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Underdogs: The Making of the Modern Marine Corps | [Aaron B. O'Connell]

Underdogs: The Making of the Modern Marine Corps

The Marine Corps has always considered itself a breed apart. Since 1775, America's smallest armed service has been suspicious of outsiders and deeply loyal to its traditions. Marines believe in nothing more strongly than the Corps' uniqueness and superiority, and this undying faith in its own exceptionalism is what has made the Marines one of the sharpest, swiftest tools of American military power. Along with unapologetic self-promotion, a strong sense of identity has enabled the Corps to exert a powerful influence on American politics and culture.
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Publisher's Summary

The Marine Corps has always considered itself a breed apart. Since 1775, America's smallest armed service has been suspicious of outsiders and deeply loyal to its traditions. Marines believe in nothing more strongly than the Corps' uniqueness and superiority, and this undying faith in its own exceptionalism is what has made the Marines one of the sharpest, swiftest tools of American military power. Along with unapologetic self-promotion, a strong sense of identity has enabled the Corps to exert a powerful influence on American politics and culture.

Aaron O'Connell focuses on the period from World War II to Vietnam, when the Marine Corps transformed itself from America's least respected to its most elite armed force. He describes how the distinctive Marine culture played a role in this ascendancy. Venerating sacrifice and suffering, privileging the collective over the individual, Corps culture was saturated with romantic and religious overtones that had enormous marketing potential in a postwar America energized by new global responsibilities. Capitalizing on this, the Marines curried the favor of the nation's best reporters, befriended publishers, courted Hollywood and Congress, and built a public relations infrastructure that would eventually brand it as the most prestigious military service in America.

But the Corps' triumphs did not come without costs, and O'Connell writes of those, too, including a culture of violence that sometimes spread beyond the battlefield. And as he considers how the Corps' interventions in American politics have ushered in a more militarized approach to national security, O'Connell questions its sustainability.

©2012 the President and Fellows of Harvard College (P)2013 Tantor

What the Critics Say

"O'Connell offers an excellent analysis of how the marines became the Marines." (Publishers Weekly)

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    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 04-17-13
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 04-17-13 Member Since 2010

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

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    "The making of the Marine Corps"

    Aaron B. O'Connell is a professor at Annapolis. O'Connell covers briefly the beginning of the Corp and it's poor reputation because of it tough men many with criminal backgrounds. When the Corp was created it designed it's self on the Royal marines including the uniform. O'Connell covers in detail the period from WWII to the start of the Vietnam war. . The marines transformed itself from American least respected to it's most elite armed forces during this period. He explains in detail how they created a great public relation infrastructure, cultivated newsman and Hollywood to promote the corp. Unlike the other services the Marine stories were focus on the men mainly the privates and aimed the information for the families at home. He shows how the corp created exceptionalism, self promotion, and strong sense of identity, and their role in American politics and culture. It is an interesting book but he could have reduced the amount of repetition. If you want to understand the history of the Corp and how it made itself this is the book for you. If you are a history buff you will also enjoy the book. Danny Campbell did a good job with the narration.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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