carey can be my "heavy" any day! Semper Fi!