Drawing on complete, unprecedented access to West Point and its cadets, David Lipsky explores the academy's rich history, describes the demanding regimen that swallows students' days, and examines the Point as a reflection of our society. Is it a quaint anachronism, or does it still embody the ideals of equality, honesty, and loyalty that moved Theodore Roosevelt to proclaim it the most "absolutely American" institution? Lipsky tackles these questions through superbly crafted portraits of cadets and the elite officers who mold them, following them into classrooms, barracks, mess halls, and military exercises. His reportage extends from 1998 through 2002, arguably the most eventful four years in West Point history. He witnesses the end of hazing, the arrival of TV and telephones in dorm rooms, the exposure and concealment of several scandals, and the dramatic aftermath of 9/11. He depicts young people of every race and class, and details a rigorous training program that erases their preconceptions and makes them a tight-knit community.