The Long Gray Line

The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966

Rick Atkinson

Henry Holt and Co.

“Enormously rich in detail and written with a novelist’s brilliance . . . A very moving book.” —James Salter, The Washington Post Book World

A classic of its kind, The Long Gray Line is the twenty-five-year saga of the West Point class of 1966. With a novelist’s eye for detail, Rick Atkinson (author of An Army at Dawn) illuminates this powerful story through the lives of three classmates and the women they loved—from the boisterous cadet years, to the fires of Vietnam, to the hard peace and internal struggles that followed the war. The rich cast of characters also includes Douglas MacArthur, William C. Westmoreland, and a score of other memorable figures. The class of 1966 straddled a fault line in American military history, and Atkinson’s masterly book speaks for a generation of American men and women about innocence, patriotism, and the price we pay for our dreams.

An immediate New York Times bestseller upon its original publication, the twentieth anniversary edition includes a new foreword by the author.


Praise for The Long Gray Line

"Enormously rich in detail and written with a novelist’s brilliance… A very moving book."—James Salter, The Washington Post Book World

"A story of epic proportions [and] awesome feat of biographical reconstruction… A difficult book to put down."—Cullen Murphy, The Boston Globe

"The Long Gray Line is a profoundly moving saga in which the U.S. Military Academy at West Point stands center stage. In mufti or olive drab, at peace or war, amidst joy or grief, in life or death, the academy shapes all. The author has captured its ethos. If you want to see a slice of the nation’s manhood in a drama of troubled times and find its heart, feel its emotions, sense its dilemmas, then read this book. It is a stunning story."—Colin L. Powell

"More of a biography of a generation than of a class at West Point… Stark, shocking, jolting."—John Eisenhower, Chicago Tribune (front page review)

"Journalism elevated to narrative history, a book like Neil Sheehan's Pulitzer Prize-winning A Bright Shining Lie. But better."—USA Today

"A work as masterfully executed as it was conceived."—Philadelphia Inquirer

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Rick Atkinson

  • Rick Atkinson is the bestselling author of An Army at Dawn (winner of the Pulitzer Prize for history), The Day of Battle, The Long Gray Line, In the Company of Soldiers, and Crusade. His many other awards include a Pulitzer Prize for journalism, the George Polk award, and the Pritzker Military Library Literature Award. A former staff writer and senior editor at The Washington Post, he lives in Washington, D.C.
  • Rick Atkinson Photo © Sigrid Estrada
    Rick Atkinson


Rick Atkinson

Macmillan Speakers Bureau

represents thought-provoking authors and experts. We can find a speaker uniquely positioned for your audience and budget.

More info





    Available Formats and Book Details

    The Long Gray Line

    The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966

    Rick Atkinson