Basic: Surviving Boot Camp and Basic Training

St. Martin's Griffin

Every American fighting man and woman share one thing in common: they have all survived basic military training. Basic tells the story of that training. Medal of Honor recipient Col. Jack Jacobs and David Fisher recount the funny, sad, dramatic, poignant, and sometimes crazy history of how America has trained its military, told through the personal accounts of those who remember the experiences as if they happened yesterday.

If you’ve been through basic or boot camp, these memories of drill instructors, marching chants, combat training (and the “gas chamber”), hospital corners, and the shared feeling of triumph are guaranteed to make you smile. And those who haven’t done it will understand and appreciate this life-changing experience that turns a civilian into a soldier—and in just eight weeks.


Read an Excerpt

If It Moves, Salute It: Welcome to Initial Military Training

You’re in the army now, you’re not behind a plow;
You’ll never get rich, by digging a ditch
You’re in the army now.
—traditional army marching chant

Congress judging it of the greatest importance to prescribe some invariable rules for the order and discipline of the troops, especially for the purpose of introducing an uniformity in their formation and maneuvers, and in the service of the camp: ORDERED, That the following regulations be observed by all the troops of the United


Praise for Basic: Surviving Boot Camp and Basic Training

"Bootcamp was the toughest and most rewarding experience of my life. This book captures those moments. It is authentic, entertaining, and often funny as hell."

—Corporal Brian Dennehy (Ret.), Parris Island, 1959


“The unique transition from civilian to soldier has always generated tall tales...about the environment, the changes, and of course the ever-present drill sergeant who changes your life. While the portrayed events usually grow with exaggeration and some added humor as Soldiers grow older, Jack Jacobs and Dave Fisher have captured the ‘war stories’ of basic training in a uniquely hilarious and moving way. Well done, gentlemen and patriots!”

—Mark Hertling, Former Deputy Commander for Initial Military Training, U.S. Army


"Movies and television shows have taught us to think of boot camp as a grueling physical

challenge—and it is that—but what we take away here is a deeper understanding of the punishing

psychological component as recruits learn to box up their individuality in favor of conformity and the

unfaltering following of orders."



"Provides a clear and sometimes mordantly amusing overview of the training experience, punctuating it with personal accounts from soldiers."

Kirkus Reviews


Praise for If Not Now, When?:


“It’s a privilege to call [Col. Jack Jacobs] a friend and an honor to recommend this remarkable life story.”—Tom Brokow

“One warning: The book you are about to read, at its core, is a story about selflessness, sacrifice, and service. I will never view my friend Jack in the same way again. I just didn’t think it was possible to admire him any more than I already did.”—Brian Williams


Reviews from Goodreads



  • In addition to his Medal of Honor, Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.) received three Bronze Stars and two Silver Stars. He is the Vice Chairman of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, holds the McDermott Chair of Humanities and Public Affairs at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and is an on-air analyst for NBC News. He is author of the Colby Award–winning memoir, If Not Now, When? He lives in New Jersey.

    David Fisher is the author of more than fifty books, including sixteen New York Times bestsellers. He lives in New York.

  • David Fisher


David Fisher

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    Basic: Surviving Boot Camp and Basic Training



    St. Martin's Griffin