The Long Gray Line

Rick Atkinson, Author
Rick Atkinson, Author Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) $24.95 (592p) ISBN 978-0-395-48008-3
Reviewed on: 02/03/1992
Release date: 02/01/1992
Since its founding by Thomas Jefferson in 1802, the United States Military Academy, ``fortress of virtue, preserve of the nation's values,'' has exerted a powerful and lasting influence on its graduates. As revealed in this Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter's eloquent and heartfelt narrative, the class of 1966 was subjected to oral and ethical pressures that were unique, partly because it was ``the first generation of West Pointers to join a losing Army,'' and partly because of the radical change in society's attitude toward the military during the latter years of the Vietnam era. Atkinson profiles a handful of representatives of that class, following them from their high-spirited cadet years, through the crucible of Southeast Asia and--of those who survived--into the hard peace that ensued. The book is a poignant, thought-provoking account of the struggles of young men who pledged themselves to ``Honor, Duty, Country,'' but found that living up to West Point's iron standards was difficult and in some cases impossible. 100,000 first printing; $150,000 ad/promo; film rights to Warner Bros; author tour. (Oct.)
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