From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Campbell decided as a junior at Princeton that attending Marine Corps Officer Candidate School would look good on his résumé. Three years later, in the spring of 2004, he was in Iraq commanding a platoon known by its radio call sign, Joker One. Campbell tells its story, and his, in an outstanding narrative of the Iraq War. Joker One counted around 40 dudes: country boys and smalltown jocks; a few Hispanics and a single black. Some were college men with futures; some had pasts they preferred to forget. The battalion was assigned to one of Iraq's worst hot spots: the city of Ramadi, where faceless enemies found shelter among 350,000 Iraqi civilians. Joker One fought from street to street, house to house and ambush to ambush for seven straight months. By the end of the tour, even the Gunny's hands had started ceaselessly shaking, Campbell writes. Faced with urgent life-and-death decisions, Campbell had learned that there are no great options... you live with the results and shut up about the whole thing. For all his constant self-questioning, Lt. Campbell brought Joker One home with only one KIA—a record as impressive as his account. (Mar. 17)
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Critics praised Campbell as a gifted and deft writer who retells his Iraq tour in “powerful, exacting detail” (Dallas Morning News). While Campbell avoids much analysis of the war overall, or even his platoon’s specific mission, most critics found this to be a virtue. As the New York Times noted, Campbell “never quite puts his finger on the meaning, if any, of the extraordinary violence,” but he does “[lay] it all out for anyone else who wants to have a try.” Only the Denver Post found Campbell’s unreflective style trying, citing that the author “seems awkwardly obtuse when it comes to ascertaining the needs of other people.” Most reviewers, however, admired the book’s honest day-to-day look at attempting to quell the Iraqi insurgency.
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