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Books About Joining the Marine Corps

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When I was preparing to join the Marine Corps, there was one thing I did besides working out and oscillating between watching "Full Metal Jacket" and "A Few Good Men" over and over: I read books on what it's like to be a Marine, and what it takes to get there.

You should do all the research you can, so that you know what you're getting into. So, for your reading pleasure, I recommend the following books on the Marine Corps:

'Joining the United States Marine Corps: A Handbook,' by Snow Wildsmith

This book is aimed at teenagers thinking about joining the Corps and deals mainly with helping young people decide whether the service is right for them. It covers preparation, enlistment, recruitment and basic training.

'Making the Corps,' by Thomas E. Ricks

This book covers the training of new recruits, following the progress of a new platoon from their arrival on the recruitment bus to graduation. The author examines the Marine Corps ethos and what sets Marines apart from other branches of the military. He also discusses how the Corps deals with modern social and political issues, such as gender equality.

'First to Fight: An Inside View of the U.S. Marine Corps,' by Victor H. Krulak

"First to Fight" was written by a retired lieutenant general, now deceased, and is a study of the history of the Corps combined with his own personal experiences. It looks at how and why the Marine Corps is set up the way it is today, and also at the political background surrounding it. It is part of the "required reading" of the Marine Corps Professional Reading Program.

'US Marine Guidebook,' by United States Marine Corps

Although this book was published in 2010, it is a reprint of an earlier edition from 1985; many reviewers report that the information is out of date.

'U.S. Marine Guidebook of Essential Subjects,' by Pentagon U.S Military

This includes a section on the Corps' history, as well as on all practical subjects such as code of conduct, drill, first aid, navigation, etc.

'With the Old Breed,' and 'China Marine,' by E.B. Sledge

"With the Old Breed" is a memoir of the author's personal experiences during World War II in the Pacific arena. In "China Marine," he continues his story following his posting to China after the war, and ending with his return to civilian life.

'Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific,' by Robert Leckie

Again, this is a firsthand account of the author's personal experiences during the World War II. The memoir follows his progress from basic training through combat in the Pacific theater of war.

'To be a US Marine,' by S.F. (Steve) Tomajczyk

This book is part of a series of books covering America's military forces. It studies the stories of a class of recruits passing through Marine recruit training.

'The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the United States Marines,' by Bing West and Ray L. Smith

This is a firsthand account of the 22-day march to Baghdad during war in Iraq, written by two reporters who joined the Marine units who were leading the assault each day.

'From Baghdad to America: Life after War for a Marine and His Rescued Dog,' by Jay Kopelman

This is a sequel to "From Baghdad to America" that tells of the author's experiences as a U.S. Marine who rescued a dog during his time in Baghdad. This second book recounts his leaving the Corps and returning to the U.S. It examines the emotional repercussions of war and the difficulties that former Marines find in adjusting to civilian life.

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