The Warriors Ethos': Book Report

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The book entitled The Warriors Ethos by author and United States Marine Corps veteran Stephen Pressfield exemplifies true meaning behind a code that we as Marines and warfighters should strive to not only follow but epitomize. If I were to explain the boo using a quote from it i would use,“The Warrior Ethos embodies certain virtues—courage, honor, loyalty, integrity, selflessness and others-”. The book better explains to the reader these virtues using various themes and historical events which in turn explains why it is exactly we do the things we do and how we can better embody values that will make us better individuals and Marines by its use of historical examples, storytelling, and themes.The book itself is a collection of stories ranging from the times of Ancient Sparta to modern day stories and situations that are current such as terrorist groups in the Middle East. The stories are organized into chapters that teach us about morals and warrior codes. The book is kept simple with the chaapter titles even being titled after their subjects, for example, “Right and Wrong” is about battlefield regret or shame and what builds our sense of morally right and wrong. The book also starts us off from the beginning with the first chapter “Tough Mothers” which is about the childhood that the world’s greatest warriors (until the United States Marines) endured leading to their path of warriorhood which can still relate to the unique childhoods that people who become Marines often endure, like the Spartans leading to their path of warriorhood.

The Warriors Ethos includes themes such as the importance of honor, you are controlling your future, brotherhood, strength in solid foundations, and dedication to mission rather it be combat, training, or even just a regular goal. The theme of the importance of honor is expressed with the stories of the Spartans at Thermopylae and several other battles. It is shown through the expressions and saying of mothers who told their sons before the dawn of battle quotations such as “Come back with this, or on it” as she handed her son his shield implying that he come back victorious or dead. Dedication to the mission is also a recurring theme in the book which heavily relates to Marines. Stephen Pressfield shows historical examples of how leaders such as Alexander the Great of Macedon willingly spent years away from home with his troops to accomplish his mission of controlling a vast empire, he also kept morale up as well by sacrificing the comforts he had asking his men. This ties into the Marine Corps leadership principle of set the example. Other themes tie into Marine Corps leadership principles as well, leaders such as Leonidas, Alexander the Great, and Rommel the German general who led the Afrika Korps during World War II. All these leaders shared a common principle of keeping their men informed, Alexander even going as far to have meetings with his lower enlisted as a king much like your Senior Drill Instructor has his “ted talk” time, This kept spirits high and his forces at peak fighting effectiveness because of their boosted unit cohesion that was also positively affected.

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The lessons we learn from this book as Marines hit deep and can motivate even the saltiest of Lance Corporals. Reading the Warrior Ethos brought me back to the moment I received my Eagle, Globe, and Anchor and all those Marine Corps sayings hit me as I began to reminisce. Through the course of the war in history, a few lessons are quite clear, war never changes, we must train how we fight, and the warrior breed never changes. These relate to us as Marines in many ways, like the youths of Ancient Sparta many of us spent our early childhood fighting on a playground and growing up in an environment where work meant food on the table. With war never changing, we can see the importance of these lessons to us.

In summary, the Warrior Ethos is an excellent book and the lessons it teaches and reinforces in us in only a short 86 pages makes it pretty clear why it’s on the Commandant's Reading list. I would strongly recommend this book to any marine regardless of rank or time in service. The book not only reinstills lessons taught to us since the beginning of our Marine Corps career that we some have begun to lose, but it also adds value and some may say a boost into what one might call a marines motivation. Every Marine is not only a better fighter and leader but a better individual once they understand the true meaning behind what they do, that along with the various themes is what I believe any reader should take away from this book.

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The Warriors Ethos’: Book Report. (2022, November 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 20, 2024, from
“The Warriors Ethos’: Book Report.” Edubirdie, 25 Nov. 2022,
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