Surviving Boot Camp and Basic Training

By Jack Jacobs; David Fisher

Thomas Dunne Books, Hardcover, 9780312622770, 308pp.

Publication Date: May 8, 2012


There is absolutely nothing in the American experience comparable to basic training or boot camp. If you haven't been through it, you can't understand it.

But if you've been through it, you never forget it.

No matter where they live, all American fighting men and women have one thing in common: They have survived basic military training. They've crawled through the swamps on Parris Island, stood in the frigid cold guarding a Dumpster at Great Lakes, struggled to complete fifteen bars on the horizontal ladder to get to the chow hall at Ft. Jackson, fought desperately to stay awake after long days without sleep at Lackland. They were shaved and screamed at, they barely ate, they marched a hundred miles, and they accomplished things they never would have dreamed were possible. They made the epic journey from civilian to soldier in eight weeks and gained a lifetime of memories in the process.

If you've done it, you will recognize the Drill Instructors, the marching chants, the movie segments, the proper way to make a hospital corner, the jokes, the camaraderie and the shared feeling of triumph. And those who haven't done it yet will understand and appreciate this life-changing experience.

"Basic" is the story of that training. Col. Jack Jacobs and David Fisher tell the funny, sad, dramatic, poignant, and sometimes crazy history of how America has trained its military, told through the indelible memories of those who remember the experiences as if they happened yesterday.

About the Author

Barry Fisher is Crime Laboratory Director for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and has worked in various sections within the lab since starting in 1969. He is a distinguished fellow and past president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and served as president of the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors (ASCLD) and the International Association of Forensic Sciences. He is a past chair of the ASCLD Laboratory Accreditation Board. He is a member of several other organizations, including the International Association for Identification, International Association of Chiefs of Police, the California Association of Criminalists, and others. He holds a BS in chemistry from City College of New York, an MS in organic chemistry from Purdue University, and an MBA from California State University, Northridge. He is author of the popular textbook, "Techniques of Crime Scene Investigation, " now in its 7th edition, published by CRC Press.

David Fisher is a Criminalist, Level III in the Department of Forensic Biology at the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in New York City. He is a Diplomate in the American Board of Criminalistics and is a member of the Northeastern Association of Forensic Sciences. David was recently deployed to the Gulf region with the Disaster Mortuary Operation Response Team (DMORT), which is part of the National Disaster Medical System under FEMA to aid in the identification of the victims of Hurricane Katrina. He holds a BS in biochemistry and cell biology from the University of California, San Diego and is currently finishing his MS degree in forensic science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York.

Jason Kolowski is a Criminalist, Level III in the mitochondrial DNA laboratory within the Department of Forensic Biology at the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in New York City. He is also a Diplomate in the American Board of Criminalistics, and a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the Northeastern Association of Forensic Scientists. Jason is a member of the DMORT Region II team under FEMA. Jason attended Cornell College where he earned a dual BA degree in biochemistry/molecular biology and philosophy. Jason earned his master's degree in forensic science in 2003 from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, at the City University of New York.

Praise For Basic

“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, US 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."—Booklist

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

“This is a book about transformation, the transition from civilian to soldier. … With insight and candor, Basic is certain to bring back memories for the 40 million people who have gone through it, and provide a grasp of what it is like for the others who have not.”—Tucson Citizen

“The two authors weave interesting facts and stories about basic training throughout their readable book, with personal accounts from service members interviewed.”—The Fayetteville Observer

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