IVORY FORTRESS by Richard C. U'Ren


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U'Ren's harsh indictment of West Point is clearer and more accessible than Ellis and Moore's School for Soldiers (KR, p. 977); moreover, U'Ren's position as academy psychiatrist provided him with a better perspective on cadets' social needs. He finds many practices carried to absurd excess: uniformity, indoctrination (he compares it to Communist China), initiation (the casualties are like those of combat), regulations (""oppressive"" for plebes), deliberate harassment by superiors (one ordered a cadet to ""carry that banana like a rifle""). U'Ren finds the institution fraught with contradictions: in training ""leaders"" it eliminates initiative and self-reliance; committed to ""liberal education,"" it permits little academic freedom (""it fosters an indifference to truth. And to do that is to undermine the real basis of integrity and honor""); devoted to an honor system, it often violates it or administers it hypocritically, then covers these acts up (remember General Koster). The dating policies and attitudes ""foster both chauvinism and dependence on women."" Indeed, U'Ren characterizes the graduate as ""an incompletely developed individual, one who had found in the institutions of West Point and marriage surrogate parents. . . ."" To those who insist that nevertheless the academy produces great leaders, U'Ren poses the question, was it because of or in spite of their training? Academic and social changes, he argues, are inevitable. Written with authority and perception.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1974
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill