West Point And The Making Of American LeadersBook - 2001
Duty First is a penetrating account of a year inside one of America's premier schools for leadership-the United States Military Academy at West Point. Ed Ruggero, a former West Point cadet and professor, takes an incisive look at how this elite school builds the "leaders of character" who will command the nation's military.
Ruggero details the struggles of young men and women who will lead the American soldiers of the future. Writing with deep insight and superb narrative skill, he follows their tumultuous lives: the initial, grueling training, the strict student hierarchy and intense classroom work, and the interaction between the lowly first-year plebes and the upper-class cadets who train them. Duty First also shows the role played by the majors, captains, and sergeants, who oversee everything that happens at this unique institution.
By taking a close, critical look at the Academy's standards and traditions, Ruggero examines the changes in West Point's approach to leadership training that have sparked controversy among its alumni. While all West Pointers would agree with one graduate's claim that "steel is forged in fire," many worry that the fire has been allowed to cool too much. Does today's Academy produce leaders with the inner steel to fight and win the nation's wars, or are today's cadets being coddled in the interest of political correctness, retention, and diversity? Above the Hudson River to the hot and humid barracks rooms where the nation's future captains struggle, Ruggero combines objective reporting with the emotional perspective of memoir to take readers on a guided tour through the jarring, overwhelming, inspiring leadership school that is West Point.
The stories in Duty First widely reverberate far beyond West Point, because while the specific goals and methods of developing leaders differ, the fundamental values courage, commitment, selfless sacrifice - are the same for all leaders, from the parents of small children to the CEOs of major corporations.