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The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966 Paperback – October 27, 2009


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Frequently Bought Together

The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966 + An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943, Volume One of the Liberation Trilogy + The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (Liberation Trilogy)
Price for all three: $41.65

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks; 20th Anniversary Edition edition (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080509122X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805091229
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (156 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,557 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Since its founding by Thomas Jefferson in 1802, the United States Military Academy, "fortress of virtue, preserve of the nation's values," has exerted a powerful and lasting influence on its graduates. As revealed in this Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter's eloquent and heartfelt narrative, the class of 1966 was subjected to oral and ethical pressures that were unique, partly because it was "the first generation of West Pointers to join a losing Army," and partly because of the radical change in society's attitude toward the military during the latter years of the Vietnam era. Atkinson profiles a handful of representatives of that class, following them from their high-spirited cadet years, through the crucible of Southeast Asia and--of those who survived--into the hard peace that ensued. The book is a poignant, thought-provoking account of the struggles of young men who pledged themselves to "Honor, Duty, Country," but found that living up to West Point's iron standards was difficult and in some cases impossible. 100,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo; film rights to Warner Bros; author tour.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Atkinson joins a host of journalists and military men who have tried to explain the impact of Vietnam on the U.S. Army. His approach is to examine the experiences of the West Point Class of 1966, asking whether or not the traditional West Point dictum of "Duty, Honor, Country" is still relevant in the post-Vietnam era. Focusing on a half dozen or so cadets, Atkinson shows how their careers epitomized the problems faced by their generation and by members of their profession. During the quarter century after graduation, 30 members of the class died in Vietnam; survivors led competing factions of the movement to build a Vietnam War Memorial, commanded battalions in Grenada, and worked in the scandal-ridden defense industry. Atkinson provides a sophisticated, moving, and exciting journalistic account of the attempts of one West Point class to apply to real life the lessons they learned at the academy. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/89.
- James Marten, Marquette Univ., Milwaukee
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Rick Atkinson is the bestselling author of six works of narrative military history, including The Guns at Last Light, The Day of Battle, An Army at Dawn, The Long Gray Line, In the Company of Soldiers, and Crusade. He also was the lead essayist in Where Valor Rests: Arlington National Cemetery, published by National Geographic. He was a reporter, foreign correspondent, war correspondent, and senior editor at The Washington Post for more than twenty years. His many awards include Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and history, the George Polk Award, and the Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. He lives in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.liberationtrilogy.com.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

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#76 in Books > History
#76 in Books > History

Customer Reviews

This is a deeply moving book, so well written it almost reads like a novel.
Susan
Anyone interested in history, reading about the events and ideas that strongly influenced America in the latter part of the 20th century, should read this book.
Hilde Bygdevoll
The USMA has changed quite a bit since then but the book is very interesting.
William C. Beatty MD

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

110 of 117 people found the following review helpful By Hilde Bygdevoll on March 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
My friend, whom graduated from West Point in 1991, recommended "The Long Gray Line" to me. My object for reading this book was that I wanted to learn more about the Vietnam War, what happened and why. I also wanted to understand more about the problems and turmoil that followed when the War was over. Further, I realised the book would be a great source of information about the West Point Academy, something I wanted to learn more about since my friend had attended the Academy. (A discussion with the same mentioned friend about the Vietnam War had left no doubt that I had considerable gaps in my knowledge of both West Point and the Vietnam War).
I was completely fascinated with the story, and it soon became impossible for me to put the book down. I even wished for longer commute to work, so I could read more (I already have 1 hrs 20 min of commuting each way to work!). After I had finished the book I asked my friend "Was is really like that at West Point?" and he answered "The book gives a `pretty accurate' description of what it was like"..
The first part of this book is about the Academic life at West Point, and at times this part of the book is absolutely hilarious! It left me smiling and laughing for myself.. I love the way the author, Rick Atkinson, describes the different characters. I had no problems picturing the different events in my head and I finished the book feeling like I practically knew all these cadets. The latter part of the book is about the war and it's aftermath. This part of the book is incredibly moving. The author describes these young men's (and their families) trial and suffering so well that you almost feel it as if the pain was your own. This part of the book left me in tears more than one time.
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58 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Lewis F Townsend MD on April 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
What an exciting, engrossing book. You live the life of a plebe in the semi-pre-war, more casual era, then become wrapped in the clouds of the gathering storm clouds as the class progresses. You learn to know and love, hate, or appreciate each of the members as though you are there with them.
Through the lengthy reading process, you learn a great deal about life at West Point, rituals, bull, bonding, and training.
Finally you end up in combat and find that the enemy doesn't chose to play by many of the rules that you were taught, that you need to adapt or die. You learn that the order of allegiance becomes your foxhole buddy, your squad, your company, and way down the line becomes some distant concept of why we are fighting this war...you are fighting to protect your men, your friends.
As men who are as real to your as your own classmates die, you grieve with the author. As men begin to harden and tear, you begin to understand Post-traumatic Stress. As men race against odds you begin to understand the terms from other books like "a hail of bullets", "SNAFU", "CYA", "Duty, Honor, Country."
At the end of the book, you are fatigued, you need R&R, you want to go sit and have a beer with your friends and family and sit with the dog and watch the kids play in the neighborhood. You look a little differently when the flag goes by in the next parade.
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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Kevin F. Kiley on July 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
I found out about this book when it first came out and I was stationed in Washington DC. It was of immediate interest to me, as my brother, a member of the West Point Class of 1964, had been killed in action in Vietnam, and was mentioned in the book. I called the author introduced myself and told him how much I liked the book and who I was.
Rick Atkinson is not only a superb author, he is a fine man, and this book is an accurate tribute to, not only the class he chronicles in the story, but to the American fighting man in Vietanm as a whole.
If you want an even, unbiased account of part of the war in Vietnam, this is it. It is much better than the highly touted Bright Shining Lie, of which I don't think too highly, and is one of the best books written on Vietnam. Atkinson tells the tale with aplomb, wit, empathy, and just plain good writing. Accurate and entertaining, you really can't put it down.
I have also read his book Crusade on the Gulf War, of which I was a participant, and it was the best book I read on the subject. If the book is written by Rick Atkinson, buy it and read it-you won't be disappointed.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Jim Mills on March 8, 2001
Format: Paperback
Having served in Vietnam twice as an infantry officer I of course found this a fascinating book. Though I did not go to West Point I had a Regular Army commission which basically sent me through the same training as West Point graduates--Ranger School and Airborne School--and units--82d Airborne Division, 199th Light Infantry Brigade and the 1st Air Cavalry Division. Additionally I spent one summer training the yearlings at West Point in hand to hand combat and patrolling. My life crossed and intermingled with the class of '66 throughout my four years of service. Reading this book brought back many memories--some good and some too colorful to reveal to anyone but myself. Years after reading this book I am still haunted by the memory of Tommy Hayes. The one person who remains very much alive in my mind and I cannot forget though I never knew him.
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