The Worlds of R. A. Hortz
A Civilian's Guide to the U.S. Military

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A Civilian's Guide to the U.S. Military

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A Civilian's Guide to the U.S. Military
A Comprehensive Reference to the Customs, Language, and Structure of the Armed Forces
By Barbara Schading, with Richard Schading and Virginia Slayton
Writer's Digest Books, 2007
ISBN: 978-1-58297-408-8

Reviewed by Sheldon Ztvordokov - Posted February 14, 2012

As the title suggests, A Civilian's Guide to the U.S. Military is a A Comprehensive Reference to the Customs, Language, and Structure of the Armed Forces. In short, this book succinctly outlines the structure, customs, and phraseology and acronyms associated with the U.S. Military. The information presented in this book is intended to give the uninitiated reader an insider's glimpse into the military and many of its seemingly arcane behaviors. This informative guide was written by Barbara Schading, PhD, with Richard Schading a retired U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant and Virginia Slayton, a U.S. Army Nurse who retired as a Major.

The text is organized into ten thematic chapters, followed by several practical glossaries and appendixes that cover such topics as common military abbreviations and acronyms, military slang, and lists of military rank, pay grades, and insignia of the various U.S. Military branches. The first chapter in this book provides a general overview of military rank and protocol and touches upon the role of women in the American military. One chapter is devoted to each of the five branches of the U.S. Military, namely the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Coast Guard. Each of these chapters on the various branches contains information on the organization, history, rank and uniforms, training, and when applicable, each branch's military academy is also discussed. Unique features and programs in each branch are also covers such as the Navy's Seebees, the Marines Toys for Tots program, the U.S. Army Band, and the Air Force Fighter Weapons School. An additional chapter is devoted to the U.S. Special Operations Forces from the various branches such as the Army Rangers, the Green Berets, Delta Force, the Marine Recons, and U.S. Navy Seals.

The final three chapters are Overall, A Civilian's Guide to the U.S. Military provides a detailed and accessible introduction to the U.S. Military. The information in this book is not as detailed as you'll find in texts such as the Blue Jacket Manual - a book that is (or at least was, when I was in) given to Navy recruits or other branch specific manuals. This book is not intended to be a comprehensive guide to the U.S. Military. Rather, it is an introductory text and in that regard it is excellent! You'll find a wealth of information such as the motto's of various military groups, outlines of training procedures for special forces operatives as well as for new recruits. You'll also find numerous statistics and descriptions of military equipment from various jet aircraft to hand guns. Best of all the information in this text is very accessible and easy to understand, and for those that require additional information on a given subject, this book will give you direction on what to search for using such handy tools as an internet search engine. You'll also find that the authors' have included a list of internet resources at the end of the book, which will also help you to explore the topics discussed in this book, in greater detail.

While this book is primarily geared toward average citizens seeking to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the U.S. Military, it will prove particularly useful to writers seeking to infuse their stories or articles with accurate information and ambience. For example, do you know the difference between an Abrams Tank and a Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle? Do you know the words to the Navy Hymn or the Air Force Song? Who are the only enlisted service members that are allowed to carry a sword? You'll be able to answer all these questions after reading this book!

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