Duty First

Book Review



Duty First


Ed Ruggero


Harper Collins, New  York, NY



Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

December, 2001


In Duty First, Ed Ruggero takes a critical look at West  Point, the world's premier military academy as it moves into the 21st century. This is a hardcover book of about 350 pages.

Get more information about Duty First at Amazon.comFor  the purposes of his examination, the author offers a snapshot glimpse of life at West Point from a number of different eyes instead of following cadets through their entire four years. The story begins with cadets at "Beast" -  the pre-training course for indoctrination into military life. The author interviews  the cadets as they progress through the course to gain an understanding of their reactions, and he also examines the motivations and responsibilities of their leaders who are more senior cadets.

The story moves on to show the rigidly structured  lifestyle of the students that have progressed past their freshman year -- how their activities from dawn to dusk follow a highly regimented and predictable  pattern each day. Of special interest is the odd social status of the freshmen class in this unique school and the unique routines they must follow to be accepted  by the junior and senior class students. At several points in the story, the  author demonstrates that the isolation and regimentation of the training leads to problems with some students being able to fulfill their roles as military  leaders.

Although I found much of this book interesting and insightful, it seemed at times that it was attempting to indict the system of military training  by comparing West Point's program to ROTC programs at other major colleges. This inclination to criticize the program seemed to taint the flavor of objectivity, yet the story succeeds in giving a relatively fair presentation of the academy  and the soldiers tasked with its success.

Anyone considering a career as a military officer will want  to read this book to get an idea of what the training will be like. This story  as seen through the eyes of the cadets will give the reader a good idea of what it feels like to attend and succeed at the premier academy of officer training.

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