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One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer [Hardcover]

by Nathaniel C. Fick
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (236 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 3, 2005 0618556133 978-0618556137 1
A former captain in the Marines’ First Recon Battalion, who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq, reveals how the Corps trains its elite and offers a point-blank account of twenty-first-century battle.

If the Marines are “the few, the proud,” Recon Marines are the fewest and the proudest. Only one Marine in a hundred qualifies for Recon, charged with working clandestinely, often behind enemy lines. Fick’s training begins with a hellish summer at Quantico, after his junior year at Dartmouth, and advances to the pinnacle—Recon—four years later, on the eve of war with Iraq. Along the way, he learns to shoot a man a mile away, stays awake for seventy-two hours straight, endures interrogation and torture at the secretive SERE course, learns to swim with Navy SEALs, masters the Eleven Principles of Leadership, and much more.

His vast skill set puts him in front of the front lines, leading twenty-two Marines into the deadliest conflict since Vietnam. He vows he will bring all his men home safely, and to do so he’ll need more than his top-flight education. He’ll need luck and an increasingly clear vision of the limitations of his superiors and the missions they assign him. Fick unveils the process that makes Marine officers such legendary leaders and shares his hard-won insights into the differences between the military ideals he learned and military practice, which can mock those ideals. One Bullet Away never shrinks from blunt truths, but it is an ultimately inspiring account of mastering the art of war.

Editorial Reviews

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."
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

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 Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition (October 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618556133
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618556137
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (236 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
334 of 340 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a Warriors secret heart... September 29, 2005

A Recon Marine always gives more than he takes. With this said I respectfully thank and honor Capt. Fick for his private and revealing book about Idealism, loss of innoccence, and the Mask of Command. Do Leaders regret, do they feel, do they disagree? Yes, the Legit ones do. However they rarely disobey. Ramparts become stepping stones and enemy ambushes proving grounds for small unit tactics and fire and manuever. One Bullet Away reveales Ficks' secret heart and the violence it bears and also the mans truth and compassion gained by combat. I Myself was a bullet away on more than one occassion and in one particular ambush, Capt. Fick layed it on the line and decisively and calmly saved my teams life. I will always admire, respect and love the Warrior who gave more than he took from 1st Recon Battallion. And all of his men are of the same mind as myself. His book is an affirmation to our platoon and its leadership. Plt Commander and Plt Sergeant be blessed. The men of 2nd Plt thank you. Read the book, it is Legit. Rudy Reyes-Recon Forever
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175 of 188 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Leadership, Duty, and Brotherhood September 27, 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"I left the Corps because I had become a reluctant warrior. Many Marines reminded me of gladiators. They had that mysterious quality that allows some men to strap on greaves and a breastplate and wade into the gore. I respected, admired and emulated them, but I could never be like them. I could kill when killing was called for, and I got hooked on the rush of combat as much as any man did. But I couldn't make the conscious choice to put myself in that position again and again throughout my professional life. Great Marine commanders, like all great warriors, are able to kill that which they love most-their men. It's a fundamental law of warfare. Twice I had cheated it. I couldn't tempt fate again." Words of wisdom from Nathaniel Fick. This is a book that gives us the realities of military and Marine life in particular, and written with a superb command of the language and the military mind.

Nathaniel Fick was a Dartmouth student who wanted to be a physician. He had difficulty with one of his science courses, and this changed the shape of his life. He realized he wanted to go on a great adventure, prove himself, and do something for his country. And that something was revealed in a lecture he went to about the Marines. He joined the Marines and went through one of the most difficult courses of his life,he thought at the time; Officers Candidate School. Not understanding that the real tests were to come. He became a Second Lieutenant and he went on to Recon school. Reconnaissance teams are the elite of the Marine Corps, if elite was a word in their military language. Recon teams go on the most dangerous missions of all- teams calling for emergency extracts and any form of mission that your mind can imagine.
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93 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raises expectations and hunger for more September 12, 2005
This book easily has historic qualities, with insights derived from from personal recollections and observations. Even morbid overtones are captured artfully. Youthful cynicism of Fick and his contemporaries speaks to the reader with extraordinary eloquence. But the most engaging thing about One Bullet Away is how the author is transfomed from an adolescence student at Dartmouth into a full-fleged warrior a few years later, able to manage the physical and psychological rigor of combat in both Afghanistan and Iraq. My permanent bond with Fick was completed on page 143, where he lays out a idea more powerful than an IED: "My time if Afghanistan hadn't been traumatic. I hadn't killed anyone, and no one had come all that close to killing me. But jingoism, however mild, rang hollow. Flag-waving, tough talk, a yellow ribbon on every bumper. I didn't see any real interest in understanding the war on the ground. No one acknowledged that the fight would be long and dirty, and that maybe the enemy had courage and ideals too."

Fick doesn't have to say more to remind us that bin Laden continues to evade us, meaning victory is illusive. So far Fick has delivered one book and a few articles in the New York Times. Surely this is just the beginning of this author's career on the path to wisdom and knowledge.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Few Good Men October 10, 2005
The book is no propaganda only facts. Fick is accurate and humble regarding his actions. The sensationalism and conjecture in the majority of the books on the market is absent from his account. Instead, One Bullet Away focuses on the experiences and challenges he faced, not what should have been done or what could have been done - Fick deals with reality.

Fick leads the reader from his commissioning as a Marine Officer to his decision to exit the Corps five years later. You get a first hand account from a Marine who served in Afghanistan and Iraq and completed the most challenging schools the Marine Corps can throw at you.

The author opens up to the reader and shares his emotions and inner thoughts giving an unvarnished look at what the Corps expects from our officers. The book was a pleasure to read and I hope when the American public thinks of the word Marine, they picture someone like Nate.

Tremendous effort. Dang!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Nate Fick's book is outstanding. His abilities as a writer only intensify the heart-pounding experiences of war and the heavy burdens of command.
Published 7 days ago by Jonathan
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
This book was great, goes along with the TV series Generation Kill which was based off of this reading. Read more
Published 17 days ago by Joshua Caleb Shumaker
4.0 out of 5 stars The making of a real man or woman.
What does it take for a seemingly ordinary person to put on a uniform, pick up a weapon and go into harm's way? Training, intelligence, an ideal, love of country. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Richard Golec
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
A well written account of the early stages of the war in Iraq, a great read for those who are interested.
Published 1 month ago by Graham Ratermann
3.0 out of 5 stars Quick Read
I flew through this book in no time. A good read about a college kid who quickly became a man after 9/11.
Published 1 month ago by Kyle
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Story told by a Great man
I listened to this everyday on my way to work as I prepared for OCS. It was an inspiration to me and my fellow candidates. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bryce
5.0 out of 5 stars Good one! (From a Marine combat vet!)
As a Vietnam vet, I found this book to be timeless. It captures the realities of the
Marine Corps in a very personal and human way. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Arson Larsen
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Book By An Outstanding Marine
One Bullet Away is by far one of the best books I've read about our Marines in Iraq. There are many outstanding officers and enlisted Marines and Lieutenant Fick and his men in... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Evolved & Proud
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and authentic
Nate Fick's book is as real as it gets. It's a great prism into the world of Marines in modern combat. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Banshee86
4.0 out of 5 stars Morphing into a Man (Marine)
This was a very interesting read. You learn through a young man's thought process of the responsibilities and burdens he shoulders right off the bat in combat. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Thomas S. Weaver
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Topic From this Discussion
Welcome to the One Bullet Away forum
From my perspective, if Fick is politicizing his experiences for a future run at politics, GOOD. I was first introduced to Nate Fick reading Evan Wright's awesome "Generation Kill". Our government could use more battle tested soldiers. Perhaps then it would have a different... Read more
Dec 1, 2005 by J. BAILEY |  See all 8 posts
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