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Making the Corps Paperback – October 2, 1998

4.6 out of 5 stars 228 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Marines are different: distinct not only from ordinary U.S. citizens but from the ranks of the army, navy, and air force as well. The difference begins with boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, where the history and future of the United States Marine Corps intersect in the training of every new recruit. In Making the Corps, Ricks follows a platoon of young men through 11 grueling weeks of boot camp as their drill instructors indoctrinate them into the culture of the Few and the Proud. Many arrive at Parris Island undisciplined and apathetic; they leave as marines.

With the end of the cold war, the role of the American military has shifted in emphasis from making war to keeping peace. "The best way to see where the U.S. military is going is to look at the marines today," says Ricks, as the other armed forces have begun to emulate the marine model. To understand Parris Island--a central experience in the life of every marine--is to understand the ethos of the Marine Corps. Ricks examines the recent changes in the Standard Operating Procedures for Recruit Training (the bible of Parris Island), which indicate how the corps is dealing with critical social and political issues like race relations, gender equality, and sexual orientation. Making the Corps pierces the USMC's "sis-boom-bah" mythology to help outsiders understand this most esoteric and eccentric of U.S. armed forces. --Tim Hogan

From Library Journal

Ricks, the Wall Street Journal's Pentagon correspondent, here follows a Marine Corps training platoon (#3086) from the arrival of the recruit bus at Parris Island, South Carolina, to graduation. The background he gives on most of the recruits is solid, but Ricks is also concerned with the recent history and present-day image of the corps. According to Ricks, what sets the Marines apart from other U.S. military services is its reliance on teamwork, discipline, and commitment. By following the 3086th through its first year, he not only shows how the new recruit is molded but paints a larger picture of the corps. John Wayne movies have shaped most Americans' image of the Marines?an image that, as Ricks shows, is not necessarily reality today. Highly recommended for all libraries, especially those with large historical collections.?Mark E. Ellis, Albany State Univ., Ga.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Touchstone ed edition (October 2, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684848171
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684848174
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (228 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,193,914 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Paperback
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.
3 Comments 18 of 18 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Paperback
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!
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