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We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines Who Took Fallujah Paperback – October 30, 2007

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We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines Who Took Fallujah + No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle for Fallujah + Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Military historian O'Donnell (Into the Rising Sun) embedded himself in the 1st Platoon of Lima Company, 1st Marine Regiment. His book describes its training and deployment to Iraq in 2004, where the platoon patrolled, fended off guerrilla attacks and finally "fought bravely and died in the Iraq War's fiercest battle" in Fallujah. Most of the book is a detailed, blow-by-blow description of the brutal street fighting, during which nearly the entire unit became casualties. As the author portrays them, these Marines were heroes and warriors with only macho flaws, such as heavy drinking or practical joking, while their enemies are simply terrorists. Maintaining that our troops fight because they love America and their buddies, but their opponents fight because they are drug-addled, suicidal maniacs, the author forgets what every military buff knows: one cannot be a great warrior without a worthy opponent. Like many embedded reporters, O'Donnell appears to have fallen in love with his subjects, adding to the growing genre of worshipful, jingoistic battle narratives about Iraq. Though these Marines fought with great courage and the details of their battle make gripping reading, the author's uncritical cheerleading reduces their accomplishment to fantasy heroics. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Lieutenant Jeff Sommers
We Were One captures every action, every thought, but most importantly every emotion that goes with victory, and the loss of friends in battle.”

Sergeant James Conner
We Were One describes the hardships that our band of warriors endured as a family, and the sacrifices we were willing to make for each other when put to the ultimate test.”

Corporal Bill Sojda
We Were One is a perfect, no-shit, first-hand story about a group of brave young boys, strangers to each other, molded into Marines, and the war that made us men. A unique bond made us brothers—we fought for each other to stay alive. Feel the heartache, the glory, and the agonizing pain of each Marine as we tell our story of the brutal bloody battle for Fallujah. It is war at its worst fought by young men at their finest.”

New York Post
“A real-time, eyewitness history …. The author’s most important accomplishment among many is to put a human face on the troops who are fighting against some of the fiercest enemies America has ever encountered …. Read O’Donnell’s excellent book and you will know that they are indeed, as were each preceding generation, “The Greatest.”

Marine Corps Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times, and Army Times
First-rate reading…Admirably depicts the brutal realities of street-to-street, house-to-house fighting…Captures the sensory details and emotional drama of good men killing and dying for one another and their country.”

Military Illustrated
“One of the best books to come out of the recent conflict in the Middle East is this blistering account of fighting the toughest of Iraq’s insurgents…Riveting and frightening…In many ways this has the same intensity of experience as Mark Bowden’s classic Black Hawk Down. An exhilarating and instructive read.”

Air & Space Power Journal
“A blue-collar, in-your-face, real-life depiction of marines fighting an ingenious, determined, and radical mujahideen insurgency…This book’s perspective makes it stand out among others that deal with such battles. The author’s decision to write about Fallujah through the eyes and experiences of those who fought it—and to draw on his own observations—brings credibility and a real sense of truth to a compelling story of bravery, courage, and commitment to something greater than oneself.”

Military Heritage
“O’Donnell depicts in graphic detail the sights and smells of urban combat and the bravery of young leathernecks, whom he describes, with some justice, as the ‘next greatest generation.’”

“O’Donnell takes the reader into the private world of a Marine infantry platoon…His descriptions of the Marines clearing houses, fighting the heavily doped-up insurgents, as well as the physical, mental, and emotional toll it takes on the Marines are among the most descriptive and heart-breaking accounts to come back from the Iraqi front…For those who want to begin to understand the deadly nature of fighting in an urban environment, the determination of the enemy, as well as the inherent problems in 4th Generation Warfare—as well to begin to understand the determination and dedication to their fellow Marines of those young men who are doing the fighting—then this is the book for you.”

Roanoke Times
“This is, being real, a more than harrowing tale…A graphic account…portraying in the starkest terms the infantryman’s war.”

“Superbly captures the human dimension of war that is missing in so many books of this genre…It is an extremely powerful and personal volume that will dramatically impact both those who have experienced combat and those who have not.”

“Cover[s] the war that the mainstream media neglects: the story of countless acts of courage and sacrifice among the young soldiers and Marines who tend to remain anonymous unless they make a mistake.”


Politics & Patriotism Show” blog, 6/26/12
“The combat history that I’ve always wanted. It’s hot, sweaty, stinky, and honest without pandering. This author has documented the nuts and bolts of modern war, and the men who live through it. It’s one thing to do your homework and write a well-rounded after-action account of recent events. We Were One goes one step further in that it’s the culmination of research and observation that was done by the author, as it happened, in a fast moving war zone…O’Donnell is a keen observer and a skilled chronicler…We’re going to be dissecting what went on in Iraq for a long time. We Were One provides some badly needed clarification.”

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306815737
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306815737
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Combat historian, bestselling author, and public speaker Patrick K. O'Donnell has written eight critically acclaimed books that recount the epic stories of America's wars.

Dog Company: The Boys of Pointe du Hoc The Rangers Who Accomplished D-Day's Toughest Mission and Led the Way Across Europe is his most recent work.

His bestseller, Beyond Valor, which tells the gripping tales of U.S. WWII Ranger and Airborne veterans, won the William E. Colby Award for Outstanding Military History. O'Donnell's We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder With the Marines Who Took Fallujah is required reading for Marines and is on the Commandants' Professional Reading List.

His other books include Into the Rising Sun; Operatives, Spies, and Saboteurs; The Brenner Assignment: The Untold Story of the Most Daring Spy Mission of WWII; They Dared Return; and Give Me Tomorrow: The Korean War's Greatest Untold Story - The Epic Stand Of The Marines Of George Company.

His books have been Main or Alternate selections of the Book-of-the-Month, History, and Military History Book Clubs. Reviewers from media outlets as diverse as The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Jerusalem Post, Los Angeles Times, CNN, C-SPAN, and National Public Radio (NPR) have hailed his publications.

O'Donnell has been studying World War II and modern war since childhood. He has a passion for finding ways to preserve the oral histories of America's combat veterans for generations to come. Nearly two decades ago, he founded The Drop Zone, the first online military oral history project and virtual museum. This award-winning website contains many of the thousands of interviews O'Donnell personally conducted with veterans and their adversaries, making it one of the largest private collections of historical materials from elite and special operations troops.

As an expert on WWII espionage, special operations, and counter-insurgency on the modern battlefield, the historian has helped with production and writing for numerous documentaries produced by the BBC, the History Channel, and others. He has appeared as a guest on countless television and radio shows on NPR, CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and other networks.

O'Donnell not only writes about combat--he's experienced it firsthand. During the Iraq war, he was embedded with military units as the only civilian combat historian to volunteer and spend three months in Iraq documenting the experiences of troops in battle. He fought with a Marine rifle platoon (Lima Company 3/1) during the Battle of Fallujah, surviving several ambushes, and carried a mortally wounded Marine out of a firefight with Chechen insurgents. (See WeWereOne.com and The History Channel's: Shoot Out D-Day Fallujah.)

On his second tour to Iraq, he served as a war correspondent for Men's Journal and Fox News, reporting on the conflict in Iraq from the perspective of the Marines on the ground. He has written for Military History Quarterly (MHQ) and WWII Magazine and is a contributor to The National Review, as well as a variety of nationally recognized publications.

He also provided historical consulting for DreamWorks' award-winning miniseries Band of Brothers, as well as for the billion-dollar Medal of Honor game franchise.

His skills and expertise have been tapped by private sector firms and government agencies, including DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). For the agency, O'Donnell worked on modern weapons systems for urban warfare, researched and analyzed counter-insurgency strategies and tactics, and assessed German technology from WWII, focusing on its application to the modern battlefield.

Because he believes in experiencing the places and people about which he writes, O'Donnell has traveled to nearly all of the battlefields of North America and many of the WWII battlefields in Northern Europe. In addition, each one of his books contains scores, if not hundreds, of oral history interviews, combined with years of archival research. For example, The Brenner Assignment was based on 10,000 primary source documents.

The author credits serendipity for leading him in the right direction, because the stories he tells somehow always find him.
His websites include:


Customer Reviews

A fast read for me couldn't put it down.
The feelings generated by Mr. O'Donnell's account of the fight for Fallujah were so intense at times that I had to put the book down from time to time.
K.S. Kompsi
I just finished reading your book, "We Were One" and wanted to share my thoughts with you.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 81 people found the following review helpful By BruceWayne on January 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is incredible. And no, that isn't an overstatement.

O'Donnell isn't going to win any awards for his writing talents---his allegories are like stale Stephen King at best---but the story alone sells this book and made it (for me at least) the first read in a very long time that I just simply couldn't put down.

It made me

1. Proud to be an American

2. Sorrowful for the soldiers who experienced this battle

3. Reconfirm my hatred for Islamic extremists

4. Understand the petty manipulation of our media concerning the Iraq war

and quite possibly more than anything...

5. Ashamed for not serving my country.

God Bless America----and God Bless the Marines
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Book buyer on December 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I was a member of 3/1 in the late 70's and was discharged from the Marine Corps in 1990 after recovering from injuries incurred in Beirut. I have spent most of my life reading military history and first hand accounts of combat and have experienced it myself. This book is one of the best I have ever read. All Marines, historians and those who want to know what Marines are like in combat and what combat is like in Iraq should read this book. Kudos to the author for going through what so few else would do to get t he story first hand. My only regret is that as in Vietnam these men were misused by politicians who themselves would never make the ultimate sacrifice for others.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By jed on March 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
As a mother of a Marine, who is currently deployed in Al Anbar province, I wanted to read this book to see if I could get some insight regarding what my son is going through everyday. Sadly Mr.O'Donnell did not disappoint me. I say sadly because it was very real and I could picture my son in every one of the Marines Mr. O'Donnell immortalized. He painted a very clear and honest picture of who these young men are, how they felt, and how the daily activities they faced impacted them. I must say that at times it was a little too honest for me; the language was little rough, remember I am a Marine Mom, not a Marine. After reading this book I felt as though I knew each of these young men and I said another prayer of thanksgiving for their bravery and sacrifices. Although it was a hard story to read I am glad I read it. I am very proud of these young men and even more committed to the job that needs to be finished. I am just sorry it is true.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By KD on December 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading your book, "We Were One" and wanted to share my thoughts with you. Being a female in my mid twenties who had a hard time sitting through the war scenes in "Forest Gump", I NEVER would have read a book of this nature. The only reason that I picked it up is because one of my truly dearest friends, Corporal "Jack Rabbit" Roberts is in it. Corporal Roberts once told me that he was in Fallujah. Being the naive and sometimes ignorant person that I am, I had no idea what that meant. In fact, I hadn't even followed the war because I didn't agree with it. All I knew about the war was what I heard on the news.

This past summer, Justin and I became very close friends. When he told me he was in a book, of course I felt compelled to read it. I put it off for a while but finally last week I picked up a copy. I read through it in 3 days. It brought me to tears while opening my eyes. How could I have been so ignorant about the war and what my very good friend had gone through (he never talked to me about what he had done)? Men my own age (at the time) were fighting and experiencing things that never in my wildest nightmares could I imagine. I want to thank every Marine for what he has done. You have made me proud.

I want to thank Pat O'Donnell for writing this book. Right now, having just closed the back cover, I feel like it has changed my view of the world- my world in particular. I have this sudden urge to do everything I can to support our troops and to let them know that they are appreciated and honored. I also want to thank Pat for giving me the opportunity to understand what my dear friend had to endure and still struggles with today. Marines, you truly have moved and inspired me. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Brian on January 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"We Were One" Shoulder to shoulder with the Marines who took Fallujah is an objective, real time report on Lima Co. 3/1's assault on Fallujah. The author, through great personal sacrafice and danger, takes you into a battle so ferocious with house to house fighting that has not been witnessed since Stalingrad. Patrick O'Donnell keeps with his style of telling it from the veterans point of view as he did with his other books, Beyond Valor, Into the Rising Sun and Operatives, Spies and Saboteurs. In this book, he does it in real time witnessing the battle himself, then recording it each night in the "safe houses" he and the Marines hunkered down in while AC-130U gunships circled, firing cannon and minigun to keep the Islamofascists at bay all night long. I read his other books, I've lived WWII through the eyes, hearts and minds of the veterans of the European and Pacific theaters. Now I have lived it real time from the Marines on the front line of a battle that joins the ranks of Marine Corps historical lore. This is a book for those who appreciate small unit tactics and close personal combat. These Marines did not have much armor support and had to do it the old fashioned way, even using Bangalore Torpedoes. It is a must read for all us armchair warriors.
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