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One Bullet Away: The Making Of A Marine Officer

4.13 of 5 stars 4.13  ·  rating details  ·  5,423 ratings  ·  308 reviews
Posted to a Marine Regiment in the wake of 9/11, this is an articulate and deeply thoughtful account of what it meant for Nathaniel Fick to fight in the front line, risking not just death or injury, but also psychological harm.
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Published January 1st 2007 by Phoenix (first published January 1st 2005)
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Au Not the same thing! Fick's book starts way before the events of Operation Iraqi Freedom, when he first enlisted and he describes his training and…moreNot the same thing! Fick's book starts way before the events of Operation Iraqi Freedom, when he first enlisted and he describes his training and things like that (there are some hilarious moments early in the book actually). Then there's the part on OIF which gives a different perspective from Evan Wright's and the book goes a little beyond that, when 1st Recon got back home. I thought both books were complementary and One Bullet Away is definitely worth reading if you liked Generation Kill, I think. Also, Nate Fick seems to be a pretty admirable man and his book is further proof of that. That's just my opinion, though. (less)
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Community Reviews

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Matt
"Soldiering has one great trap...To be a good soldier you must love the army. But to be a good officer you must be willing to order the death of the thing you love. This is...a very hard thing to do. No other profession requires it. That is one reason why there are so few good officers. Although there are many good men."
-- Michael Schaara, The Killer Angels

My friend overnighted this book to me when I told him I was joining the National Guard. He told me to read it before making a decision. He h
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James
As a retired Marine officer myself, I believe this may be the best job I've seen yet of getting inside the mind of a Marine leader. Nathaniel Fick is smart, caring, conscientious, brave, and introspective. Upon leaving the Corps he went to grad school with the goal of getting into politics, and I hope to hear his name a lot in the years to come - he has much more to give our country.
Incidentally, in another book titled Generation Kill, you can get the perspective of a reporter attached to Lt. Fi
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Kathleen
Nate is one of my favorite characters in Generation Kill, so when I realized that he had written a book of his very own that treated on some of the same events, I snapped it up immediately. I like Nate because he is an officer and a gentleman, a Dartmouth classics major who joined the Marine Corps in a fit of idealism, and one of only two competent officers portrayed in Generation Kill. Why I love Nate can be best understood first hand.

The rules of engagement harked back to my college classes on
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Jeff
I've read this book twice now and I have enjoyed it both times. The author is very good at his narration, and is neither ultra gung-ho nor cynically going through the motions. Mr. Fick is a Marine; a thoughtful Marine and one whose sense of duty is deeply held and not the product of jingoism or testosterone laden "hoo-rah" culture.

In short, I enjoyed the heck out of this book and would heartily recommend it. There are plenty of books that delineate and define how the strategic battles of the Afg
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Mike
One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer is a narrative on the military and war from an Ivy League liberal arts major. With Lt Nathaniel Fick’s background in the classics, I was hoping for a mix of real experience and historical interpretation of his experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. He focuses more on the experience and not on the wider view. Still, it was a well-written account of joining the military and going to war from a segment of society that is much more focused on getting ric ...more
Nicola
Nate Fick seems like a classy guy and this is a classy, classy book. After graduating with a degree in Classics from Dartmouth, Fick joined the US Marine Corps as an officer candidate. While his friends when to med school, law school or became “consultants” (as Fick points out, what exactly can a 22-year-old consult on?), he became a peacetime officer who was abruptly thrust into wartime after September 11.

After serving in Afghanistan, Fick joined the infamously-tough First Reconnaissance Battal
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Terri
This was a terrific book. As good as Generation Kill for me (Generation Kill having profiled Lt N. Fick as one of the Platoon that Evan Wright embedded with). I would highly recommend that if the reader of this review has not read Generation Kill, then read it before or after reading One Bullet Away. The two different perspectives were fascinating.
What Generation Kill never touched on however, was how Lt Nathaniel Fick evolved. The early days of his career. His training, his deployment to Afghan
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Grace
I loved the account of Nathaniel Fick in "Generation Kill", so was thrilled to see this autobiography. He comes across as a thoughtful, moral person in GK and that's backed up by what he's written here; it starts before Fick has even thought of joining the armed forces, and blends pretty seamlessly with the GK account.

It's not hard to see why Evan Wright wrote of the affection and trust soldiers had for Fick. Character shines through on the page, and his writing feels honest and analytical in al
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Susie
I didn't think I liked this book so much at first, but when I reached the last chapter I started having an ache in my stomach. By the last pages it had reached the level of full on grieving. I don't know why, I guess it really got to me; the people, their choices and the honesty of it all. The guy is very reflective, and though I feel I would have liked to know even more about some parts, I'm still impressed with how much he remembered. All things considered.

I'm gonna go reread it now.
Michael Flanagan
An interesting book that for some reason did not quite gel with me. After watching the T.V series Generation kill this book offered the story from a marines point of view. While the book was an engaging read for me it lacked spark that makes a good book a great one.
Eric
My discovery of One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer was a bit of an interesting genesis. When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, a number of journalists embedded with military units to report on the war. Rolling Stone's Evan Wright joined the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion of US Marine Corps for the invasion, which provided material for articles in the magazine, a book called Generation Kill, and eventually an HBO mini-series by the same name. I enjoyed the series, which led me to ...more
Owen
Good. Standard Lieutenant reading. Some real lessons to be taken from here, like how and when people will pee in a wetsuit. If you can't find a copy, go to Quantico. Every TBS barracks room will have at least two. I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone interested in knowing a little about the Marine Corps, training, modern warfare or even just a look at humanity and Rules of Engagement. Nathaniel Fick does a wonderful job detailing his experience, and manages to not step on Evan Wright’s work, ...more
John Beck
http://www.andalittlewine.blogspot.com/2012/08/book-review-one-bullet-away-by.ht...

In his memoir One Bullet Away, Nate Fick shares his story of joining the Marine Corps as an officer, and deploying just before the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Fick's story, told in ways that are both too glib and too frank, confuses the hell out of me.

I understand the call to serve. I understand the frustration that clearly mounts as he is thrust into war zones, in Afghanistan and again in Iraq, that his trai
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Christy
Nathaniel Fick received a degree in classics from Dartmouth before joining the Marines, and that blend of scholar and soldier proves to be a good mix in writing this book. Though Fick goes into detail about his training and war experience, I rarely felt lost, as can happen with me when military slang and terminology is tossed around. Occasionally I forgot the meaning of an acronym while reading and wished for a glossary, but it didn’t impede my comprehension overall.

I liked reading about the Ira
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Scott K.
Nathaniel Fick entered the Marines by way of Dartmouth College, not the standard route by any means. In “One Bullet Away” he has written a terrific book that should be required reading for all. It gave me a whole new perspective on the war in Iraq. The bravery with which our men serve is incredible. The content is gripping, and Fick’s writing style just adds to it. He paints a vivid picture of life on the front lines during the initial surge into Iraq after 9/11. Fick is obviously a very intelli ...more
Caitlin
I couldn't put this book down, but I didn't want it to end. Captain Fick gives equal attention to the tactical and logistical challenges of war, and the moral and ethical ones. A classics major with all the historical and philosophical lessons and ideas of a first-rate liberal arts education in his thinking, he is also a highly trained warrior. He shows a belief in and dedication to the highest ideals of the Marine Corps, with a practical grasp of all the ways in which the reality can and someti ...more
Jerry Smith
Gripping account of a marine officer's journey from training through to fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq to his eventual departure from the corps. Very matter of fact in its delivery, avoiding hyperbole and jingoism and is an essentially personal examination of conflict and the Marines Corps. Touches on the history and what it meant to him to be an officer commanding a platoon in battle.

Stark imagery gives a great feel for what Fick went through, even though I wouldn't have nearly enough hubris
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Gordon
I met Nate Fick in 2009 well after he left the service and was impressed by his mind. Now having read his book I understand him better. The value of Nate's book is in the clarity of his story about life as a young Marine officer. It is an enjoyable read, as well as honest and transparent. Nate has the great fortune to be part of Marine units who spearhead our actions in Afghanistan, then Iraq, which he describes with detail. As in any military experience things don't always turn out the way one ...more
Ana
I had great hopes for this book after hearing an interview with the author on NPR. The book is pretty long and after having it for 6 weeks from the library, I couldn't bring myself to finish it. The book does a good job in describing the training of Marines and officers, and a partially good job in describing what they go through in battle, but otherwise it's slow and somewhat boring. It's unsettling to find out just how dumb a lot of the Marine commanders are.

I would not recommend this book alt
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Galen Johnson
This book is a memoir; the author became a marine officer after graduating from Dartmouth in the late 90s and though he began serving in peacetime, he managed to be among the first marines into both Afghanistan and Iraq. The details about training are interesting, but the dramatic and honest look at the drive towards Baghdad at the beginning of the conflict is riveting--the details and the action will keep you reading late into the night. Highly recommended for both the good writing and the impo ...more
Lynette Macleod
One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer

I had a real experience reading this book. The context is the Marines, but the theme is brotherhood and that is something that has always gone right to my heart.

The refreshing thing about Fick's book is how honest it is. He says he "was learning that choices in war are rarely between good and bad, but rather between bad and worse.”

While a student at Dartmouth, he went to see a speaker who wound up talking to the group about the school's resistance t
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Emma
I said that this was okay only because I might not be interested in it, but I know the perfect audience that would be: young adult males who are interested in joining some sort of army or military and who do not often read. Fick's voice is hard, truthful, and to the point. Very masculine. I don't think I could get into it because my brain does not function on the combat level but he is very informative and honest. Highly recommend for the specified audience.
Jon
This book is a compelling read from the inside of the Marine Corps when soldiers went off to Afghanistan and Iraq. The author, Capt. Nathaniel Fick, commanded a platoon that made the first assault from Kuwait to Baghdad, and he gives a gritty and realistic account of what that was like. Rather than painting the war as a political war or the characters as either heroes or villains, he writes a profoundly empathetic book that gives a glimpse at what war is like. When we send troops off to fight in ...more
Robert Reed
Capt. Fisk makes the whole experience of learning to lead a Marine platoon and then leading this platoon in combat accessible to everyday readers. If you have a military background you will certainly be "in" on a few more nuances but overall, you will be drawn into the world of men in combat.

In addition to the story itself and the "characters" who you will love (or sometimes loathe) the book is a lesson in being a leader. Capt. Fisk describes the difficult process of receiving orders that he di
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Sam
An entertaining read, but written by someone with an obviously over-inflated opinion of himself. As a Marine Infantry Officer myself, I can assure you his accomplishments, particularly while in training at TBS and IOC, are not as glorious as he makes them out to be. It's an easy and entertaining read, but best read with the understanding that Fick's picture of himself is embellished by his own delusions of grandeur.
Charles
Really good glimpse into the viewpoint of a USMC officer during the Iraqi War. If you are/were sick of all the pundit opinions and viewpoints on the war, then this will be refreshing. It is great to see how the unit described by the author attempted to do good by the Iraqi people despite the orders they were given.

THe book is divided into 3 parts that deal with basic training, deployment, and war
Brooke
It’s important to understand that Nate Fick wrote a WAR memoir. He recounts his time in the Marines. There’s no sappy bullshit about his girlfriend or overtly candid moments where he comes across as cowardly and boyish. It’s a man’s book, is what it is. And it’s incredibly well done. And I don’t think I have ever respected someone so much.

Andrew Tollemache
One of the 6 books on the AMZN Kindle Unlimited program that I wanted to read so I am sprinting thru all 6 during the trial period.....#freebooks
An extremely good read that delivers on 2 fronts:(1) It does a great job going thru some of the leadership and process methodologies the USMC has developed over the years to help get thru a number of fluid and dangerous combat environments. Nothing in my life is in that league of course, but the lessons to be learned are pretty deep. (2) Fick covers so
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Dave Hoover
Overall a good book. More of a 3.75 stars than a 4. Excellent re-cpunting of Iraq and the march up. In fact, everything that took place on deployment was excellent. My issue was with the beginning of the book when he talks about going through OCS and TBS - particularly the latter. I remember TBS quite well (went through in '03) and I don't remember it being the soul-crushingly difficult endeavor that he describes. Not even close. There were certainly some challenging days but overall it was a le ...more
Phillip
Sep 23, 2007 Phillip rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Great book. (Nate is a friend). Best of the books to come out of Iraq war so far. Not a shoot 'em up (although it has some) but a thoughtful book about the responsibilities angst and anguish of leading men into battle with innocent and not so innocent civilians everywhere.
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Nathaniel Fick was born in Baltimore, Maryland in 1977. He graduated with high honors from Dartmouth College in 1999, earning degrees in Classics and Government. While at Dartmouth, Fick captained the cycling team to a US National Championship, and wrote a senior thesis on Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War and its implications for American foreign policy.

He was commissioned a second lie
...more
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“Do nothing but be prepared to do anything.” 11 likes
“Strong combat leadership is never by committee. Platoon commanders must command, and command in battle isn't based on consensus. It's based on consent. Any leader wields only as much authority and influence as is conferred by the consent of those he leads. The Marines allowed me to be their commander, and they could revoke their permission at any time.” 3 likes
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