One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer
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One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  4,008 ratings  ·  275 reviews
If the Marines are "the few, the proud," Recon Marines are the fewest and the proudest. Nathaniel Fick's career begins with a hellish summer at Quantico, after his junior year at Dartmouth. He leads a platoon in Afghanistan just after 9/11 and advances to the pinnacle--Recon-- two years later, on the eve of war with Iraq. His vast skill set puts him in front of the front l...more
ebook, 384 pages
Published September 7th 2006 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2005)
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"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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
I usually read books about the world war mainly because I think if anyone wants to learn about modern warfare second world war should be their choice. This one kind of proved my point. However it was a good experience to read a book about America's two most recent military encounters. Iraq and Afghanistan wars were wars of attrition and this is by nature boring, but here in this book I wasn't bored and I'll have to thank the writer for this. This book had a very good pace and very well written t...more
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.
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
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

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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
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.
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
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.

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
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.
Jason M Waltz
A good and thorough follow-up to Evan Wright's book covering much of the same ground though from a single personal POV. It is interesting to read an embedded reporter's POV of a Marine unit and then the POV of the classically-minded Marine officer leader of that unit.

Fick delivers a good recounting of his experiences and motivations from joining to leaving the Corps. I think he's best at examining himself, simply okay at examining others and situations. The cover text told me the book 'never shr...more
I thought this book was great before I joined the Marines. Now, I can't believe some of the things said in the book.
Numma Maroney
The book One Bullet Away by Nathaniel Fick was a very interesting book. I enjoy personal stories from those in the military. This story and autobiography was a very good read. I am very interested in the training that he received when in the training for Infantry Officer in Officer Candidate School. His devotion to his team and his struggle to do his best throughout all of his training and deployment after his training proved his dedication to his military life and himself as a person. After his...more
Hannah M.
Nathaniel Fick decided while he was in college that he was going to join the Marines. He served as an Infantry Officer and later as a Recon Marine. During that time, he saw a good chunk of what the world had to offer, both good and bad. One Bullet Away is Fick’s account of the things he faced during those years.

I first became aware of Nathaniel Fick’s story when I read Generation Kill by Evan Wright a few years back. While I enjoyed Wright’s book, I have a different appreciation for One Bullet A...more
Anna Rebecca
This book has garnered some scathing reviews due to its unflinching look at how the military really works. Some reviewers have had some rather unflattering things to say about Mr. Fick. To those reviewers I would say: Don’t read this review. I found this book to be very interesting and I appreciated the author’s decision to tell it the way it is and not the way people think it should be.

I found One Bullet Away to be written in such a way that it didn’t come across as just a recounting of a time...more
Timothy Bazzett
One Bullet Away is perhaps the most detailed and complete record of a combat tour in Iraq that I have yet read. Fick must have kept daily notes or a diary. In fact the accumulation of day to day details becomes a bit repetitious and almost tedious at times. Lt Fick's dedication to his trade and affection and concern for his men become obvious in the course of his narrative, and you cannot help but admire him for any number of reasons. He is articulate and thoughtful throughout the book, a reflec...more
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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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