Underdogs: The Making of the Modern Marine Corps

Aaron B. O’Connell. Harvard Univ, $29.95 (388p) ISBN 978-0-674-05827-9
Exploring the U.S. Marine Corps’s “stories, assumptions, and habits of mind,” O’ Connell, professor of history at the U.S. Naval Academy and a Marine reserve officer focuses on the period from WWII, when the corps was viewed as “the least attractive military service,” to Vietnam, when the corps emerged as the elite American armed force. His thesis is that the Marines synergized their distinguished combat performance in the Pacific and Korea with an active, interventionist role in American society. The corps cultivated relationships with journalists and members of Congress, and combined sophisticated marketing with hard-core politics, forming alliances yielding benefits to all participants. Structuring the process was a Marine sense of superiority that facilitated redefinition as “an elite force of military first responders with a global reach” and “a wariness of outsiders that bordered on paranoia.” This sense of separateness allowed the Marines to de-emphasize bureaucracy and view war “through the language and logic of art.” They privileged sacrifice and suffering in the context of a blood-sworn community. The resulting cultural capital has defined Marine performance from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan as central players in national defense. O’Connell offers an excellent analysis of how the marines became the Marines. 24 b&w illus. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/13/2012
Release date: 10/01/2012
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-1243-0
MP3 CD - 978-1-4526-6243-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-4526-4243-7
Paperback - 381 pages - 978-0-674-41681-9
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