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Semper Fi (The Corps #1)

4.25  ·  Rating Details ·  5,947 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
From Shanghai to WAke Island, the Corps was America's first line of defense as the winds of war exploded into the devastating surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Now, the bestselling author of the acclaimed BROTHERHOOD OF WAR saga brings to life the men of the Marine Corps--their loves and their loyalties--as they steeled themselves for battle, and prepared to make the ultima ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published November 1st 1986 by G.P. Putnam's Sons (first published January 1986)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Freda Malone
Oct 30, 2015 Freda Malone rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Semper Fi is a hard core military thriller that takes you all the way back to 1941 up until the bombing of Pearl Harbor. One man, Kenneth McCoy is the focus of this story as a ‘China Marine’ stationed in Shanghai undercover manning transports throughout the small villages gathering intel. McCoy has made some enemies with high ranking officials but as he is vindicated of several international incidents, he is also moving up in ranks.

You’ll meet all sorts of types in this first book in the series
Mar 02, 2010 Kevin rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History buffs, War nuts, anyone who just loves a good story!
W.E.B. Griffin's "The Corps" series are not simply books about war. The war is a backdrop for vignette's about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. His characters are detailed, living, breathing, flawed creatures... just like you and I.

Book 1 "Semper Fi" follows Ken J. 'Killer' McCoy. It is just before America gets involved in WWII and follows through the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the fall of Wake Island (Phillipines). McCoy is a 'China Marine' or a Marine stationed in Shanghai Chi
Sep 04, 2015 Mike rated it it was ok
Well I was very surprised by this book. The book has received countless four and five star reviews and I thought I would love it. Historical fiction about marines in the lead up to World War II? How could a guy like me not love it?

I am so disappointed by this book. I am not one of the people on these sites that finds incredibly popular books and rips them to be contrarian. I usually fall in with the masses. This book is the great exception to that rule.

First of all, there is little to no action
Ron Hartley
Sep 04, 2013 Ron Hartley rated it liked it
Griffin is an excellent writer when it comes to Historical Fiction. His books are more character driven than action driven. Sad to say, he does use some profanity, but it doesn't seem to be for shock value like some authors do. These are military men in dangerous situations and occasional bad language comes out their mouths.

Like most of his main characters, in the first book the hero bounces from woman to woman until he meets his one true love and becomes a one woman man.

The conversations are cr
Bob Conner
Mar 23, 2015 Bob Conner rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military-war
I fell in love with Griffin's series about the Corps and have read all his awesome works. I can't recall reading a more engaging series with characters all so rich and colorful each of them could be an awesome novel of their own. But Griffin smashes them all together into one nuclear story.

Amazingly colorful characters - Kenneth "Killer" Kelley and his gorgeous wife Ernestine Sage, Jack "NMI" Stecker, Pick Pickering, Sgt Zimmerman, etc....... The list just goes on and on and they never lose thei
Shannon C.
Apr 17, 2010 Shannon C. rated it really liked it
I love WEB Griffin's books. Not only are they amazing historicals, they have great character development, lots of action and adventure and a bit of romance. My grandfather was career military, a retired Maj Gen in the Marines. I especially enjoyed reading this series as it made me feel closer to him and what he went through, following his death.

If you don't want to read about military men, he also has a very good police procedural series Badge of Honor.
Jake Kline
Oct 24, 2011 Jake Kline rated it it was amazing
Surprisingly enough, though WEB Griffin is a prolific author, with more than 6 major series and 100 books (under a variety of pseudonyms), The Corps series is the only one I ever really got into. The characters somehow got under my skin and I couldn't help but empathize with them when they got into trouble or were in danger of being killed. This was an excellent book and a great introduction to one of my favorite series of all time.
Alec Sutherland
Feb 02, 2015 Alec Sutherland rated it liked it
WEB Griffin's "Semper Fi" is an okay read. The reason for this is the implication however realistic of sexual immorality in the missionaries in China of a Methodist persuasion. I am a christian my self although not a Methodist so I do not take kindly to that sort of story line. Also I do not like to read about sexual immorality period but I can live with the innuendo as it applies to military and non saved people as an accurate depiction of the world in general and, in this case, the Marine Corp ...more
Bunny Maurer
Mar 12, 2011 Bunny Maurer rated it really liked it
I gave this a 4 only because I love Griffin's explanations of the training, weapons, customs of the Marine Corps and I love WWII books. But most of the characters are rich except the main character and they all fall in love a minute after meeting and go to bed in 2 minutes after meeting.

This is a series of 5 books and I'm going to read all five but jump over the sophmoric love interests.
Michael Flores
Feb 16, 2013 Michael Flores rated it really liked it
Entertaining and technical read. I say technical, because the amount of detail given to the make and model and rank of every character and gun and vehicle is a bit distracting, although I’m a sucker for things like that. Formulaic and troubled heroes, but likeable as they fight through daunting odds to achieve freedom.
Michael Nash
Jul 18, 2014 Michael Nash rated it liked it
W. E. B. Griffin's Marine Corp series is straight-up wish fulfillment. It follows a devastatingly handsome and competent Marine Corporal as he Mary Sue's his way through the military hierarchy of 1941 Shanghai and then the world, sleeping with beautiful women and engaging in amazing feats of marshal prowess as he goes. The story moves forward primarily through the use of idiot plot (the main character's superiors always refuse to listen to his completely reasonable advice for NO REASON, and then ...more
Oct 04, 2016 Terri rated it it was amazing
So That's Where Dad Got That Saying (Audiobook)
I picked this book up in one of the many sales Audible has during the year mainly because I thoroughly enjoyed the Presidential Agent Series by the same author. I didn’t want to put it down (figuratively, actually I didn’t want to remove the earphones). The next book in the Corps series was being purchased before the one prior ended.

This series inserts several fictional characters in the middle of historical events & people. My dad & his bro
Feb 27, 2014 Bill rated it it was ok
I read this and several others in his multiple series's back in the mid-late 80's as they came out and remember them as good diversionary reading so when I had need of something for audiobook content I bought the first 3 books in "The Corp" series. I'm finding the overall storyline weak and not as well written as my recalled first read through. As best I can guess when READING I was able to 'skip ahead' through a lot of the repetitive descriptions and plot point rehashes where as as a listener I ...more
Kaye Stambaugh
Sep 20, 2014 Kaye Stambaugh rated it liked it
"He realized that his heart was throbbing. Like the water hose on a Browning .30." And that is how you know you're reading a love scene from a military genre series! I wasn't sure I'd stick with this since women are merely a means for Marines to "get their ashes hauled". Although not familiar with that phrase, plenty of hauling of ashes takes place thus the phrase becomes quite clear. Apparently all women are hankering for Marines, according to the story. Older women, virginal women, missionarie ...more
J.W. Thompson
Dec 30, 2009 J.W. Thompson rated it it was amazing
This was the first book I read by this author. I am a Marine Veteran and found it very entertaining. His writing style hooked me and I have read every book he has published. I read this one many years ago
James Yaklin
Mar 13, 2015 James Yaklin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Dry as Death Valley

Clearly the sole purpose of this book is to sell other books. There is absolutely no plot, no story contained between these book covers.

The book does nothing but introduce a set of characters and provide background for the series of books. That being said the book moves entirely too fast through what little story there is.

Further, and I understand the book is about a bunch of marines, the dialog relies entirely too much on f-bombs. Given the subject of the characters I'm wil
Jim A
May 06, 2012 Jim A rated it it was amazing
A re-read for me. I first read this maybe 20-25 years ago.

One of W.E.B. Griffin's better series, following members of the Marine Corps during WW II.
Lee Franke
Jul 09, 2014 Lee Franke rated it really liked it
Best book in the series. Really starts the entire series off on the right foot.
Joseph Golias
Nov 19, 2014 Joseph Golias rated it it was ok
While the parts dealing with the minutia of military life are indeed fascinating, the characters behavior come across as stilted and somewhat one-dimensional. As a narrative the book has some exciting moments, and the main protagonist is likeable, unfortunately the romantic relationships are juvinile, and quite frankly smack of something read in the forum section of a gentlemen's magazine. That all said, this first novel can be a guilty pleasure read, just don't expect that to be able to justify ...more
Jan 25, 2016 Nolan rated it it was ok
Shelves: nls-audio
I suspect this series gets better, but the first book seems like a trailer for something that comes out soon.

Ken McCoy is a street-smart young man who has entered the marines partially to escape the horrors of his life at home with a hypocritical abusive father. He is assigned to China in the late 1930s where he learns both Chinese and Japanese, and he employs his street smarts to get connected both to Shanghai's police force and its gambling factions. Indeed, he ultimately makes a good bit of
Nov 02, 2007 Michael rated it it was amazing
My first experience in reading Griffin’s work was actually in reading his Brotherhood of War series from end to end. I thought perhaps that I had read the crown jewel of his efforts, but I was sorely mistaken. Semper Fi kicks off a series that I found to be far superior to the Brotherhood of War, and what I consider to be Griffin’s best work to date.
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It’s January, 1941, and Private First Class Kenneth McCoy finds himself on the precipice of promotion to Corp
Brett Tompkins
Dec 05, 2011 Brett Tompkins rated it it was amazing
People have been handing me Griffin books for years now, but I was intent on reading a 'book one' regardless of the series. I finally came across The Corps Book One and dove in, curious as to what Griffin is all about. I was pleasantly surprised. I was worried that, as a historical novel, it would be so full of facts and technical information, that it would be boring and hard to get through. I was absolutely wrong and could not read this book fast enough. Instead of a continuous onslaught of his ...more
Aug 08, 2010 Bjoern rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010-reads, military
Somehow refreshing variant on the typical ultrapatriotic Marine-Stories and World War historical novels.

E.g. does the author skip most of the cliché-ladden stuff from basic training (a little bit of it returns with the "platoon leader programme") to start at an more interesting point of this marines personal life...
All in all ther ARE some "stu"ish scenes where the protagonist seems to be blessed too much to be true, but in the whole context of the story those moments are few and far between, so
Jun 07, 2013 Will rated it really liked it
Shelves: military-action
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 06, 2008 CLM rated it really liked it
It's hard to explain why I am obsessed with WEB Griffin's books because the male characters are insufferably arrogant, the women characters either madonnas or whores (usually whores), and the language is foul. However, while I was working at Putnam Berkley, I picked this first in the series up one night when I needed something to read on the subway, and was up until 3 am devouring it. Griffin really captures the essence of men at war, and I particularly enjoy his characterizations of real people ...more
Nov 14, 2009 Paul rated it it was amazing
Was a great read....was interesting to see how Griffin tells a story from the WWII era.....the first series I read of his was from the present day. As always his books are fun to read and you never want to put them down. Can't wait for the 2nd one to arrive at the library.

One other thought on Griffin, I am now going between books from Griffin and Brad Thor.....the one thing I see that makes all the Griffin books stand out is the amount of detail and character information you get. You feel as if
Nick Brett
Mar 07, 2013 Nick Brett rated it it was ok
An odd little number this one - with a title of "Semper Fi" and describing itself as " a novel of the corps" you might expect a chunk of WW2 marine action, but you would be wrong. This is about a smart young private/corporal whose wits get him into field intelligence in China in 1941. McCoy is a little too good to be true, a linguist, street smart and wise beyond his young years. And Semper Fi is McCoy's tale set within the environment of a US not yet at war with Japan and the book ends just aft ...more
Sep 12, 2016 Michael rated it really liked it
A fun story of a young marine right before the US enters WW2.

Note, this series does not follow one specific character. The first 4 books seem to be based around introducing the characters. Also the end of one book may be set at a date that is after the date being used in the beginning of the next one in the series.
Glen Wiley
Feb 10, 2016 Glen Wiley rated it really liked it
I reread Griffin's book series every couple of years and believe the Corps series to be one of his best. Sempre Fi is a introduces some really good characters that carry the reader through the story of the Marine Corp during WWII. Kennett J McCoy is one of my favorite characters in fictional military history genre.
Feb 27, 2016 Shubho rated it it was ok
Did not enjoy as much as I thought given the high ratings ... the book is good in parts but did not really hook me in. The books is about characters and in a way not very "military: heavy - but the characters (particularly the female ones) are not very well developed.
I will probably go back for one more just in case I was wrong ... since the ratings are really high.
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W.E.B. Griffin is one of several pseudonyms for William E. Butterworth III.

From the Authors Website:

W.E.B. Griffin is the #1 best-selling author of more than fifty epic novels in seven series, all of which have made The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, and other best-seller lists. More than fifty million of the books are in print in more than ten languages, including Heb
More about W.E.B. Griffin...

Other Books in the Series

The Corps (10 books)
  • Call To Arms (The Corps, #2)
  • Counterattack (The Corps, #3)
  • Battleground (The Corps, #4)
  • Line of Fire (The Corps, #5)
  • Close Combat (The Corps, #6)
  • Behind the Lines (The Corps, #7)
  • In Danger's Path (The Corps, #8)
  • Under Fire (The Corps, #9)
  • Retreat, Hell! (The Corps, #10)

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“And it also says, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,’” McCoy said. “And that ‘he who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.” 0 likes
“Gentlemen,” he said. “The Marine Corps loves you. Because the Marine Corps loves you, it has gone to considerable effort and expense to provide you with a healthy, nutritious breakfast. The Marine Corps expects you to eat the healthy, nutritious breakfast it has provided for you.” 0 likes
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