Absolutely American : four years at West Point

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Notes on front and back endpapers explain how this book came to be written, and record some of the changes that have occurred in the military since the end of World War II: the number of Americans serving in the military has decreased from 1 in 10 to 1 in 300; in the past decade 27 army deployments took place compared to only 10 in the previous 4 1/2 decades; women were admitted to West Point in 1976, and in 1998 the practice of hazing was abolished. Other notes refer to the honor code - in a typical year there are roughly 100 violations of it - the terms that are used for cadets in different years, the regulations regarding sex and drugs, a description of R-Day - Reception Day-; Wolfowitz' speech about surprise at the 2001 graduation, and the impact of 9/11 on West Point. Also included in the notes are these questions: "Did you travel with cadets to their homes, new bases etc.?" - "What's a TAC?" - "Cadets are happier than anywhere else?" - "Dating - what are the rules?" - "West Point builds itself as [a] "tier one" school, on the same plane as Ivies." - "How did you get the dialogue between two cadets?" - "What does it mean to see the elephant?" - "Who moved the cheese? - Gen. Shinseki purchased copies in bulk." - "4 rules to platoon at Ft. Drum: 1) integrity, 2) don't sell out, 3) don't point fingers, 4) don't hit children and wives." - Annotations by Brian Lamb in the margins and underlining of pertinent phrases throughout the book. -- Examples: p. 57: "I grew up with the luxury of a volunteer Army; service was something other people did. So I've never felt anything like the military brotherhood that took over Washington Hall 5401 during post selection; it seemed about as admirable a feeling as a country could produce." -- p. 141: "50,000 high school juniors, 12,000 complete application, 6,000 make it to physical aptitude, 4,000 nominated by congressmen - 10 to 1 competition, 2,000 are pronounced qualified for admission, 1,200 get offers, 1,000 will graduate." -- p. 242: "Surprise is good when the other guy can't deal with it. Let us try never to be that other guy. A century ago, on a peaceful day in 1903, with great foresight, the secretary of war told Douglas MacArthur's class, "Before you leave the Army ... you will be engaged in another war. It is bound to come, and will come...Be prepared to be surprised...Have courage." -- p. 311: "Once an Eagle" - gift to Huck from Major Vermeesch, next to Bible the best book ever written."


Lipsky, David, “Absolutely American : four years at West Point,” One Book. One Author. One Hour., accessed December 13, 2019, http://booknotes.gmu.edu/items/show/618.


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Absolutely American : four years at West Point


Lipsky, David


Program air date: August 17, 2003


Drawing on complete, unprecedented access to West Point and its cadets, David Lipsky explores the academy's rich history, describes the demanding regimen that swallows students' days, and examines the Point as a reflection of our society. Is it a quaint anachronism, or does it still embody the ideals of equality, honesty, and loyalty that moved Theodore Roosevelt to proclaim it the most "absolutely American" institution? Lipsky tackles these questions through superbly crafted portraits of cadets and the elite officers who mold them, following them into classrooms, barracks, mess halls, and military exercises. His reportage extends from 1998 through 2002, arguably the most eventful four years in West Point history. He witnesses the end of hazing, the arrival of TV and telephones in dorm rooms, the exposure and concealment of several scandals, and the dramatic aftermath of 9/11. He depicts young people of every race and class, and details a rigorous training program that erases their preconceptions and makes them a tight-knit community.


"United States Military Academy--History."


Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection
Gift of Brian Lamb, 2011.


Houghton Mifflin
George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives


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