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on January 2, 2017
When I first started working towards getting ready for Marine bootcamp I read this for a bit of insight. And insightful it was. I really learned just how much teamwork and comradery is valued in the corps. What I enjoyed most, was learning about key historical facts involving the marines and it's existence. Learning this and everything else felt like I was listening to an actual person tell a story. Overall a great read, a great story.
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on October 7, 2014
Extremely compelling! The Corps is doing what no other institution in America seems to be doing. They're taking a "Beavis" and "Butthead" out of high school on a Monday and 11 weeks later turning them into someone who tries to achieve excellence in tying his/her shoe strings. This book explains how the Corps does this at their basic training camp at Parris Island (The west coast camp is in San Diego). You'll follow a platoon of recruits through basic training. You'll feel the extreme pressure put on the instructors to not only build Marines but to set examples for them. Their extreme fitness is a given but you'll also see how the recruits are immersed in Corps history, culture, ethics, pride, and togetherness in order to produce America's Marines. I bought this book for my grandson who's interested in becoming a Marine. This should clear his sinuses on what to expect!
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on April 1, 2014
I (like at least one other reviewer) read this book as an afterward to finishing Ricks' "The Generals." I wanted to validate 'him' and what he wrote by reading his words about the Corps. I am not a Marine but have been close friends with many, many. So i thought I might be able to see if Ricks' perspectives might be revealed by reading another work.

Certainly the content is aged and Ricks makes no bones about that fact. Just the 'Crucible' in and of itself. But he does continually (and properly IMHO) point out the concept of 'values', those of the Marines, Marines in making and civilians (society - something I'm very aware of having been in law enforcement and public service for a lengthy period). My own experiences with 'society' mirrors what Ricks states continually thru the book, that poor values, unstable values, "me-ism" values are at the core of current societal problems and that the Marine's effort is to install instead a 'service' based, brotherhood concept of honor, courage and commitment. A lofty goal.

Ricks' writings point to political failures in efforts to manage conflicts (he brings this up regularly in "The Generals" as it should be but is also strongly opposed to recent leadership during conservative presidencies - to be fair, he castigates Johnson during Vietnam as well) and such is the case in Iraq. Properly noted is the methods used to "win" in early Afghanistan (forms of counterinsurgency and embedding of smaller units seeking partnership with the oppressed, etc) and then the sudden (wrong in his opinion) shift to invading Iraq. Part of the book is a platform for his position on that subject (as was "The Generals" about WMD in Iraq) but overall he portrays the 'period' Parris Island experience ('period', as exampled by today's commander being a women and senior Sgt Major being black - a future alluded to in Making The Corps) politically neutral but with some strong admiration for the efforts made by the USMC.

In the 'recent' afterward it seems clear that he is saddened by the mentioned failures individually of those he covered in the early writings and happy at those who succeeded. Something, while intangible and hard to describe, that I "think" is present is the slight attitude of "it is what it is" about much of the outcome. That is also a common theme in today's social outlook with few "seeming" to comprehend that "what it is" is exactly what the majority 'allow' it to be... but perhaps I'm reading in.

One portion of the book, that which discusses the 'new' professional military, speaks of a civilian, military clash in the future due 'value' conflict or political decay (Constitutional departures, breakdown of the three tiered checks and balances system, financial calamity, so forth) and how the professional Marine Corps would (or would not) participate. Having lived thru the L.A riots of '92 (and knowing what sat down at El Toro awaiting 'the call.') it would seem that such is not farfetched! Given the current separations within America's electorate one might ascribe a bit of clairvoyance to Ricks.

This is a good read with much validity presented. Ricks' personal viewpoints are veiled but he has great insight into the military industry. Nothing is set in stone but the Corps Spirit is roundly applauded as are the 'good' results. One can only wish that such values where more common in society... Honor, Courage and Commitment!
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on August 7, 2017
Brilliant. Follows a platoon of Marine Corps recruits through their training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, and through several years beyond. This book is unique, although yes, it contains all the unusual, colorful things that the drill instructors impose on their recruits. The book covers the style of the DIs and the performance and perceptions of a number of the recruits. Some wash out of the program. Most graduate and go on to proud and productive Marine Corps service. The sad stories are those who are proud to graduate, but nonetheless who fail upon returning to civilian life.

The book has much text on how the Marine Corps and the Armed Forces in general differ so much from the days when the US had a draft. If you served in the Marine Corps as I did, you will enjoy this book, but find much interesting insight into the philosophy of recruit training - training you thought you understood, but did not.
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on December 28, 2016
Well written book that remains easy to read. Formatting on Kindle is sometimes a problem, often requiring you to return to your library and then re- open the book. This is well worth a read despite these detractors.

Very deep research was clearly performed during and after the writing of this book. It does get into some broad subject matter at times which detracts from the enjoyment of the core tale; unnecessarily in my opinion. If you've been there and own an EGA, it will certainly stir up your own personal memories of PI.
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on November 27, 2015
This book is a gold mine of information for one who wants to know what Marine Recruit training will be like. Sure things have changed some in the years since the 3086 went through, but the writing is timeless. If you want to know about training at PI then this is the book for you.
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on May 9, 2016
My son recently graduated from Marine boot camp and I read the book to get an idea of what he would face. Very interesting and at times there are some things that happened in the book that you hope are not happening now. I know that it is tough for a reason but some things were unnecessary. But from seeing my son now after boot camp he is truly a Marine.
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on October 28, 2015
I got this for my Sister right before going into the Marines. She said it REALLY helped her to know what to expect when she got there and really helped her deal with everything because she knew what would happen ahead of time. I would REALLY recommend this book for anyone going into the Marines!
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on January 13, 2012
This is like getting real-time reports from the front, before the fronts are developed.

I originally got this because I know someone who will probably be going to boot camp this year. I was interested in what it's like, although I'd heard bits and pieces from previous recruits.

The detail of the tasks and day-to-day and week-to-week was really good. I felt like it was my personal diary in the making. The chapters are divided along the various stages, which almost is a week-to-week thing.

There's some historical information thrown in, which adds spice without making it into a history lesson. The later edition did add some new information. More geared toward the state of the Corps than any real changes in the boot camp portion.

Definitely recommended for any recruit trying to get into the Corps, highly recommended for anyone that knows someone attempting the feat, and still recommended for others wondering what boot camp is like.
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on July 23, 2010
I am very grateful for Thomas Ricks's research and his clear and interesting writing style. Mr. Ricks provided me with the window into the Marine Corps that I longed for, ever since my young son announced his decision to become a Marine.

Not knowing anything about the inner workings of the military, I can't vouch for the accuracy of the information in this book. However, assuming that Ricks provides an accurate picture, Making the Corps gives the newcomer an excellent introduction to both positive and negative aspects of the USMC boot camp and MOS school experiences.

One caveat: many of the changes in training which were being considered by the Corps at the time of publication have now been implemented, which makes Making the Corps outdated in a few areas. However, great benefit still exists for the reader who wants to better understand the Corps, its purpose and its values. I now feel greater peace with my son's decision and believe he will be in good hands.

For a more recent and excellent description of Marine Corps basic training and MOS school through the eyes of one recruit, read Keeping Faith by the father-son team of Frank and John Schaeffer. It's very moving, insightful and more personal than Making the Corps, but doesn't make any attempt to evaluate the Corps as a whole entity. Both books, taken together, give a well-rounded picture.
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