Often times, we talk about physical preparation for Marine Corps Officer Candidate School. However, it is just as important to prepare mentally for the difficult ordeal that is OCS. Here is a Marine OCS reading list designed to mentally prepare and motivate you to succeed while at Quantico. Let’s get started with the reading list:
“One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer” by Nathaniel Fick: The title really says it all in this book, “The Making of a Marine Officer”. Nathaniel Fick describers his complete journey from a junior in college preparing for 10-week Platoon Leaders Course, all the way to his time as a Recon Marine platoon leader during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. If we could recommend one book for the potential Marine Officer Candidate to read, it would absolutely be “One Bullet Away”, because of the detail it talks about OCS and the motivation factors as well. There are multiple chapters devoted to Nathaniel Fick’s time spent at Officer Candidate School as well as The Basic School, which is excellent for OCS preparation.
“Joker One: A Marine Platoon’s Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood” by Donovan Campell: “Joker One” is the story of Donovan Campbell, a Platoon Commander in Ramadi, Iraq during it’s most violent period of 2004, which also includes details on his reasons for choosing the Marine Corps, his Officer Candidate School experience and TBS. The book is mostly focused on the combat experiences and his relationship with the Marines under his command. There isn’t as much information or insight into Officer Candidate School as there is in “One Bullet Away”, so be prepared for that when reading.
“Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell: Lone Survivor is the story of Marcus Luttrell, a United States Navy SEAL and the only surviving member of Operation Red Wing. Initially part of a 4-member SEAL sniper team, his team was ambushed in the mountains of Afghanistan by a contingent of around 100 Taliban. Not only was every member of his team killed in action, but a rescue helicopter of SEALS sent to assist the team was also shot down. Lone Survivor not only describes Luttrell’s harrowing mission, but his life building up to becoming a Navy SEAL, including training at Basic Underwater Demolition school. While “Lone Survivor” doesn’t have anything to do with Marine Corps Officer Candidate School, it’s one of the most motivating books you’ll ever read and a true story of courage!
“One of Us: Officers of Marines–Their Training, Traditions, and Values” by Jack Ruppert: This is the first and only book that I am aware of that is specifically dedicated towards Marine Corps Officer Candidate School, explaining the experience and showing prospective candidates what it’s like. The only downside to this book is the price tag, it’s $62.95. However, if you’re a candidate who’s serious about OCS and wants to know exactly what to expect, this book will certainly help answer many questions that you might have as well as give you actual statements from past candidates interviewed by Jack Ruppert.
In the words of one reviewer on Amazon, “One of Us” is great preperation for OCS/PLC.
This book is a must read for the serious Marine Officer Candidate. If you are headed that direction and keep asking yourself “what can I expect at OCS?” This is the book will answer many of those questions. I agree that this book is not for everyone with a $50 price tag, but it’s purpose isn’t to suit the mainstream reader. If your goal is to become an Officer of Marines and you want to know what you’ll have to endure to get there, then this book is a great tool to help get you mentally prepared. It opens your eyes to the stressful and chaotic environment you will encounter.
“Why Marines Fight” by James Brady: This book is a collection of stories and interviews from multiple generations of Marines speaking about what the title implies, Why Marines Fight. It’s a great book to read in order to get a sense of the pride, honor and tradition associated with the Marine Corps and the brotherhood it holds. Most of the interviewees were from earlier generations, such as World War II and the Korean War, but it’s books like this that help candidates understand and relish the history of the Marine Corps.
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