Any book or DVD recommendations for West Point?

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by Maximus, Mar 13, 2009.

  1. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    We're looking for anything interesting on the Academy. We've purchased and watched NG's "Surviving West Point", and we both read the book "Absolutely American", anyone have any other suggestions?

    Thanks.
     
  2. marciemi

    marciemi USMA Alumnus

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    I found "Battle Dress" by Amy Efaw to be the most realistic portrayal of Beast that I've read, albeit from a bit of a female perspective. She was in the class after mine, and everything I read was just exactly what I experienced. Now that was 25 years ago, but I've heard from people even at the academy now saying that it gives you a good representation, and is an easy, fun read.

    Another book by a cadet I knew at WP, "A Matter of Trust", by Mark Vakkur, is more a story of what can happen when there is too much stress, when it's someone with too much power. This one is a bit far-fetched, but many of the portrayals of cadet life are accurate, and I think anyone who had attended there would have known at least one cadet that they could see resulting in this story!

    And of course a classic is "Dress Grey" by Lucian Truscott. This takes place during Vietnam, and is a much more serious book, but it also gives some good background to the history of life at the academy over the past decades.

    Finally, I just read "In the Men's House" by Carol Barkalow. This is basically the story of the first female class at West Point, but again it gives you insights into how women played into the history of the academy, as well as glimpses into academy life.

    I'd consider the first book much more of a must read in preparation. I know I read everything out there before I went, and was always looking for more. Even if your son doesn't want to read them, you might enjoy them all even after he's gone (to keep in the same mindset).

    One book I'd have to recommend against was called "Understanding West Point: What Cadets must do at West Point and Why" by Norman Remick. I thought it would be very informative, and it had good reviews, so I bought it for my husband recently. We both just couldn't get through it since it focuses much more on historical events during Jefferson's time, rather than anything recent. I guess if you're a big history buff it might be interesting, but it certainly wasn't practical. Just didn't want you to go buy it on Amazon like I did expecting something entirely different!

    The other more recent option would just be to do youtube searches for Beast, R-day, cadet life, spirit missions, things like that. You could literally spend a whole weekend watching all the videos that are out there. That's what we did to find out about SLS this summer. My son wasn't sure he would fit it in (he's also doing Navy and AF's summer seminars), but after watching all the clips, he decided he really wanted to go there and experience all the cool things they did.

    Good luck!
     
  3. marciemi

    marciemi USMA Alumnus

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    Oh, one more in terms of DVD's. You can get the History Channel's "Modern Marvels: West Point" at Amazon, which is more of an overall perspective and interesting to watch.
     
  4. Mom1655

    Mom1655 Member

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    There's a good thread going on the Off Topic board titled "Good Reads"; there are a lot of recommendations on books related to the military in general, as well as a number specifically about the West Point experience.

    http://www.serviceacademyforums.com/showthread.php?t=4915

    Also, here's another thread that lists some good books to check out:

    http://www.serviceacademyforums.com/showthread.php?t=1117&highlight=books

    Personally, I haven't seen the NG one yet, but Absolutely American has made its rounds through the whole family...In case anyone's interested, you can even get it in a large print edition on Amazon--now my father's reading it, too!:smile:
     
  5. Aspen

    Aspen Member

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    If you want a candid, entertaining and well written inside view of West Point during a Cadet's final two years at USMA, I highly recommend reading the personal journal posted by 1LT THOMAS M. MARTIN, a 2005 graduate. It includes a discusion of daily life at USMA and some great pictures. The site also includes his journal from Ranger school and his deployment to Iraq.

    You can find the journal at:

    http://www.tommym1080.com


    WARNING: In addition to links to his journals, the site will also contains a link to 1LT Martin's eulogy page. He made the ultimate sacrifice and was killed in Iraq in October 2007. I don't want you to go the page unprepared.
     
  6. sterlingmom

    sterlingmom Member

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    The Unforgiving Minute by Craig Mullaney is good too.
     
  7. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    Read "Duty First" by Ed Ruggero. I liked this book much better than "Absolutely American". It gives and excellent - though somewhat dated description of Beast (there have been some changes) and describes the Fourth Class system and leadership development.

    History buffs would probably enjoy "The Long Gray Line" about the class of 1966.
     
  8. knordski

    knordski Member

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    1LT Martin's Journal

    I've spent the last two days reading every last bit of 1LT Martin's journal...nothing short of incredible. I've read Absolutely American and Duty First as well but this was an even better glimpse into life as a cadet and newly commissioned officer.

    I highly recommend this site to anyone considering USMA, or any branch of service for that matter. There are countless pictures and videos about everything from football games to Sandhurst to walking hours and graduation. 1LT Martin must have spent a lot of time on this and his effort shows. His attitude and "when I am commandant" comments are a laugh, and he writes about the tougher times as well.

    Had I read through all of it without knowing what would happen in the end would have shocked me. His death brought me that much closer to the reality of what serving our nation entails and he will certainly serve as inspiration to me in the coming years.

    :usa:
     
  9. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    LT Martin's journal is incredible. Thanks for the link.
     
  10. Emsa

    Emsa Member

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    Wow that is increadably powerful, I read the whole journal and then saw the memorial page, bit blown away by it. Doesnt seem to be the practice here like it is on CC to mark the deaths of grads in action but its a poignent reminder of the sacrifice that SA grads, particularly USMA grads have made in the last few years.

    RIP 1LT Martin
     
  11. sterlingmom

    sterlingmom Member

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    We just finished watching the PBS Video: WEST POINT The First 200 Years. It's very good if you are interested in the history of the academy.
     
  12. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    In recent weeks two more young USMA grads have given the ultimate sacrifice. The latest being Lt Daniel Hyde a 2007 graduate:
    http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090311/NEWS/90311048

    As a parent, I "get it" but don't really like to think about it too much. My cadet doesn't discuss it - I think it is something they keep within The Corps.
    They clearly are aware. West Point doesn't shy away - all deaths are noted by the First Captain during the first mandatory meal after notification. There are taps vigils that most cadets attend.
    Parents are notified through the West Point parent forum as well.
    The tough ones are the young ones - who the upperclass cadets knew as cadets.


    "And When Our Work is Done,
    Our Course on Earth is Run,
    May it be said: "Well done:
    Be Thou at Peace".
     
  13. AMI123

    AMI123 Member

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    An excellent DVD is National Geographic's "Surviving West Point"
    I believe it was done in 2001/2002
     
  14. Mindy G

    Mindy G Member

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    Must Read

    Even though not ARMY everyone must read Lone Survivor by Mark Luttrell (I hope I have the spelling right)
     
  15. jbrown

    jbrown Member

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    The spelling is almost right. He goes by Mark, but his name is Marcus. Petty Officer First Class Luttrell.

    What a sad story. The guy is riddled with guilt for a decision he made, that was the right decision, but nonetheless haunts him.

    I haven't read his book, but I saw him interviewed and my gut sank when I heard him say how guilty he feels for how he voted.

    JB
     
  16. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    We saw that one and it was great!
     
  17. Maximus

    Maximus Member

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    Sounds like a good book with that review, I'll have to order that.
    My son is stacked up on required read at this point lol
     
  18. jbrown

    jbrown Member

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    Basically a 4 man SEAL team dropped into Afghanistan with the mission to capture a high profile target.

    They were spotted by unarmed villagers, and they took a vote on what to do.

    1 Vote - Kill them
    1 Vote - Let them go, they are innocent
    1 - refuse to vote.

    PO1 Luttrell has to cast the tie breaker. He votes to let them go, they are innocent.

    A few moments later they are attacked by over 100 enemy fighters. Yep 100 to 4.

    The LT needs to get into the open to get a signal to call for help, and dies in the process. Awarded MOH for his Heroism if I recall correctly.

    They all died except for Luttrell, he's the sole survivor and is struggling with his vote to let the civilians go. Could have killed them and saved his buddies, or let them go and lose his buddies. Tough spot.

    He's been out on the talk circuit and also on youtube, etc.

    This is off of memory, but I think I have it correct. Like I said, I haven't read the book but saw an interview some time back and found it moving.

    JB
     
  19. jbrown

    jbrown Member

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  20. buff81

    buff81 Moderator

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    Would like to know some opinions out there about future cadets knowing maybe a little too much about what happens at Beast. Would love to have son read some of these books, but then again, I feel that Beast should be experienced personally without any knowledge about what to expect. Is it comforting to know some of what Beast is like ? Or is it best to go into it with a clear mind?
     

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