Before we can review our first book, we have to address the question of, "why read in the first place?"
General Mattis answered a similar question when a colleague emailed him asking about the importance of reading for Marine Officers, especially those who were "too busy to read."
General Mattis replied, "The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men's experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others' experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.
Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn't give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead...Ultimately, a real understanding of history means that we face NOTHING new under the sun."
We couldn't have said it better ourselves.
One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick is an excellent place to start for a current or future Marine Officer.
Fick starts his story in college, and takes the reader through his experiences at Officer Candidates School, The Basic School, and Infantry Officer Course. Fick's detailed and personal account
of the training pipeline provides valuable lessons and takeaways that are beneficial to any Marine, and illustrate what the Marine Corps instills and expects out of its leaders.
Upon reaching the fleet, Fick served as a Platoon Commander in Afghanistan immediately following the 9/11 attacks. While back in the United States following his tour in Afghanistan, Fick attended Marine Reconnaissance training and Army Airborne School.
He subsequently commanded Second Platoon of Bravo Company , 1st Recon Battalion , serving as the tip of the spear for the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
What we liked most about One Bullet Away , is the perspective of a young Platoon Commander, at times overwhelmed and unsure, fighting a shadowy enemy and dealing with a chain of command that only made things worse. Fick and his platoon were among the first Marines in Iraq and were confronted with a country and a civilian populace that were completely unfamiliar to them.
In addition, Fick was forced to navigate both the politics inherent to leadership and issues with other officers and NCOs in Bravo Company. Through his writing, the nuances of war become more clear, and the reader can follow the leadership development of an increasingly competent Marine Officer.
Lastly, One Bullet Away provides the reader with a clear perspective on an often convoluted war as portrayed in the media and common discourse. If you want to hear about it from the guys that actually did it, check out the book.
In 2008, HBO made One Bullet Away into the hit miniseries "Generation Kill," but we recommend reading the book first.
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