From Publishers Weekly
The global war on terrorism has spawned some excellent combat narratives—mostly by journalists. Warriors, like Marine Corps officer Fick, bring a different and essential perspective to the story. A classics major at Dartmouth, Fick joined the Marines in 1998 because he "wanted to go on a great adventure... to do something so hard that no one could ever talk shit to me." Thus begins his odyssey through the grueling regimen of Marine training and wartime deployments—an odyssey that he recounts in vivid detail in this candid and fast-paced memoir. Fick was first deployed to Afghanistan, where he saw little combat, but his Operation [Iraqi] Freedom unit, the elite 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, helped spearhead the invasion of Iraq and "battled through every town on Highway 7" from Nasiriyah to al Kut. (Rolling Stone
writer Evan Wright's provocative Generation Kill
is based on his travels with Fick's unit.) Like the best combat memoirs, Fick's focuses on the men doing the fighting and avoids hyperbole and sensationalism. He does not shrink from the truth—however personal or unpleasant. "I was aware enough," he admits after a firefight, "to be concerned that I was starting to enjoy it."
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Fick signed up for the Marine Corps Officer Candidates School after receiving a B.A. from Dartmouth in 1999 because he wanted a challenge. He got one. He made it through the school and eventually into the First Recon Battalion (the elite of the elite), and he served in Afghanistan and Iraq before leaving the corps as a captain. The classics major proceeds in classic form, covering his training succinctly but thoroughly and his field experience in well-narrated detail, and concluding with a short epilogue. One of the corps' attractions for him was the chance for leadership in fighting. He quickly learned that the trust between platoon and leader can make the difference between life and death for both, and he builds his combat descriptions around that principle. One Bullet Away
can be recommended to anyone wanting a frontline description of this country's recent combat theaters and to anyone seeking a personal account of the contemporary Marine Corps. Marines are people, and Captain Fick puts proof of it on paper. Frieda MurrayCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved