Life On The Long Gray Line

David Lipsky spent four years at West Point, studying its fascinating huah subculture

In 1998 David Lipsky visited the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on assignment for Rolling Stone. He spent the next four years there, attending classes, doing 10-mile slogs in the rain and watching the 4,000 or so cadets polish their shoes, get drunk, cry and grow up. When it was over, the cadets were lieutenants in the U.S. Army, and Lipsky was the author of Absolutely American (Houghton Mifflin; 317 pages), which, despite its Army-issue title, is a fascinating, funny and tremendously well written account of life on the Long Gray Line.

Lipsky approaches the cadets like an anthropologist stalking...

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