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Same Date of Rank - Grads at the top and bottom from West Point, Annapolis and the Air Force Academy Paperback – April 24, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Xlibris, Corp. (April 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1436398959
  • ISBN-13: 978-1436398954
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,710,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Marcia N. Pierce on June 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book is based on the old joke: Q: What do you call the guy who graduated last in medical school? A: Doctor. In the three U.S. Military Academies, Army, Navy and Air Force, the top and bottom graduate have the "Same Date of Rank."

Using interviews gathered over many years, Christopher J. Hoppin (Lt. Col., U.S. Air Force, Ret.) tells the fascinating stories of men and women who graduated near the top and the bottom of their classes in the three military academies. We learn why they went to the academy, what their lives were like during their time there, and most importantly, their subsequent careers.

Hoppin is eminently qualified to tell these stories. In addition to having been a Liaison Officer for the Air Force Academy for many years, he is the father of an Air Force Academy graduate. A Liaison Officer, as you will learn in this book, has the job of guiding a student who wishes to apply to the Academy through the application procedure.

In the first chapter, Hoppin gives an overview of the academies and the procedure he used to obtain the stories. Throughout the book, while telling individual stories, he imparts a wealth of information about the academies as well as information about the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.

But the heart of the book is the stories of these men and women, taken from the class of 1942 through 1999. To me, the most fascinating story is the first one. The man who graduated last in 1942 was the first in his class to become a General.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By HistoryBuff on September 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Fantastic book on the academies discussing the history of class rank at the institutions as well as famous tops and bottoms. The real strength of the book is the in-depth bios of some amazing people - most interesting to me were the WWII subjects. Well written and a great way to read about military history and traditions that would otherwise be lost.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Liro on July 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
Lt. Col. Chris Hoppin has compiled the biographies of twenty cadets and midshipmen of the U.S. service academies; both men and women who graduated at the top of their classes as well as those who graduated at the bottom. These stories span 66 years, and with them he offers a straightforward hypothesis: class rank is not necessarily a predictor of fame and fortune. His point is that despite the emphasis on class standing at the academies, the graduates begin their military careers on a level playing field: they share the same date of rank. Hence the title of the book.

Hoppin claims that class rank or a similar order of merit provides an equitable means of eliminating favoritism and politics in the process of attaining first jobs. It's a reasonable thesis, but the data he presents make a strong case for the thesis in only one direction - upwards. That is to say, those who graduate at the top have careers at the top, but those who graduate at the bottom tend not to have careers at the bottom.

Since the 1960s (the period with which I began my look at Hoppin's book), those who graduated first in their class had careers that were marked by high achievement. There is not a single instance reported in this period of a graduate at the top of his or her class who had a lackluster career, military or civilian. These people are the stars, and class rank really didn't matter.

It's a different story in the other direction, and it's here that Hoppin is solidly spot on. The "Tail-End Charlies" do succeed! There are two reasons for this, I think.

First is that they are basically very competent men and women. They were at the top of their high school classes, and they successfully passed the rigorous USAFA entrance exams.
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