A rousing tour of an elite assault force whose esprit and famed feats of arms retain considerable value in a high-tech era when US soldiery can engage in the moral equivalent of push-button warfare. Cohen (a contributing editor to Parenting magazine), who did a hitch in the peacetime Army, spent three years off and on with Marines at duty stations ranging from a recruiting office in the Connecticut boondocks to a troop ship on NATO maneuvers offshore Italy. He spoke with drill instructors at the USMC's Parris Island boot camp; NCOs as well as officers undergoing combat training in the swamps of coastal North Carolina; the Marine Corps' commandant (General Al Gray); weapons specialists; ""helo drivers"" (i.e., helicopter pilots); a former leatherneck who saw continuous action in WW II's Pacific theater; the wives whom Marines leave behind when they deploy from outposts in Hawaii or other remote venues; and veterans of the Desert Storm campaign. Having shared the Marines' typically hard lot on night marches and allied exercises, Cohen came to understand what underlies the high semper fi morale and first-to-fight standards that distinguish the Marine Corps from other branches of America's armed services. Nor does he underestimate the difficulties faced by those who periodically attempt to disband the USMC in the name of economy or efficiency--a move invariably blocked, among other reasons, because of the many Corps alumni scattered throughout the federal government, show biz, and other influential sectors. While aware of the Marine Corps' problems and occasionally checkered record, Cohen concludes that there's always a role in national defense for ""people who really believe they are ready for anything...."" A lively, like-it-is, full-dress-blue tribute to as unique a band of warriors as ever graced the pages of military history.