bookaddict reviewed Absolutely American : Four Years at West Point on
A fascinating account of the West Point program. Very informative, esp for someone like me who knows little about the military life. I loved this book and have it in hardcover--it won't make it onto PBS, sorry! :)
In 1998, the commandants at West Point offered the author, a Rolling Stone reporter, unfettered access to their students. The result is a sunny portrait of a group of young men and women who, as one of them says, "don't quite fit in." Lipsky touches on some recent, controversial attempts at modernizing the academysuch as a ban on hazing and the promotion of "consideration of others" (which in the context of the Army could, in an "extreme instance," mean jumping on a grenade to save the lives of your fellow-soldiers)but he is more effective as a chronicler of personality than of politics. A cadet defaces his uniform to protest softening standards; a bodybuilder worries that his future wife, following him from post to post, won't have a career; a football star fears life after graduation, wondering, "Can I think for myself?" Though initially ill-disposed toward the military, Lipsky eventually found that "of all the young people I'd met, the West Point cadetsalthough they are grand, epic complainerswere the happiest."
NEW YORKER REVIEW