Books by Thomas E. Ricks

Released: May 23, 2017

"A superb account of two men who set standards for defending liberal democracy that remain disturbingly out of reach."
A joint biography of two men who "led the way, politically and intellectually, in responding to the twin totalitarian threats of fascism and communism" in the mid-20th century. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 30, 2012

"Informed readers, especially military buffs, will appreciate this provocative, blistering critique of a system where accountability appears to have gone missing—like the author's 2006 bestseller, Fiasco, this book is bound to cause heartburn in the Pentagon."
Foreign Policy contributing editor Ricks (The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-2008, 2009, etc.) assesses the state of generalship in the U.S. Army and finds it wanting. Read full book review >
A SOLDIER’S DUTY by Thomas E. Ricks
Released: May 22, 2001

"Fast, sharp, and tight: a winner."
A Pentagon thriller from military journalist Ricks (Making the Corps, 1997), who weaves a crooked tale of ambition, deceit, and treason out of the dull khaki strands of Army life. The fulcrum of the tale is a civilian, President Jim Shick, a conservative Republican (and former intelligence officer) who shocks the brass by slashing the military budget by some $20 billion a year—and infuriates the rank and file by deploying US forces to hot spots across the globe as if they were pawns in a game of chess. Majors Cindy Sherman and Bud Lewis watch the proceedings with long faces from their Pentagon desks, but as aides-de-camp for senior generals they are duty-bound to have no opinion of their commander-in-chief. That cannot be said of many of their colleagues in the officer corps, however, and Sherman and Lewis soon become aware of a shadowy group calling itself the Sons of Liberty—military officers who conduct secret protests and rapidly advance to the brink of outright mutiny against the White House. In the course of their investigations, Sherman and Lewis fall in love, but the situation soon becomes too tense for romance as America faces the prospect of the first military coup in its history. Read full book review >
MAKING THE CORPS by Thomas E. Ricks
Released: Nov. 1, 1997

Wall Street Journal Pentagon correspondent Ricks effectively combines a vivid account of the rigorous basic training received by US Marine recruits with commentary on what separates the demanding, disciplined culture of America's military elite from the more permissive culture of its civilian society. The author tracks the 60-odd volunteers who comprised Platoon 3086 at Parris Island i 1995 through the challenging 11-week course known as boot camp. Unlike their counterparts in other branches of the US military, aspiring marines do not train alongside women; nor do they have access to alcohol, automobiles, candy, cigarettes, drugs, or various other diversions dear to the hearts of young American males. Ricks offers anecdotal evidence on what USMC recruits must endure in the way of indoctrination from fearsome (but no longer gratuitously brutal) drill instructors in the deep piney woods where apprentice warriors get their first taste of what combat is like, and in other invariably sweaty venues. He goes on to review the washout rate of 14 percent or so (which thins 3086's ranks to 55 by graduation day), the ongoing debate on ever-tougher entrance requirements (which probably cost the corps some superior fighting men), and the army's purposefully ``user-friendly'' training regimen (which reportedly neither instills esprit nor prepares soldiers to do battle). Covered as well is the risk that alienation could induce cream-of-the-crop troops like marines to take a more forceful role in the governance of the nation they are pledged to protect, if not engage in an outright coup. The author argues that it behooves America's largely oblivious middle and upper classes to take a more direct interest in their military. A revelatory briefing on what sets the USMC apart and the consequences of its superiority during a postCold War era when, for all the talk of peace dividends, the wider world remains an armed and dangerous place. (16 pages photos, maps, not seen) (Radio satellite tour) Read full book review >