Elite Souls — Portraits of Valor in Iraq and Afghanistan
By Raymond James Raymond
Naval Institute Press
Copyright 2022 Raymond James Raymond
Hardcover, 378 pp.
The great nineteenth century French military thinker, Ardant du Picq, argued that selfless courage is rooted in a higher moral purpose, and is found among “Elite Souls.” This is a book about five such “Elite Souls,” all highly decorated young West Point graduates and recipients of the USMA’s Ninninger Medal.
Elite Souls outlines the importance of building and developing moral character in military leaders, while arguing that a rigorous academic education is also essential in creating young officers capable of the kind of creative and critical thinking necessary in the complicated wars of the twenty-first century. Dr. Raymond suggests that West Point’s servant-leader model is critical in fostering the kind of intense selflessness ideally seen between junior officers, their NCOs, and soldiers. Finally, Elite Souls makes the case that inspirational commanding officers are also key.
In this book, Dr. Ray Raymond argues that each of the recipients of the Ninninger Award entered West Point primarily for moral reasons and that the Academy's rigorous academic, military, and developmental methods strengthened those values. West Point produced young military leaders who were exceptionally well-educated and trained to deal with the complex challenges of war in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early twenty first century.