On Brave Old Army Team: The Cheating Scandal That Rocked the Nation: West Point, 1951

James Blackwell, Author Presidio Press $27.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-89141-553-4
In 1951, 83 cadets were expelled from the United States Military Academy at West Point for cheating. In this thorough history of the affair, Blackwell (Thunder in the Desert, 1991), a CNN military analyst, not only relates the facts of the story but also reveals that cheating pervaded West Point for decades in the middle of this century. The 1951 scandal primarily involved football players from one of Coach Earl ""Red"" Blaik's many powerhouse teams. After Blaik took possession of the Army football program in 1940, he began, according to Blackwell, to recruit players whose academic abilities were no match for their gridiron skills. In order to pass certain exams, these players were assigned a tutor whose nominal job was to assist the student but whose actual duty involved passing him ""the poop."" Blackwell follows several principals, including Blaik, through the course of the scandal and grounds his well-written story in a lively detailing of West Point ways and life. He doesn't condemn Blaik--whose own son was expelled--though much evidence seems to point to his knowing about the cheating. Instead, the author observes that the culture of West Point, particularly the institution of the honor code, was in dire need of reform. It would take another 25 years and a second scandal, however, for the needed changes to be enforced. Photographs; map. (June)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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