➼ [Reading] ➾ The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966 By Rick Atkinson ➱ – Motyourdrive.co.uk

The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966 pdf The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966, ebook The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966, epub The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966, doc The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966, e-pub The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966, The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966 79eecdf43a2 The First Trade Paperback Edition Of The New York Times Best Seller About West Point S Class Of , By Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist Rick AtkinsonThis Is The Story Of The Twenty Five Year Adventure Of The Generation Of Officers Who Fought In Vietnam With Novelistic Detail, Atkinson Tells The Story Of West Point S Class Of Primarily Through The Experiences Of Three Classmates And The Women They Loved From The Boisterous Cadet Years And Youthful Romances To The Fires Of Vietnam, Where Dozens Of Their Classmates Died And Hundreds Grew Disillusioned, To The Hard Peace And Family Adjustments That Followed The Rich Cast Of Characters Includes Douglas MacArthur, William Westland, And A Score Of Other Memorable Figures The West Point Class Of Straddled A Fault Line In American History, And Rick Atkinson S Masterly Book Speaks For A Generation Of American Men And Women About Innocence, Patriotism, And The Price We Pay For Our Dreams


10 thoughts on “The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966

  1. says:

    My brother is a great reader of books on military history When he finds one he really likes, he tries to get me to read it I usually defer, but sometimes, if I m searching for something to red, I ll relent The Long Gray Line is a case in point It is about the West Point class of 1966, which had the misfortune of graduating into the Vietnam war At first glance it would seem a book about the war, but it is far than that Atkinson, who is a fine writer, follows the class from 1962, when they enter the academy to the late nineties in the version I read the book was first published in the 80s and reissued in the 90s He picks a handful of recruits and follows their entire careers, but he tells the stories of dozens He also tells he story of their girlfriends, wives, and children Only a small, terrible part of the book covers Vietnam The rest really tells the story of the changes wrought by the war in both West Point and the Army And, of course, the changes that took place in America during the same period.Most of the cadets leave the Army and he follows them into civilian life Some never lived up to their potential, but all of them were smart and some hugely successful.It s a very interesting book and a great read And it reminded me of why I chose not to stay in the Army after my three years were up I don t think I was cut out for a military life.


  2. says:

    One of the hazards of being Santa Claus in a library is that one sees all sorts of interesting items in between promises for Barbie dolls and AK 47s I happened to run across Rick Atkinson s Long Gray Line The American Journey of West Point s Class of 1966 in the Forreston Public Library This is just a wonderful book Based on scores of interviews, Atkinson spent 10 years gathering material The reader gets to know the pains and pleasures very few indeed of 4 years at West Point The class becomes a microcosm of American society for the next 20 years as many of the officers suffer the same agonies and worries as their countrymen Atkinson describes the revolution that Kennedy tried to foment in the officer corps In his address to West Point in 1962, Kennedy referred obliquely to the war in southeast Asia as a new kind of war with insurgents, assassins, ambushes and an enemy seeking to win by exhaustion rather than engagement Kennedy wanted the new officers to be as much diplomats as soldiers, particularly to be nation builders After Vietnam, an American officer said to his Vietnamese counterpart You know you never beat us in battle To which the other replied, That s true, it s also irrelevant West Point resisted the change They were used to creating a fighter who gave no quarter and who won by massive firepower Yet the army desperately needed a new mission in the atomic age so counter insurgency techniques were a godsend yet these proficiencies were virtually unknown In 1951, a senator asked Omar Bradley if the army had learned anything new fighting in North Korea His reply was that we have certainly been up against one type of warfare we never had before, and that is the guerilla type, in which you have infiltration of your lines by large groups Military historians were stunned The 19th century army had destroyed a whole continent of gorilla fighters, often by fighting unconventionally they had successfully defeated the Tagaloos in the Philippines, not to mention the British in the late 18th century West Point Superintendent Dave Richard Palmer wrote, The army corporate memory was little than one generation long, stretching back no further than the experiences of the men in it The impact of Vietnam on the corps was tremendous The contrast between the strict honor code of the Point and the mendacity of the army in the field lying on readiness reports and digging up graves to inflate body counts Ironically, the first class of 66 graduate to die became a metaphor for the war His own rifle killed him when he became mired in mud and handed his M 16 to a soldier butt first without the safety on The soldier accidentally hit the trigger and Frank Rybecki died in a hail of his own bullets The number of soldiers killed by friendly fire was astonishing In the book s most intense section we watch several 66 graduates maneuver their troops up hill 875, 6 of the 8 classmates in the battalion were to become casualties One died as a jet flew the wrong trajectory and dropped his bomb in the middle of Company C killing 42 and wounding all the rest Paradoxically, the hill was then evacuated after finally being taken The West Point chaplain s story is particularly poignant as he presides over an increasing number of funerals of boys whose weddings he had officiated at not too many months before Atkinson follows the class through Grenada and Panama and for many into their civilian careers An interesting tidbit Battle fatigue causalities acute environmental reaction which I always thought was something parents suffered from was much lower in Vietnam 2 3% than in WW II 20 30% A WW II study found that soldiers reached peak efficiency at 90 days of combat and that after 200 240 days the value of battle hardened men to their units became negligible That was the reason for one year tours in Vietnam.


  3. says:

    Despite my distaste for the Vietnam War,this book held my interest.It follows the West Point class of 1966 all the way from West Point to the war zone The individual stories about the cadets at West Point and how many of them would go on to lose their lives in battle make for compelling reading.On the other hand,the sufferings of the people of Vietnam during the war are not mentioned at all.


  4. says:

    This is a story of the United States Military Academy at West Point class of 1966, a class that graduated into the war in Vietnam It is non fiction, about real people and real events We are introduced to several cadets and follow them and their cohort through twenty five years Women were first admitted to West Point in the fall of 1976 and that is a part of the story The same year that 109 young women entered the academy, an honor code cheating scandal engulfed the school touching over 150 cadets That also is a part of the story Author Atkinson thoroughly examined the institution and the men who are a part of that institution he painted a portrait without the use of an air brush to hide the blemishes.The first quarter of the book covers the years 1962 1966, the years our protagonists were at West Point Although there were some interesting segments, I found it in general to be rather dull There are hyjinx of kidnapping the Navy goat before the Army Navy football game and other standard college pranks as experienced by men who were for the most part the cream of the crop, bright and boisterous There is also the drinking and the daring and reckless driving in the new red Corvette leading to nearly fatal consequences What is the phrase Work hard, play hard There are the doubts and certainties about becoming a warrior in a time when yet another war was in its beginning stages But mixed in with these highlights, were many uninteresting days for young men in a male dominated society These four years made me think of what it must be like to live in a college frat house.I decided to read this book because of its connection with Vietnam While I am not so knowledgeable about military history, I did live through that era and was one of the many young men subjected to the draft Like Bill Clinton and George W Bush, I was not drafted I did sing the song Alice s Restaurant along with Arlo Guthrie I was touched by that war in ways that contributed to who I became as an adult So reading the book was in some ways a flashback to places, West Point and Vietnam, that would have been extremely strange to me in 1966 and still have a surreal quality in my mind.Our young protagonists are prepared by four years at West Point, steeped in duty, honor, and country Nearly every great captain, the cadets were told, had been tested in combat early in his career Lee and Grant in Mexico, Pershing and Marshall in the Philippines, Patton and MacArthur in World War I The clear implication, of course, was that the men of 66 should be grateful for the chance to be annealed in combat and prove themselves as young warriors But those had been textbook wars and textbook heroes A cadet could not smell JP4 and burning feces in the classroom This was real After years of preparing for this moment, George felt ready More than ready, in fact he felt invincible The second quarter of the book covers the time spent in Vietnam Our West Point graduates came to Vietnam as lieutenants, full of ideals and ignorance Seventeen hundred lieutenants died in Vietnam three generals The lieutenants were hardly benighted than the most senior echelons of the United States government and the American Army What Lieutenant George Crocker did not know on arriving at Bien Hoa he could not have been expected to know what the president, the secretary of defense, the Joint Chiefs, and the Army s top generals did not know would cost 58,000 American lives and lose the war West Point was the calm Vietnam was the storm Lt Crocker suddenly found that he was a target and The Long Gray Line no longer had any dull moments Matt moved slowly among the dead as Charlie Company began zipping them into body bags Never had he imagined having to witness such carnage The battlefield bespoke something primordial, something as timeless as warfare the stench, the droning flies, the grotesque attitude of corpses already ripening in the jungle heat The mutilated bodies lying singly or in small groups, were reminiscent of Custer s last stand But the tableau also suggested a heartbreaking na vet , like the Kindermort, the Massacre of the Innocents in 1914, when untrained German schoolboys had been slaughtered at Ypres The narrative is gruesome and graphic Hallow eyed with fatigue, a medic stumbled over and tugged the poncho from the wounded soldier In the moonlight, Lindseth was horrified to see that there was nothing below the soldier s waist both legs had been severed at the hip The sight seared itself into Lindseth s memory, as the medic injected another syringe of morphine A few hours later, the soldier died Tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, tons of bombs and napalm are delivered in an attempt to annihilate an invisible enemy Machine guns and grenades obliterate the dense jungle Men are horribly maimed and die instantly or slowly At some point the enemy melts away into the jungle As so often happened now in Vietnam, Americans had fought and died valiantly for a meaningless terrain feature that was seized only to be immediately relinquished The battle was a Pyrrhic victory once defined by Churchill as bought so dear as to be almost indistinguishable from defeat Death in war is really not ever simple When Fran awoke, she knew it was true Buck was gone forever The family did not know and would not know for twenty years that Buck had been killed by an American bomb And what about the young lieutenants from West Point The scene was sobering, but Tom was not inclined to ask himself any hard questions about the cost of the war The doctors told him it would take two months to recuperate, yet already he was eager to get back with the Screaming Eagles He was a West Pointer a West Pointers place was at the front, even in a conflict where there was no front Never having had any second thoughts about the war, Tom wasn t about to entertain them now He was apolitical Wasn t that the way professional soldiers were supposed to be Isn t that what West Point taught, a rigorous neutrality Humphrey, Nixon, LBJ Tom could not see a nickel s worth of difference between any of them He wasn t even registered to vote Issues of war and peace were properly decided by the democratically elected government for a lieutenant to second guess that government showed arrogant bad faith And then there were the civilians stateside That would be me People at home had no idea what the war was like, and most simply didn t care to know That was not true for many of us We watched it on the television news every night and saw daily photos in the newspapers At the high school reunions we heard about the members of our class who had served and died.I have not yet succeeded in putting Vietnam behind me For me it is the big What if What if I had been drafted in 1969 What if I had been ordered to Vietnam What if I had gone to Canada instead The second half of the book deals with the lives of our Lieutenants after the war whether they stayed in or resigned from the Army They were still young most in their mid twenties b ut the war had aged some of them beyond their years The U.S Army was a different place by the end of the war Drug use and abuse was common and relations between blacks and whites were tense The all volunteer Army was a different animal from the draft Discipline was erratic.The resignation rate was high and the satisfaction of West Pointers low Some were glad to get out and some were sad to get out The Army had officers than necessary after the war due in part to promotions in the field The book contains stories about what some of the men did after the war, some that made the news We also learn about the creation of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C., to become one of the most moving and popular national memorials after a very mixed initial reception I ve got to tell you, as someone who has stood and touched The Wall, a shiver in my spine and a lump in my throat combined with tears in my eyes as I read the portion of the story of The Wall where the idea of the statue was combined with the polished black granite One of Jan Scrugg s favorite lines was from F Scott Fitzgerald Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy Here were written the names of than 58.000 heroes, which made for a tragedy of epic magnitude Somehow, though, the memorial moved beyond death and grief to a celebration of the mysteries of life It s supposed to heal, Bill thought, and it does Relishing the battles led by our West Point class of 66, the October 1983 invasion of Grenada is revisited One disastrous encounter of the four day operation on this very small Caribbean island was when a Navy fighter jet mistakenly strafed an Army operations center wounding sixteen and killing one In another operation where Blackhawk helicopters bringing Rangers into what turned out to be a mostly deserted facility crashed together killing four Rangers Nine thousand medals for valor and achievement were awarded, far than the total number of troops on Grenada The United States Army, its self esteem battered in Southeast Asia, needed to win a war, any war I had such great expectations for this book I thought that it could never be as good as I expected it to be The Vietnam segments were grisly as I have come to expect The struggles of the West Point graduates of 1966 to maintain their allegiance to the cause for which many died were powerfully presented by the author How they individually and collectively confronted their commitment to duty, honor, and country illuminates the gentle boys who went to war.It all boils down to this I wasn t too interested in what they did before the war but I was interested in what they did during and after their war experience The writing throughout the book was very good The before chapters could have been condensed, I thought I found the during and after chapters fascinating and often did not want to stop reading My obsession with Vietnam runs deep as if it is a missing or unknown part of my life The Long Gray Line fed that obsession and made me glad that I still have some significant Vietnam books on my shelf to read Fire in the Lake, July July, Vietnam A History, In Retrospect The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam, A Rumor of War, The Killing Zone , In Country , Last Men Out , The Cat from Hue Most of these are rated as four star books by GR encouraging me to look forward to reading them.Because I found the first segment of the book, the period at West Point before the war, less than the excellence achieved by the rest of the book, I give The Long Gray Line four stars Although I was not captivated by the first section of the book, I thought the rest of the book was five star quality The Long Gray Line has some stunning stand alone stories that come together as a unified whole The men who are tracked through the book are part of what brings it all together West Point is clearly a major unifying factor While it is not always at the front of your mind, you know that it is part of who these men were and who they have become I was and am a strong anti person anti military and anti war A positive way to put it would be to say I am a pacifist But I kind of like the anti label I would not consider myself an ally of West Point But that antipathy that anti again did not prevent me from enjoying and learning from The Long Gray Line I was horrified by some of it and touched by others.The book does have a good set of notes and a bibliography at the end that give some insight into how the material for this non fiction book was gathered and written.


  5. says:

    Three and a Half StarsI was born in 1968 My father was born in 1944 and had already been to Vietnam before I was even conceived Growing up I didn t give too much thought to my parent s generation The so called Baby Boomers However I was in awe of the WW II generation My grandfathers and great uncles fought in that war That was the Good War My parent s generation fought and lost in South Vietnam and gave us the seventies and Jimmy Carter I was young and simplistic in many ways But I suppose most kids feel that way about their parents generation growing up However by the time I was in my early twenties I had begun to feel differently about my parents and their time I was a young man in the U.S Army in the late eighties and there were still many Vietnam veterans serving in both the Regular Army and the Army Reserve and Army National Guard I had gotten to know some of those men and women and I was also growing up I had come to realize that blaming my parent s generation for the previous forty five years was absurd and simple minded Rick Atkinson s The Long Gray Line came along at the right time For not only was I a young and enthusiastic soldier in 1990, but I was wanting to know about what my parents and their peers had experienced in their youth The book begins in 1962 when the Class of 1966 reports in August for Beast Barracks Beast Barracks is basically an abbreviated and intense introduction to West Point and Army life for the young plebes It s to teach them the military basics that they will need in order to survive their first year at West Point There is background information on the officers that Atkinson profiles and the book follows the individual officers up to the late 1980 s The book ends in 1987 Basically Atkinson examines the changes that the U.S Army and the United States experienced over a very traumatic twenty five year period The book is or less an biographical account with fairly extensive background political, military, social, economical information so that the reader can put the individual experiences in context While the book isn t a barn burner it is an interesting read and provides a very Human aspect to the time period It also serves to give the Army a Human face This book also helped me to appreciate my parents generation a little and that is never a bad thing in my opinion So in it s own small way this book made a difference Mr Atkinson is a journalist and the book reads like a journalistic piece which it essentially is It s well written and has a nice comfortable informality about it It s a good read and I recommend it.


  6. says:

    Possibly one of the best books I ve read The book details several members of West Point s graduating class of 1966 One that suffered one of the highest casualty rates of all classes to serve in Vietnam Mr Atkinson does a wonderful job setting the mood that we ve all experienced in our lives freshly graduatedworld at our doorstep atmosphere He then takes that wide eyed worldview and bathes it in fire of real life The harsh reality of the world slowly beats away the wide eyed feeling we have to start off the book, as each member experiences their own trials and tribulations in dealing with West Point and all points after There is heartbreaking sadness as you see real characters get cut down in the prime of their lives.Really is a wonderful read and certainly one that ANYONE that likes true life military reading should read It s one of the few books that gave me trouble maintaining composure as you read through real life sadness and loss.


  7. says:

    What an epic book this is It follows the West Point class of 1966 mainly through the lives of 3 cadets, whom I would describe as a warrior, a servant and a rebel, as well as the West Point reverend who knew most of them from young cadets to old men The stories of many other cadets are intermingled throughout the book to give a better picture of what these men went through during their lives The book is heart rending as it is about young men full of bright ideals when they start on their journey, who are then during the Vietnam era and afterwards searching for meaning in their life after everything they believed in have been broken down, where some of them cope well under the pressure and others break You may not like and agree with all of the 3 cadets in the story, but that is life and what makes this book great as it takes the lives of 3 very different cadets This book is also full of West Point history and traditions and the story of an institution going through major changes and searching for it s own identity, and the 10th year anniversary edition has a great afterword to show where some of the 66 graduates ended up in life I highly recommend this book as it is one of the best books I ve read and shows that honor and duty never goes out of fashion


  8. says:

    I was intrigued when I heard about this book and was encouraged by my brother to read it So, I had put it in my to read category for the time being What had started me in REALLY reading this was when I took a history class and the instructor mentioned that he had graduated West Point, class of 1966, and had served in Vietnam as an officer To me, getting myself immersed in this time period had become vivid, as I had genuinely felt one step removed from the cadets and soldiers that Atkinson wrote about I can only imagine of this particular time period in American history a time where boys and girls had to grow up out of necessity and had to become men and women during a time in our nation of uncertainty There was something that was definitely relatable to me about this book, and that was that no matter the circumstances in the world, there is a need for citizens of our country to stand up, to defend and to honor the service and sacrifice of those before us This book was a great example of that.


  9. says:

    The Vietnam chapters look amazingbut West Point itself is a slough of boredom I haven t read a single American military bio or memoir in which it s interesting, not even in a sadistic Young T rless kinda way it s strict there s no booze Or women Except MacArthur s mom, who lived nearby to keep him out of trouble All I recall Grant saying is that he hated it Not even James Salter, whose blurb for The Long Gray Line partly convinced me to add the book, writes well about West Point in Burning the Days, his years there are an arduous trial, for Salter and reader alike, before fighter jets, coterie fame, and La Belle France.


  10. says:

    One of the best books I ve ever read Tough at times, but very readable, and most certainly very well written And I don t generally get into the military stuff, so that s saying something Highly recommend.


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