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Making the Corps

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  1,298 ratings  ·  97 reviews
In the tradition of A Long Gray Line and Friday Night Lights, Making the Corps chronicles the powerful forces that transform a group of raw recruits from wildly different backgrounds into a single unit of fiercely proud Marines.Boot camp, says one Parris Island drill instructor, is a kind of war. The enemy: selfish, un-Marine-like values that Marine recruits bring with the ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published November 1st 1997 by Scribner Book Company (first published 1997)
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Chris Linzey
This book was simply "ok". There were moments when I thought, "This book is good." Those moments vanished too quickly. Ricks is a fine writer when he is telling the stories of the Marines - their lives before, during, and after Basic Training. Too frequently the author jumps on little rabbit trails and delves into the world of politics, military strategies, and outright comparison of the different services.

He is clearly biased towards the Marine Corps and says some things that are not only unfl
This book was truly amazing for me. My mom gave it to my dad for Christmas, and he read it in less than two days. It's the first non-firefighting education-related or Mason-related book he's read since a true account of one of the FDNY units that responded first to 9/ll. I picked up the book after coming back from vacation, and it's given me extra insight to my father's military career, and especially his boot camp experience, which is kind of the only part of his past he doesn't ever talk about ...more
I don't know much about the military, but I'm curious and wanted to know more about it so I read this book. It was a really interesting account of a platoon's experience in Marine boot camp, also filled with broader discussion about the role of the military and Marines in particular. I feel like I have a much better understanding of the Marines now, although this book is a little outdated now. It was written in the mid 1990s so a lot of the author's conclusions/musings felt inapplicable given ho ...more
When I was in college my dad was stationed at the US Embassy in Cairo and the Marine Security Guards posted there became dear friends of mine. One of them recommended this book to me as a pretty good representation of what USMC basic training is all about. I don't remember details, but I remember finding it to be a good and entertaining read. As a military child myself, I've always had respect and admiration for the training these men and women undertake and the oaths they take to protect. This ...more
I went to MCRD San Diego 9-1-54. Things were a lot different back then. We had one black kid and about 6 Latinos. No one with a police record of any kind was allowed in then. Boot camp was 10 weeks which included 2 weeks at camp Mathews, the rifle range. After 20 days leave EVERYONE went to camp Pendleton, tent camp 2, for advanced infantry training which lasted about two months. From there we were sent to Staging Regiment, main side Pendleton, and about two weeks later we were on a ship bound f ...more
Melissa Metzgar
For my senior English class, I was instructed to pick a narrative to read, and so I picked Thomas E. Ricks’ Making the Corps. The reason behind me choosing this book was because my older brother is a Marine, and before he left for bootcamp in 2013 he read it and ever since he has been pushing me to read it because he enjoyed it so much. The book is about a reporter who follows a platoon through their endeavours during boot camp at Parris Island. Even though I am not a Marine and don’t have plan ...more
Making the Corps did some things excellent and others not so much. The majority of the book follows Platoon 3086 through their grueling training at Parris Island, SC USMC boot camp. The descriptions of what the men went through, as well as the recruits and DI's personal accounts were excellent. It's only when the author goes on these tangents of long drawn out descriptions of various topics that were brought up from the training. The book was easily a 4-star read from me up until the "new" after ...more
Before you give this book a read, you should note the publication date. Lots has changed in the nearly two decades since it came out. Also, the author clearly has a bias for the Marines, so if your backbone is not straight enough to handle criticism of the other services, you’re going to hate this biographical account.

The story is of Platoon 3086 and their transformation from the moment they step off the bus in the middle of the night to graduation day and the first year beyond. Naturally, Ricks
John Dennehy
A gripping journey through the process of becoming a U.S. Marine. The book is written by a mature journalist- an outsider- who objectively provides an account of recruit training at Parris Island, SC- known as "The Cradle of the Corps". Ricks opens the book by showing why he chose to follow a platoon through Marine boot camp. He reflects upon a career as a journalist working around the U.S. military on missions. Taken by the confidence in young Marines, and the autonomy provided to the young war ...more
Joseph Stieb
Although it's dated in some ways, I thought this was a fascinating book. Ricks blends two stories together. First, he follows the entire process of one platoon becoming Marines from their decisions to sign up through their training and on to their first deployments. Second, he explains the culture and recent history of the Corps. The first part was interesting because everyone likes reading about military training, especially for the rough and ready Marines. However, the second part really made ...more
I went thru Boot Camp in 1967 Platoon 3006. Thirty years later I read this book about Platoon 3086. I am sadden by the lack of values and morals of the young men coming into platoon 3086....but am happy that the Marine Corps now teaches them the Values of the Corps and they understood how important those values are and how lacking they are in todays society. I will always be a Marine...God Bless those young men and the Marine Corps.
Charles Franklin
"Making the Corps" is a great story of transformation. It covers the 13-week transformation of young males into Marines. Ricks does an excellent job of not just portraying the transformation of these young men, but how that transformation reflects the Marine way of life as a whole. The book doesn't focus a lot of time on the physical aspects (although it is covered pretty well), but on the mental and emotional changes that occur and how the Marines facilitate that change. For example, Ricks expl ...more
Since my son is currently in Marine boot camp this was both disturbing and helpful. I now know some things I wish I didn't know, but also have information that will help me understand what he's been through.
Taryn Brittany
Making the Corps follows a platoon of young men through Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina and provides insight into the process of becoming a Marine. Ricks describes day-to-day life at boot camp in great detail and gives readers an in depth look at the transformation that occurs within each recruit during those grueling weeks. I was surprised to learn how much emphasis was given to imparting the values, traditions, and culture of the Marine Corps at boot camp—it’s not just ...more
Lizabeth Tucker
The author was a reporter who found himself intrigued and fascinated by the Marines he had met during his time covering the first Gulf conflict. Wanting to know more, from how the Corps turned themselves around after the scandals of the 1970s and early 1980s, to how they are the most respected of the military branches, to how they turn borderline recruits into Marines, he follows a group of men through basic at Parris Island. We hear in their own words why they are there, what their backgrounds ...more
A gripping and extremely accurate portrayal of the process of making a Marine. The recruits in this book went through boot camp about 2 years or so before I did. I just recently read this and I must say that it is extremely true to life; capturing not only the feelings and emotions of being subjected to the physical, mental, and emotional stresses of boot camp itself but also the passions and convictions that drove these men and women to become Marines in the first place. Ricks does a great job ...more
This is the second of Thomas Ricks' books I have read. The first, Fiasco, is a tremendous book, a combatant's indictment of a command structure that is doing no favors to the the soldiers under it. This book is about a boot camp platoon on Parris Island undergoing basic training.

Ricks is not, so far as the biographies in his books tell us, a soldier, but he has a large degree of empathy for soldiers, and especially for Marines. He doesn't mistake politics for caring for soldiers, and in fact doe
I loved this book that takes an in depth look into Marine culture that is the boot camp experience. I saw FULL METAL JACKET in 1987 when it came out and R. Lee Ermey's performance as the DI is one of the most riveting on screen characters I've ever seen. I always wanted to read in detail what going through boot camp is like and thanks to Ricks--that's accomplished.

I've never been in the military--frankly not sure how I'd handle it especially the intensity of the Marine boot camp where the main
Following one platoon through their boot camp experience at Parris Island, author Ricks is thorough, hard-hitting and still full of admiration for the Marine Corps. He gives a lot of the history of the Corps, not only battles and missions, but the struggle for funding, the changes in leadership, the political maneuvering, etc. An interesting facet of his work is that he researched the backgrounds of many of the recruits of that platoon, and continued to follow them afterwards as they progressed ...more
My son gave me this book for Father's Day. My other son will be going to Marine boot camp in a couple of months so it was a very important book for me to read so I will have some idea of what he will experiencing. The author follows the stories of several young men as the arrive at boot camp and concludes with their graduation and some follow-up. The author is a talented writer and did a great job of telling what happens as a person is transformed into a US Marine.
Henry Barry
A look inside the training process for marine recruits, this book is a narrative of their boot camp. It also follows the recruits after graduation into their military and civilian careers, and discusses the recent tensions between the military and civilian worlds. I thoroughly enjoyed the book because I really appreciate the values that the Marines are instilling in their recruits.
Bob Reutenauer
Ricks is one of the best journalists covering military affairs, on the field of battle, around the Pentagon, and for his first book he went through boot camp with a Marine Corp training group at Parris Island. This is his account of those 11 weeks. Spartan glory meets Full Metal Jacket insanity meets I'd be willing to "give it the old college try." .. anything to imagine I could get into shape again.

Serious book.. I learned a lot about the Marine Corp.
A good primer for anyone considering joining the Marine Corps. I would highly recommend reading this. I read this book in its original iteration over 18 years ago when I began my journey towards becoming a Marine and it helped me better prepare mentally for the rigors that I would undergo at recruit training. The latest edition includes interesting followups about many of the people originally profiled in the book.
Journalist Thomas Ricks observes a platoon of men who want to become enlisted Marines go through their boot camp on Parris Island. Marine boot camp has changed in the 15 years since he wrote the book, but I thought the most valuable aspect of the book was Ricks' look into the culture of the Marine Corps and his meditation on civil-military relations. Even given how good that was though, you can't help but feel like the book is out-dated, as it is written in an immediately post-Cold War, decidedl ...more
This book offers a fascinating glimpse into the making of a Marine and the instillation of Marine culture in these very special people. I work with veterans, and to date have only worked with one Marine but it was evident to me that this person was very different from other soldiers. When I asked soldiers from other branches ant the Marines they confirmed my perception that these soldiers were wired a bit differently. I found this book very helpful to understand more about the culture of the Mar ...more
I'm only half-way through at this point, and I already give it 5 stars. I think I love the statistics and macro view even more than the individual stories of the young men in Platoon 3086 going through basic training. This is a fascinating account of how the Marines Corps takes fat kids, potheads, and gangbangers and turns them into U.S. Marines. It's a chilling first-hand testimonial on American society (and condemnation) for those who want to see it, brought to you courtesy of the me-generatio ...more
Isaac Lambert-lin
A decent view of Marine Corps life, and boot camp.

I don't know if this book should have been a whole book. I feel the interesting bits about boot camp and the recruits could have been pared down to a long magazine article.

When it strays into politics, this book now seems outdated. The LA Riots are recent. The military is so distant that military coup is hinted at? Society has no sense of a need for a military? Things change fast, and it this kind of a book, it is better to avoid those topics.
Focused on a platoon at Parris Island basic training, with some follow up. Interesting. 20 years old. I'm not sure how different it would be today.
Steve Sckenda
This book follows recruit of Platoon 3086 through Marine Corps boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina, and the drill instructors who instill in them the principles of discipline, teamwork, and commitment. Ricks also examines changes in recruit training and how the Corps deals with critical social and political issues like race relations, gender equality, and sexual orientation, as well as the growing divide between the military and the rest of America. As the author follows these men from th ...more
It was hard for me to rate this book- in the end I decided on 4.5 stars. The first two/thirds was exactly what I was hoping for. An in depth glimpse into what it means to be a Marine and what happens during boot camp at Parris Island. The last part though took a hard turn and turned into a hard, clinical look at the divide between the military, specifically the Marines, and civilians.

A lot of good points were made, but as this book was written pre-9/11 I don't feel a lot has relevance nowadays.
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Thomas Edwin "Tom" Ricks (born September 25, 1955) is an American journalist who writes on defense topics. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter for the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. He writes a blog at and is a member of the Center for a New American Security, a defense policy think tank.

He lectures widely to the military and is a member of Harvard University
More about Thomas E. Ricks...
Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008 A Soldier's Duty: A Novel The Unraveling: An Update to the Gamble (a Penguin Group Especial from Penguin Books)

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