Marines Corpswide are Hitting the Books

Story by Cpl. Chelsea Flowers Anderson
Edited by Erin Wittkop, Defense Media Activity

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Edward Knudsen, a mortarman with Headquarters Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, studies a mathematics textbook in his sleeping area after a long day of work as an armory custodian on Combat Outpost Torbert in Helmand province, Afghanistan. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder

U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Edward Knudsen, a mortarman with Headquarters Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, studies a mathematics textbook in his sleeping area after a long day of work as an armory custodian on Combat Outpost Torbert in Helmand province, Afghanistan. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Reece Lodder

Marines have always taken pride in their rich history and the valor of Marines who have come before them. The acts of legendary figures like Dan DalyChesty Puller and John Ripley have inspired Marines for decades. Now, Marines Corps-wide will continue to revel in their history as they tackle the books on the Commandant’s Professional Reading List.

In ALMARS 001/13, the commandant refocuses Marines on reading through the revision of the Commandant’s Professional Reading List. Each year, Marines are required to read at least three books from the “Commandant’s Choice” books,  the levels based on ranks or the category sections.

All Marines must read the “Commandant’s Choice” books: “A Message to Garcia,” “Leading Marines,” “The Warrior Ethos” and “Warfighting.”

“These are books the commandant thought had value and were important for all Marines to read and understand,” said Maj. Michael Margolis, Professional Program Branch head in the Lejeune Institute of Marine Corps University at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

| More: Access the First Lady of the Marine Corps’ reading list for military families |

The books on the Commandant’s Professional Reading List vary in content, length and difficulty, but each have an important role in shaping the thought process of Marines.

“These books provide a baseline for us all to know and understand,” Margolis said. “We have a common base to go back to. We understand our history and where we came from, and this expands on that. If we’ve all read those books, we have a common point of reference that we can relate to.”

The recommended books for each rank are provided to suit the development of a Marine.

How Marines will prove they have completed their mandatory reading is up to the commander’s discretion, but Margolis recommends senior leaders engage with their Marines about the books.

“Just talk about them and have a conversation about the books,” Margolis said. “These books can start a conversation not just about these books, but about other Marine Corps-related things, too.”

For Marines who haven’t read more than the back of a cereal box in years, never fear. The official Commandant’s Professional Reading List website has all the information you need to get started. It features discussion questions for senior Marines and book summaries, as well as how Marines can obtain hard copies, digital copies and audio formats for the books. Many of these books are available online through the website at no cost. The website also has an official Twitter handle for you to follow: @USMCReadingList.

For Margolis, whose favorite book on the Commandant’s Professional Reading List is Marine! The Life of Chesty Puller, reading these books helps him tap into the thought processes of Marines of the past so he can continue to live up to the legacy of the Corps.

“We’re creating the history of the Marine Corps now,” Margolis said. “And knowing where we came from helps us to carry that legacy. It’s not just us. We’re contributing to something greater than ourselves.”

Click here to access the official site of the Commandant’s Professional Reading List. 

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