Through words and pictures, J. F. Leahy chronicles the transition of eighty-one men and women from civilians to sailors at the U.S. Navy Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois. Revealing a side of today's youth that many will find surprising, his examination of the unique American institution--popularly known as boot camp--offers a look into the hearts and minds of a group of young people who are a cross section of the nation. The work sheds light on the controversy over gender integration and helps bridge the gap between the military services and the society they serve.
During the autumn of 2000, the author was granted unlimited and unprecedented access to the recruits from the time they arrived at Chicago's airport until their graduation. Observing their training evolutions first hand, he interviewed them at every opportunity and surveyed them through a series of his own specially designed reaction papers. He watched them as they struggled through obstacle courses and learned how to fight shipboard fires. He listened as they shared their feelings, and he cheered them on as they faced the challenges of ""Battle Stations"" and tested their physical, mental, and moral preparations before entering the fleet. Leahy also shared their pride at the final parade and graduation ceremonies. Both eye-opening and inspiring, his guide will be valuable to future recruits and those who influence them, as well as those who have been there and want a reminder of that special time in their lives.