Absolutely American:

Four Years at West Point

 

by David Lipsky (Houghton Mifflin Company)

 

(This column first appeared in the November 27, 2003 issue of ArtVoice of Buffalo.)

 

You might expect from a Rolling Stone editor an expose of the militaristic culture of our nation's major military academy. If that's what you are looking for here, forget it. David Lipsky was captured by the lives of West Point cadets and has written often quite movingly about the young men and women who enter this institution as raw teenagers and emerge, many of them, as deeply committed army officers. And his is not a superficial walk-through of those lovely grounds of West Point overlooking the Hudson River. Instead he followed a cadet class through four years of difficult life. Although his initial assignment was to spend a few weeks there, instead he moved to Highland Falls for those years, as he puts it, to hang out with a plebe class until they graduated. Among the many good kids that play roles in this book, my favorite and I predict yours will be as well is George Rash. Simply to make it from one month to the next at the Point is a constant challenge for him. You'll come away from reading this book with new respect for this aspect of our military culture.-- Gerry Rising