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Basic: Surviving Boot Camp and Basic Training Hardcover – May 8, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“The unique transition from civilian to Soldier has always generated tall tales... about the environment, the changes, and of course the ever-present Drill Sergeant who changes your life. While the portrayed events usually grow with exaggeration and some added humor as Soldiers grow older, Jack Jacobs and Dave Fisher have captured the ‘war stories' of basic training in a uniquely hilarious and moving way. Well done, gentlemen and patriots!” ―Mark Hertling, Former Deputy Commander for Initial Military Training, US Army

“Movies and television shows have taught us to think of boot camp as a grueling physical challenge--and it is that--but what we take away here is a deeper understanding of the punishing psychological component as recruits learn to box up their individuality in favor of conformity and the unfaltering following of orders.” ―Booklist

“Provides a clear and sometimes mordantly amusing overview of the training experience, punctuating it with personal accounts from soldiers.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“This is a book about transformation, the transition from civilian to soldier. … With insight and candor, Basic is certain to bring back memories for the 40 million people who have gone through it, and provide a grasp of what it is like for the others who have not.” ―Tucson Citizen

“The two authors weave interesting facts and stories about basic training throughout their readable book, with personal accounts from service members interviewed.” ―The Fayetteville Observer

“It's a privilege to call [Col. Jack Jacobs] a friend and an honor to recommend this remarkable life story.” ―Tom Brokow on If Not Now, When?

“One warning: The book you are about to read, at its core, is a story about selflessness, sacrifice, and service. I will never view my friend Jack in the same way again. I just didn't think it was possible to admire him any more than I already did.” ―Brian Williams on If Not Now, When?

About the Author

In addition to his Medal of Honor, Colonel Jack Jacobs (Ret.) is the recipient of three Bronze Stars and two Silver Stars. He is the Vice Chairman of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, holds the McDermott Chair of Humanities and Public Affairs at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and is an on-air analyst for NBC News. Colonel Jacobs is also the author of the Colby Award–winning memoir If Not Now, When? He lives in New Jersey.

David Fisher is the author of more than fifty books, including sixteen New York Times bestsellers. He lives in New York.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; 1st edition (May 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312622775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312622770
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,814,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For anyone who is a veteran this is a must-read book. When I loaded it on my iPad and started reading, I could not stop reading and laughing about all the memories which were triggered on almost every page.

I did my basic in 1969 at Ft. Leonard Wood, Co. E-3-2 , and the references to activities there, especially the night combat course on the Bloodland Range, gave me instant flash-backs to things I had not remembered in many, many years. Like Guard Duty on a WWII era club that had not been used since then. Like Sgt Murphy, the brigade mascot, a huge St. Bernard that weighed something like 300 pounds wet after a bath. The huge rats in the Nebraska Street theater running over your feet. KP. Graduation day with the families present. What a grand flood of memories that are triggered.

For anyone going into the military, this will prepare you for the mind games that are played and give you an understanding of why the Basic Training instructors do what they do. Thanks Sgt. Tovar, you built an independent man and kept him alive.

Thanks Col. Jacobs, Outstanding book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I wrote this review for the sake of readers who are looking for a "how-to" book to prepare them for the experience of basic training/boot camp. If that happens to be you, please be informed that this is NOT that kind of text.

Sure, you'll learn a bunch of stuff you did not know about transitioning into the military from this book, and you'll be entertained along the way. But the book is primarily an organized anthology of many anecdotes told by people who went through basic training. Many of the stories are dated (some from what happened in boot camps in the 1940s, for example, and not all that many from men and women who went through basic within the past decade.).

In the acknowledgements the authors thank people including Sgt. Michael Volkin, author of "The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook" (Savas Beatie Publishing Co. 2005). Volkin's book is an outstanding "how-to" that tells you a great deal of practical info to prepare you for boot camp and to prepare you for entering into a whole different culture and society with its own rituals, rules, and systems. So if you want to read a book to help you get ready to make that transition and get a head start on prepping for boot camp, Volkin's book is a better choice.

Of course if you are wise you'll read everything you can get your hands on - including this book of "stories about people remembering boot camp." You still won't be fully prepared, but at least you'll have a clue about what you are getting yourself into. And if you studied Volkin's book you'll at least know how to do things like read rank, tell "military time," dress faster, address your drill instructor, get into shape ahead of time, etc.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As an Honorably Discharged Vietnam Era Veteran let me make one main point before I get into the detail of this book:


When you enter the United States Military... in most cases as a teenager or a young adult... except during the war years where you may have been drafted at a more advanced age... you are promised by your brand new D.I. ... T.I. ... or whatever name they've assigned to your branch of the service for the mostly malicious... egomaniacal... slave driving... short on brains... dripping in prejudice... supposedly having your best interests in mind... etc. ... etc. ... person who's going to eventually save your life and the life of your platoon/flight/etc. teammates life... that this time in basic training will become the experience that you will look back on with the greatest joy and admiration of anything you've participated in during your entire life.

This is of course absolute B.S.! Just off the top of my head... the birth of my children and grandchildren were way higher on the lifetime enjoyment scale among many others.

And it so happened that my D.I. was the most anti-Semitic individual I ever met before my enlistment in 1968 and for the forty-four years since then. In fact he would have been a perfect wing man for Hitler... except for the fact that I don't think Hitler ever had minorities in executive positions.

But putting that aside... this book is so spot on in it's descriptions and examples of every single part of basic training that I don't think there's an American Veteran alive who won't get some joy out of this book... as over and over...
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was drafted in 1969. This book brought back a lot of memories of a cold winter at Ft Lewis Washington from November to January. Most of my unit went to Vietnam and we all knew that was coming. The book also brought back the pride I can feel now for having served my country. Good read for anyone that has been through Army basic whatever the reason.
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Format: Paperback
I picked up this book going into it like I was going to get a lot of tips but also just a lot of dialect. Yes this book does have dialect but it is not stale. It is actually very enlightening. Throughout the book are quotes from military movies or actual personal that endured boot camp/basic training. Although I have never actually been in the military, I did get a little taste of what it would be like to enlist in the military. I was in the Civil Air Patrol and I was gone for a week at the Air Force Academy. I had to follow all of the rules as if I was actually in the military with the 45 degree hospital corners, dusting and cleaning my room, the bathroom, and polishing my boots as well as ironing my uniform. Oh and taking a shower what is that. I was lucky if I got to take a 5 minute shower. It was because of this that I have learned to take quick showers and get dressed quickly.

So I could relate to stuff that people were talking about. I even understood the reason for the yelling. The stories that people would share were funny. This is a well-written, quick read.
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