The Proud

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

America has had a Marine Corps since 1775, and from its founding its members have worked hard to foster a mystique about this elite group. In THE PROUD, journalist Jacob Cohen offers a personal reflection on the current status of the Marines, interspersing a series of interviews and accounts of contemporary and past operations to give readers a sense of how the modern Marine Corps evolved into the fighting force that played a key, if limited, role in the 1991 confrontation with Iraq.

Cohen’s general theme is to explain how the Marine Corps, continually threatened with disbandment by politicians and theorists who believe its role can be performed by the other services, is able to survive and even prosper. His investigation produces some important observations about the unique qualities of this smallest of the services; it also reveals that much of the criticism about the Marines’ redundancy is well founded. What the author looks for throughout is the key to understanding what continues to make the Marine Corps attractive to those who serve and a source of pride for so many other Americans.

Cohen knows his subject well. Over a period of three years, he lived with various Marine units, participating in operations at a major East Coast base, at one of the Corps’ basic training sites, with recruiters in rural America, and overseas. His story is actually the composite tale of diverse individuals: a group of Marine infantry involved in an...

(The entire section is 402 words.)