By Sgt Michael C. Volkin
Format: Paperback and e-book
Publication Date: May 30 2005
Available at: CLICK HERE
Reviewed for Keeping Apace by Byron D. Varner, CDR, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
Initially, wannabe soldiers who read this book may be awestruck by the depth of material presented and the fact may dawn upon them that basic training is a lot tougher and more challenging than any of them may have contemplated. Anyone who has ever undergone this initial transitional training from civilian life to military service never forgets the experience nor the results - nor the exhilarating feeling they had the day they successfully completed it.
In this particular case, however, Sgt Volkin gives ample warning and many practical guidelines for that ultimate “success” - for those who take it seriously enough to spend a minimum of eight weeks on their own time in preparation for what in essence may be their official rite of passage from childhood to adulthood.
This book is so comprehensive, practical, and easy to understand that those contemplating joining the Army (or any of the services, for that matter) would do themselves a great favor by buying it well in advance of their intended enlistment date, and learning its every detail - particularly the physical fitness exercises - before arrival at basic training.
While there is no magic to the process of turning an overweight, undisciplined teenager into the nucleus of a military fighting machine, it may seem like magic to the parents who attend a son’s or daughter’s “graduation” from this nine-weeks that changed the new soldiers’ lives, or when the parents saw them for the first time when they came home on leave.
As if by magic, the looks, demeanor, and habits of their “child” had morphed into a fit and trim disciplined adult, fluent in a new and different language known as “military speak.” Not surprisingly, some parents could hardly recognize this former child at first glance. But it was not magic… just a hell of a lot of work by dedicated drill sergeants.
A month following the tragedy of 9-11, author Michael Volkin’s vow to “serve my country” led him to basic training for the transition to this “different world full of unknown exercises and acronyms, where you can’t eat or talk without permission.” He began taking notes on “everything and anything, with the hope that no one else would have to go through basic training like I did - completely unarmed with knowledge.” He immediately began taking notes.
Later, during his deployment to fight in Operation Enduring/Iraqi Freedom, he organized his notes during off hours and augmented them with statements from hundreds of other soldiers’ comments on their basic training experiences. Following 13 months deployment he compiled this incredible, easy-to-read The Ultimate Basic Training Guidebook. “Its more than just a book,” Volkin said, “its my way of helping soldiers succeed, which in turn will help the Army succeed.”
I salute you, Sgt Volkin, for a great book and your continuing service to your country! I hope it becomes a best seller. Even though it is designed for the new recruit, no doubt many of those who have gone through this unique military experience will enjoy reading it… in retrospect of the “good old days.”