Authors: Amy Efaw
Table of Contents
the raw materials—brains, talent, drive. But that’s not enough to make it through this place. A thousand kids walked through Thayer Gate four weeks ago, with the same stuff that you have. But guess what? Not all of them are here today! And you know why? Because this place is hard, Davis. It takes more than a high SAT score and a varsity letter. It takes self-discipline. Not the rules that West Point puts on you, but the rules you put on
. That’s what character is all about. Slamming doors when you’re mad isn’t self-discipline. Making excuses for poor performance, even when they’re true, isn’t self-discipline. Feeling sorry for yourself isn’t self-discipline.”
“Yes, sir.” I started to feel a little better. This place, I realized, wasn’t anything like home. Here, all the name calling and yelling had a purpose, a purpose aimed to give us character, not to hurt us.
“I can’t imagine you being a quitter, Davis. But if that’s what you want, I can’t make you stay. But I can make you think about it.”
OTHER BOOKS YOU MAY ENJOY
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First published in the United States of America by HarperCollins Publishers, 2000
Published by Speak, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, 2010
Copyright © Amy Efaw, 2000
All rights reserved
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
Battle dress / Amy Efaw
Summary: As a newly arrived freshman at West Point, seventeen-year-old Andi
finds herself gaining both confidence and self-esteem as she struggles to get through
the grueling six weeks of training for new cadets known as the Beast.
[1. United States Military Academy—Fiction.
2. Military education—New York (State)—West Point—Fiction.
3. Self-confidence—Fiction. 4. Interpersonal relations—Fiction.] 1. Title.
PZ7.E273Bat 2000 99-34516
[Fic]—dc21 CIP AC
eISBN : 978-1-101-47800-4
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume
any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
TO ALL MY A’S:
THE FIRST FOR BELIEVING,
THE MIDDLE THREE FOR ENDURING,
AND THE LAST FOR WAITING
is fiction. This is not to say, however, that the story does not contain elements of truth. As my good friend the writer Doris Orgel has said, fiction often draws from an author’s memories, imaginings, and aspects of actual people and events. Indeed, one cannot experience a place like West Point and later write about it without reflecting upon that experience in some way. But no character I’ve portrayed in my story was based exclusively upon any one person I have ever known.
In writing this book, I have simplified West Point’s organizational structure. Most notably, nowhere are officers or noncommissioned officers mentioned. Though West Point is largely run by cadets, an entire hierarchy of active-duty officers and noncommissioned officers oversees everything. I have also attempted to minimize confusion about the cadet chain of command by ignoring the many staff positions. Additionally, I’ve combined the two leadership positions of Platoon Leader and Platoon Sergeant into one; I felt the subtle differences between the two would be lost on readers unfamiliar with the Army structure. Finally, though the cadet leadership normally changes halfway through Cadet Basic Training, I’ve stuck with Cadet Daily and the rest of H Company’s upperclassmen so as not to disrupt the story’s trajectory or cause the reader unnecessary confusion.
The writing of this book was not a solitary endeavor but a combined one. I’d like to offer thank-yous to the following people for their contributions, which made my book the best that it could be. To my parents, Elizabeth Moudry and David L. Blanchard, for instilling in me the drive to excel, which led me to West Point in the first place. To my editor, Alix Reid, who, with skilled strokes of her pen, made me dig deeper. To Kristin Gilson, my paperback editor at Penguin/Speak, for so graciously allowing me to make subtle changes to the text, and to Eileen Kreit and all the great designers for giving
an awesome new look—thank you, thank you, thank you! To my faithful New Jersey critique group: Christine Hill, Dorothy Stanaitis, Barbara Stavetski, and Martha Fenoglio, for all those long-distance critiques. To Jan Cheripko for planting the seed that became this story. To Doris Orgel for her enthusiastic response to my work and for pushing me in the right direction. To Ed Ruggero for his advice and encouragement. To Lieutenant Colonel Julian Olejniczak at the Association of Graduates and to Cadets Kristen Bowles, Scott Akerley, Barbara Antis, Will Canda, Bryan Duncan, B. J. Moore, John Hohng, and Brien Tsien for their help. To God through Whom all inspiration is given. And, of course, to Andy—’nuff said.
Because “Beast” at its core has changed very little over the years, I have slightly modified the text of the 2010 paperback edition of the book to reflect a more mid-2000s time period rather than the mid-1990s of the 2000 and 2003 versions. But the characters and the story have remained exactly the same. Readers probably won’t even notice the changes!
BEAST CHAIN OF COMMAND
You cannot choose your battlefield,
The gods do that for you,
But you can plant a standard
Where a standard never flew.
—NATHALIA CRANE, “THE COLORS”
FRIDAY, JUNE 25 7:15 A.M.
Your momma was home and you left.
Your daddy was home and you left.
That’s the reason you left.