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As David Lipsky follows a future generation of army officers from their proving grounds to their barracks, he reveals the range of emotions and desires that propels these men and women forward. From the cadet who struggles with every facet of West Point life to those who are decidedly huah, Lipsky shows people facing challenges so daunting and responsibilities so heavy that their transformations are fascinating to watch. Absolutely American is a thrilling portrait of a unique institution and those who make up its ranks.
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Individuality would not seem to be a highly prized virtue at West Point. After all, new cadets arriving at the military academy are not required to pack anything more than a toothbrush and some underwear since they will be issued everything else. But despite their uniformity and disciplined bearing, the cadets profiled in David Lipsky's Absolutely American are still college kids who have moved away from their hometowns to figure out what to do with their lives. Lipsky was given unprecedented access at West Point and spent a full four years following a class from wide-eyed arrival through graduation. The most fascinating cadets are the ones who don't fit the gung-ho West Point stereotype. George Rash faces expulsion on a regular basis but persistently hangs in, "Huck" Finn just wants to play football but becomes more enamored of the military life than he ever expected, and Christi Cicerelle stays perfectly coiffed and, as she says, "girly," even while becoming a highly skilled soldier. Lipsky's tenure came at a pivotal time in the institution's history: hazing had recently been discontinued (part of a series of reforms referred to with both gravity and a little remorse as "The Changes") and the attacks of September 11, 2001 placed the United States in a war which the cadets would have to fight. The academy, in Lipsky's portrayal, demands much of its charges, its standards are high, and the possibility of being "separated" from West Point looms large for any cadet not up to par. Yet the cadets are shown as largely happy people, using the harsh demands of a West Point experience to find the kind of structure and purpose that other college students would envy. Lipsky, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, creates portraits that are, by turns, hilarious, touching, harrowing, disappointing and joyful. As his subjects finally graduate and launch their careers, readers may feel like a proud parent or friend standing in the crowd and cheering their accomplishments. --John MoeFrom the Back Cover:
"Absolutely amazing. Lipsky doesn't just get close to his characters. He's inside their skin. With a laser eye for every telling detail, and with glistening prose, he delivers an uncannily intimate chronicle of West Point life. This is the rare work of non-fiction that actually does read like a gripping novel."
-- John Colapinto, author of As Nature Made Him and About the Author
"A remarkable achievement. This superbly written account offers an unprecedented look inside one of America’s most mythic places. It is absolutely engrossing."
-- Kevin Baker, author of Dreamland and Paradise Alley
"Absolutely American has the feel of a classic, a book that will be read for years, by the military-minded of course, but also by everyone with the imagination to see their life as a test, the results of which go right into the permanent record. In addition to being one of our best writers and storytellers, David Lipsky has a great pair of eyes. He has taken the military experience and turned it into poetry, as smooth and elegant and purposeful as the sound made by a column of marching soldiers."
-- Rich Cohen, author of Tough Jews and Lake Effect
"A deeply insightful, brilliantly revealing book about the highs and lows of being a West Point cadet. In the tradition of Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thompson, and George Plimpton, David Lipsky embedded himself at the U.S. Military Academy, hoping to deflate its time-honored myths. He succeeded. Absolutely American is an unqualified page turner."
-- Douglas Brinkley, Director of the Eisenhower Center, author of Wheels for the World and The American Heritage History of the United States
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Book Description Random House Audio, 2004. Audio CD. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110739312804
Book Description Random House Audio, 2004. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0739312804