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Making the Corps: 10th Anniversary Edition with a New Afterword by the Author [Paperback]

Thomas E. Ricks
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
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Book Description

July 31 2007
The bestselling, compelling insider’s account of the Marine Corps from the lives of the men of Platoon 3086—their training at Parris Island, their fierce camaraderie, and the unique code of honor that defines them.

The United States Marine Corps, with its proud tradition of excellence in combat, its hallowed rituals, and its unbending code of honor, is part of the fabric of American myth. Making the Corps visits the front lines of boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina. Here, old values are stripped away and new Marine Corps values are forged. Bestselling author Thomas E. Ricks follows these men from their hometowns, through boot camp, and into their first year as Marines. As three fierce drill instructors fight a battle for the hearts and minds of this unforgettable group of young men, a larger picture emerges, brilliantly painted, of the growing gulf that divides the military from the rest of America.

Included in this edition is an all-new afterword from the author that examines the war in Iraq through the lens of the Marines from Platoon 3086, giving readers an on-the-ground view of the conflict from those who know it best.

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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The few, the proud... Nov. 24 2005
Thomas Ricks' Making the Corps is one of the best books on today's Marine Corps available. The book looks at the Corps from the perspective of following a cohort of recruits through book camp on Parris Island. As the subtitle, one of the longest I have ever seen on a non-academic book (and longer, indeed, than most of those), boot camp is difficult, but is also reflective of America in general. 'Sixty-three men came to Parris Island to become Marines. Not all of them made it. This is the story of boot camp Platoon 3086, the Marine Corps, and America.' There is a lot in that statement, `not all of them made it'. Boot camp in most military services has an element of winnowing and removing those unable to work and cope in the military environment. Often this is a matter of mental strength and maturity more than it is a physical inability.
Ricks followed the crew of Platoon 3086 very closely. He did not change the names. He did not whitewash the situations. He followed them personally, but also incorporated pieces of information from official logs and follow-up evaluations. For all the mystery that seems to surround the Corps, it is a remarkably open organisation, and in many ways is like a Hollywood personality in search of a camera and the spotlight. Marines don't mind being in the spotlight. On the other hand, Marines strive to work as a team, so the stars of this book are, in reality, not the individuals, but the platoon, the Drill Instructors, and the Marine Corps itself. The story of Platoon 3086 could be repeated over and over. More than one million men and women have gone through Parris Island to become Marines. MCRD San Diego likewise turns out thousands per year.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Some strange blindspots Jan. 16 2004
Thomas Ricks' "Making the Corps" is a fascinating but also frustrating book.
On the fascinating side, it's a human interest exploration of what it means to make it through book camp. Ricks follows the recruits of Platoon 3086 through their basic training ordeal, recounting the daily routine in the life of the average grunt recruit. That part of the story is pretty familiar to most everyone--to those of us who went through basic training ourselves, and also to those who've never been in the military but who have seen the million-and-one Hollywood movies with boot camp scenes in them. Familiar as the story is, however, Ricks telling of it is gripping. He's a good writer, and knows how to capture a reader's interest.
The frustrating aspect of the book is the fact that Ricks never asks, much less answers, any of the very obvious and crucial questions his account naturally suggests. Had he done so, his book would've been more than merely a journalist's story about boot camp. It would've been a real contribution to our understanding of American culture. For make no mistake about it: the very existence of the Corps is a prism through which to observe and learn things about America that go far beyond just the military.
Let me cite just two examples of where Ricks fails to reflect on what he's witnessing.
On pp. 116-119, Ricks describes a typical Sunday morning chapel call. All of us remember them; they were routine. Some of us took them seriously, most of us probably didn't. We were just relieved for the break. Now, in the Parris Island chapel, there's a stained glass window, described by Ricks, which depicts "a Marine flamethrower, his weapon's flames billowing out in a red, organce, and yellow mass.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Proud to be a U.S. Marine Dec 22 2003
I have read this book and was rather intrigued and disappointed in it. The author comes out strong in discussing what the Marine Corps Boot Camp is all about then the jumps from one subject to another which makes the book disorientating.
This would have been a great book if he started out with the beginning process of how the recruit is recruited and then begins his long journey into the Marine Corps. The trials and errors of each different type of recruit could be discussed.
I found it rather confusing to know what had happened with one recruit because too many references to other recruits were discussed at the same time. If he was to write about Marine Corps Boot Camp from the prespective of an outsider looking in, then he needs to write the entire process. So much of what actually happens in it was tainted by the political values of society. That should have been placed in a different book. He jumps from one subject to another and then back to the recruits lives.
What was disappointing was telling the readers that this recruit did not make it but then left it up in the air to discuss briefly in other chapters and then finally in the later chapters. There was no discussion about the training itself. For any Marine who has been through this training, we all know that it isn't just briefly touched on. So much happens when you go through it that are not even told in this book.
The Marine Corps is ever changing and he does touch briefly what happens in the Fleet and what the aftermath of the duty stations are like, but he make the Fleet look bad in certain aspects which unfortunately is true but not all experiences are the same. Only a few make it bad. What he did not touch upon is that the every Marine went through different changes in boot camp.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Three month review
Look...Ricks attempted to give the Corps more respect yet what we all must understand is that he is/was a journalist and would not bite the hand that feeds him (the military... Read more
Published on Feb. 9 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars SEMPER FI
Making the corps is the best marine book that i have ever read. im a high school student and im deciding if i want to go to the marines and this book help me decide that i want to... Read more
Published on Dec 11 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Example of Marine Corps Recruit Training
This book is an absolute necessity for anyone who is even in the slightest bit interested in enlisting in the corps, or learning about the Marine Corps Recruit Depot (MCRD) at... Read more
Published on Aug. 10 2003 by "-usmc-"
5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgic
This book truly brought back so many memories of what it was like going through Marine Corps Boot Camp (one of the toughest in the world, I might add). Read more
Published on July 25 2003 by Angel Mendez Jr.
4.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful look at the Marine Corps
I enjoyed this book's descriptions of Marine Corps Boot Camp, but had a little more trouble with the author's analysis. Read more
Published on July 22 2003 by Richard J. Elgie Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars The few, the proud...
Thomas Ricks' Making the Corps is one of the best books on today's Marine Corps available. The book looks at the Corps from the perspective of following a cohort of recruits... Read more
Published on July 21 2003 by FrKurt Messick
5.0 out of 5 stars A good picture
This book give you a good picture of life in boot camp or MCRD Parris Island. The author Ricks follows a platoon through most of their training. Read more
Published on July 12 2003 by xmarine
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly entertaining and well balanced
Making the Corps is a fair and realistic documentary about the bootcamp experience of platoon 3086 on Parris Island. Read more
Published on July 10 2003 by bcf
4.0 out of 5 stars Aight
THis book excels in vividy describing the marine basic training at parris island. the only thing i didnt like about it was that sometimes when it was halfway through a chapter it... Read more
Published on June 13 2003 by carter ramsey
5.0 out of 5 stars MAKING THE CORPS by: Thomas Ricks
This very well written, and very fun book to read for all us U.S.M.C fans!
Published on May 31 2003
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