Backbone by Julia Dye | Books in Review

Julia Dye’s new book, Backbone: History, Traditions, and Leadership Lessons from Marine Corps NCOs (Osprey 234 pp., $24.95), lives up to its subtitle. This is a readable, informative book-length essay on what Dye identifies as fourteen “specific attributes or leadership traits” that make great Marine NCOs, “the core of the Corps, ” as she puts it.

“These leadership traits, ” Dye writes, “are reinforced to Marines at every level of their training. Good NCOs teach these traits every day through the example of their own leadership.”

In the book, Dye—the co-director of Warriors, Inc., the number one Hollywood military technical adviser group—offers incisive profiles of Marines who exemplify the individual traits. The list includes unselfishness, dependability, endurance, knowledge, judgement, decisiveness, integrity, loyalty and courage. Several are Vietnam veterans.

In the chapter on unselfishness, she looks at Terry Anderson, who is best known for having spent nearly seven years as a hostage in Beirut. In the chapter on integrity Dye features Carlos Hathcock, the famed Vietnam War sniper.

Dye’s first book,  C ode Word: Geronimo ,  a graphic novel depicting the capture of Osama Bin Laden, co-written with her husband Dale Dye,  was published in September.
Her website is


— Marc Leepson

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