THE BLACK, THE GRAY, AND THE GOLD by Norman R. Ford

THE BLACK, THE GRAY, AND THE GOLD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A first novel makes the fictional most of an actual incident-the dismissal of some 90 cadets from West Point in 1951, which is also the time here. Along with the built-in drama of the episode, this is an informed institutional look (Ford) went to West Point) at the aristocracy of the Army, its impregnable tradition- or is it a system-, and much of the courage and gratuitous cruelty (the hazings, crawlings, etc.) it has bred. The book opens here with the day that 112 cadets will be interrogated on a charge of cheating- a violator of the Honor Code, which has had the tacit approval of the authorities ever since it had been necessary to provide a winning football team. Colonel Philipbar has ordered the investigation, and chosen Major George Landseer, newly arrived at the Point, to serve on the board. A good deal of the tension here results from an old enmity- Philipbar's jealousy of Landseer (Philipbar's wife had been in love with Landseer as a girl, and had married him only to secure a father for Landseer's child), and Landseer's earlier victimization by Philipbar and his obedience to the Honor Code, now under question, which had made a broken man of him for life. As the investigation proceeds, and there are many close to both of them involved (the cadet Philipbar's daughter loves; Adam Philipbar- actually Landseer's son; etc.), Landseer comes to the defense of the boys who are less guilty than the authorities, learns that the Academy must be served first- justice second... While perhaps not on the closest terms with literature, there are strong story values here; the characterization, while not subtle, is tempered; and it is a book which has many popular salients. As such, it may not be as well remembered as End as a Man but, with the publisher's endorsement, it may be more widely read now.

Pub Date: Aug. 7th, 1961
Publisher: Doubleday