I recently finished reading Absolutely American by David Lipsky, a Rolling Stone writer, which follows cadets at West Point over four years. Just a little different than my liberal arts college experience. For example, no deans at my school ever gave a speech like:
"...I can guarantee you this: this class will move out, will go into the ranks of the Army. And somewhere, in some disputed barricade along the frontier, you will meet your destiny. And you will stack this nation's enemies like cordwood.''
Lipsky successfully describes an interesting university culture that is remarkably different than the culture they aim to protect. Even having never considered joining the military there is an attractiveness to environment they’ve created. One that has a clear sense of shared values and mission, where they sacrafice in the service of others and that demands teamwork in a truly integrated, multicultural community. I can’t say those things about my university’s community where values are very individual, personal achievement is paramount, and the community is neither that diverse nor well-integrated. Lipsky illustrates many other factors about the cadet life that are unappealing, but the book definitely changed the way I view West Point.
The author was on On Point not so long ago for an interesting interview and conversation about his book.