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West Point

This post serves two purposes.

The first is to recommend David Lipsky’s book Absolutely American to those of you who, y’know, read. It’s a splendid book, wonderfully written, wonderfully informative, and wonderfully considered. I recommend it heartily.

The second is to ask for help, and yes, it’s related. I’m looking to talk to anyone out there who might have graduated West Point in the last few years. This is story research, essentially deep background, but I’ve got some questions, and the only way I’m going to get them answered, I think, is from someone who’s lived the life.

Any help would be appreciated.

15 Responses to West Point

  1. sixteenbynine

    I might be able to put you in touch with a couple of people on my end, but I’d have to dig.

    On a side note, kudos for completist research! I’m trying to accomplish the same thing right now for my own work in progress, but it’s a little harder when the time period (and the event) in question was long ago, far away, and left a great many people who could speak definitively about it, dead.

  2. kali921

    By total coincidence, I just ordered this book! The NY Times review is pretty excellent, too. “Run like scalded apes” has me snorting green tea in a most painful fashion.

  3. admin

    I may ask for that, depending on how all my other inquiries go. Appreciated muchly.

    And yeah, talking to dead people is always a challenge. At least, getting answers from them….

  4. admin

    It really is a wonderful book. Unexpected and frank. Lipsky did a wonderful and, it seems to me, very sincere and fair job with it.

  5. kali921

    I’m absolutely fascinated with narratives of military culture, both from an insider and outsider perspective. This may be partially borne by the fact no one in my family has served in the military since WWI, and that most of us were/are goddamn liberal tree-hugging humvee-hating liberal pinkos. So I enjoy reading about a culture that is utterly alien to me in terms of personal or familial experience. (Although we have plenty of friends who served or are serving.)

    My dad’s business partner, when my father started up a business that does high end engineering for racing Porsches (my dad specialized in tweaking 928s into 600+ hp MONSTERS), was a colonel in the Air Force that had two advanced graduate degrees in the social sciences and the arts. He and I used to sit for hours and discuss the minutiae of foreign policy and political history of various regions of the world. He was kind of an eye opening experience for me in that up to that point, I hadn’t met many officers with such a profoundly intellectual and artistic bent. I subsequently learned that he’s anything but a rarity in certain echelons of the military.

    (Also, a family friend is the person that started the Human Terrain program in the military. While I vehemently disagree with a lot of what that program is about, it’s been fascinating to read and watch what comes out of it. Although once anthropologists start dying in combat, I get very, very upset.)

  6. kali921

    Fffff. The dead are only ambiguous in fiction! What you need are intelligent ZOMBIES to give you the lowdown.

  7. sixteenbynine

    Not to worry! I have some of those on tap for the next book. :D

  8. robpugh

    Not a West Point grad, but I did graduate from the Naval Academy, class of ’94, and served in the Marines for 5 years. If you hit a brick wall searching for a pointer, I’d be glad to see if I can help out.

    Really looking forward to Walking Dead, btw…

  9. nickhartz

    I may have two people for you.

    Greg, I actually may be able to help you out on this. I have a friend that I went to high school with that actually went to West Point. He actually graduated in 2001. I don’t know if you need someone who is a more recent grad or not. The second person is actually the son of a person that I work with. He graduated in 96 or 97 I believe. He was actually home a week ago for some R and R. He is involved in Special Forces and is getting ready to head back to Afghanistan again.

  10. nickhartz

    Re: I may have two people for you.

    Actually, after reading your post again, I think the two may not be recent enough graduates for you. Sorry about that.

  11. scotthampton

    A friend has two sons that graduated from West Point. One in 2004, the other in 2005. I’m not sure what the best way to get their contact information to you in the event that you’re still needing someone.

  12. stoklos24


    I’m a 1992 US Coast Guard Academy grad with 6 years spent as a Coast Guard officer, if’n you can’t find a West Point grad.


  13. oldskimmy

    West Point research

    My brother not only graduated from West Point, but he recently completed a stint teaching there. After his current duties, he is slated to get his Phd beginning this fall (on the Army’s dime…what a deal) and then return to West Point as a teacher.

    If you would like, I could see if he’d be willing to assist you with your research. Because of his current duties, communication with him would likely only be via e-mail. It seems like you may be more interested in actually talking to someone in person but I thought I’d extend this offer.

  14. admin

    Re: West Point research

    Thanks! I think I’ve got my questions covered for the time being, but there’s a definite chance I’ll be needing more assistance further down the line, if it’s okay for me to get in contact then.

  15. oldskimmy

    Absolutely. I’ll just keep checking your blog here.

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