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Making the Corps

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,727 Ratings  ·  115 Reviews
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
ebook, 320 pages
Published July 31st 2007 by Scribner (first published 1997)
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Just did a re-read of this & it's just as interesting/excellent/compelling as I remembered it. The profiled soldier stories are compelling and the author does a magnificent job detailing their lives at Parris Island. I loved their stories and the way the author peals back the curtain and shows the reader just what these Marines experience in boot camp. It's a raw, unflinching and ultimately, sympathetic, portrait of the men who make up Platoon 3086 - where they came from, their experience in ...more
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, non-fiction
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
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
Jan 04, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, nonfiction
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
May 14, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 16, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book as a gift for a Marine friend and ended up reading it myself. This book is a eye-opening introduction to the uninitiated and does a wonderful job of showing how modern Marines are molded during training. Ricks does a masterful job explaining the complex process of shaping disparate young men into a cohesive fighting unit. I highly recommend this book if you have Marine friends and want to gain some insight into their attitudes and values.
Jan 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Never ones to shy away from real time exposure of their beloved Corps, the US Marines allowed veteran reporter and senior Washington Post Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks to intimately follow platoon 3086 as they made their way through Boot Camp at Parris Island. What follows is a truly seminal work that defines the Marine Corps from every angle. What makes the Marines different from any other branch of service? How does one make a Marine? What is their place in the military, and what is the ...more
Melissa Metzgar
Jan 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
David M
This book is highly informative, pretty much what I was looking for. As a leftist, of course I am opposed to US imperialism and military hegemony. Nonetheless for the past couple years I've consciously been trying to learn about the culture of our military, reading books by or about soldiers from recent American wars. Our country has by far the most powerful array of armed forced in the history of the world, but only a small percent of our population actually serves. Generic expressions of goodw ...more
Joseph Stieb
Apr 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 10, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kaiden Archer
Dec 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Making the Corps
Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a Marine? In the book “Making the Corps”, written by Thomas E. Ricks, the author gives us a firsthand account of the intense training it takes to join the United States Marine Corps. This book shares the lives of the men of Platoon 3086 during their time in Parris Island, South Carolina. This book is well written, and gives many details of what it takes to become a Marine.
Some of the main themes in “Making the Corps” is how the Am
Sep 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 23, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
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
Lizabeth Tucker
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, military
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
John Dennehy
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 21, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
J. Gibson Hartley
Ricks provides an in depth view of the vigorous culture at the heart of the Marine Corps by exploring how it is instilled in every marine on the enlisted side. Though this book is outdated in issues such as policy on homosexuality, it is relevant and exhaustive when exploring the values and training of the Marines. Making the Corps also offers fascinating discussions of the differences between the Marines and the Army as well as challenges that face a small organization like the Marines in a bro ...more
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
Wolf Murray
May 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book follows MCRD Parris Island's recruits of platoon 3086. Ricks wrote this book to show the hardships of Marine Corps boot camp and to expose the fine line between civilians and the military. I would recommend this book because there's so much civilians don't understand about the military as a whole. Civilians have been somewhat hostile towards the marines since the Vietnam War. This is because they do not share the same values as marines, nor can they see them. Ricks does a fantastic job ...more
Jul 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social
Interesting in so many ways, the book is more than a detailed (almost pushup-by-pushup) account of one 1995 platoon's experience at Marine Corps boot camp on Parris Island. Ricks also writes movingly about the confusion and uncertainty among late adolescents in the United States, and about the role of discipline and mentors. His book is not a tract, and he follows both successes and failures, and though there are more than 60 recruits and instructors, Ricks always makes his characters identifia ...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.
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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...

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“the platoon moves out to the rifle range barracks for basic rifle training . The gospel according to Parris Island is that shooting accurately is a matter of discipline: Even the clumsiest recruit can do it well if he follows the prescribed steps, from sighting and aiming, to proper positioning, to trigger control and sight adjustment. “Any person in the world can be a marksman if he applies himself,” 0 likes
“Any Marine veteran can reach back thirty or forty years and summon the names of his drill instructors. Flying in a Marine jet over Parris Island, Brig. Gen. Randy West looks down on the swampy land and simply says , “I was born there.” 0 likes
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