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THE MARINES, edited by Edwin Howard Simmons and J. Robert Moskin, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation and Hugh Lauter Levin Associates, Inc., 360 pages, $75.

The editors of this handsome book state up-front that their goal was to create “The most beautiful and most comprehensive word-and-picture book ever produced about the United States Marine Corps.” In that they have succeeded.

The work is comprehensive in scope, with a chronology of all Marine operations, a complete history of all the campaigns, commandants and sergeants major, uniforms, music, and weaponry, plus an account of how Hollywood has portrayed the corps, a look at the units today, and an outline of the corps’ goals for the twenty-first century. It is to the editors’ credit, however, that they do not overlook the Marines’ initial disdain for both blacks and females within their ranks, though now both groups serve with distinction, and as general officers, no less.

The book also tells in detail how the famous Marine Corps War Memorial came to be built in Washington, D.C., including what happened to the actual Iwo Jima flag-raisers and the photographer who took the Pulitzer Prize-winning picture that Life magazine initially rejected for publication.

This sumptuous, well-bound, oversized book is everything that any Leatherneck (and anyone interested in them) could ever hope for in a one-volume study.

Blaine Taylor is a freelance writer from Towson, Maryland, and author of three books.