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One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  9,461 ratings  ·  440 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 lin ...more
Paperback, 372 pages
Published September 7th 2006 by Mariner Books (first published January 1st 2005)
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Aurélie 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 thin…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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Petra X has an invite to NJ 13th July
When a man with an intellectual bent who really wants to be a soldier and get that adrenaline rush from actually fighting and isn't ashamed of it, isn't covering it up with "I want to give back to my country" (view spoiler) then you could expect a good read. And that's what you get.

Sebastian Jung's War was the best book I've ever read on understanding why boys want to go to be soldiers, through all the extreme hardships of training, and
Aug 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
"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
Dec 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone
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
Sep 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
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 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
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
Nov 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Michael Flanagan
Jun 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: iraq
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.
Apr 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
A direct and clearheaded account of one man's transformation from civilian to marine officer, layered alongside vivid descriptions of the tip of the spear's combat experience immediately post-9/11. Fick's journey is in many ways unique; he's selected for one of the rarest occupational specialities in the marines (a rare feat in and of itself) months after graduation from Darmouth, not the usual pipeline for military careers. Fick's closest friends were preparing for graduate school and consultin ...more
Mar 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, military
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
Feb 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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.
Fredrick Danysh
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: us-marines, history
This is a former Marine officer's account of the early war on terrorism through two combat tours in the Middle East. It covers the training and deployments cycles that occur in the military. It also highlights the small percentage of Marines who are more concerned with playing the political game. It does a decent job of showing the need to care for those below you and training them to be able to replace you which is an old Marines Corps standard. Semper Fedelis. ...more
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My friend Scott W. suggested I read this book, and wow, was I impressed. It is an excellent book on what it takes to be a Marine Officer. I was an Army Officer, I see a big difference. A great book on the struggle to excel and survive. If your into the military this is must read.
Jan 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone even the least bit interested in the subject, and then everyone else
Note: I've read this book a couple of weeks and my review is based on the notes I took while reading it.

I have no doubts that "One Bullet Away" by Nathaniel Fick is going to be one, if not the best book, I'm going to read this year. After I finished it, it took me along time to stop thinking about it (actually, I still haven't), and it moved me in a way I didn't expect. And that was before I watched the excellent HBO TV series "Generation Kill", which I highly recommend, btw.

As you may re
Nickson Kaigi
Jan 04, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: my-collection
This is a good book... I had already read Generation Kill: Devil Dogs, Iceman, Captain America, and the New Face of American War and this book delves deeper into the incredible effort that goes into shouldering the burden of command. "Heavy is the head that wears the crown"

"We should remember that one man is much the same as another, and that he is best who is trained in the severest school" -- Thucydides.

Recon Marines are tough SOBs
Marcus Gavin
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A full five stars. An brilliant book.
John Beck
Mar 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, non-fiction

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
Mark Gannon
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A highly enjoyable read. A five star rating easily earned. Nathaniel Flick comes across as honest and sincere and his recounting of his experiences comes across as truthful and engaging. Well worth the read.
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
Sep 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, bio, war
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
Blane S
May 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is a memoir about the author, Nathanial Fick, and his story of his time in the Marines. The beginning of the story is about the difficulty of getting through training to be a marine. He explains every part of his grueling training experience. After boot camp, he is deployed on a ship patrolling the Australian coast for a year long deployment. However, 9/11 happens during his deployment, and he is moved to go fight in Afghanistan. The rest of the book talks about the stress and hardship ...more
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i read this book and it's pseudo prequel Generation Kill as a teenage boy with over zealous, unrealistic ideas about justice, violence, and the general role of the military historically and in the modern world. It left quite an impression on me, and I was privileged enough to meet the author at a book signing in NYC, where I had the chance to ask him a single question. My question was "are the NCOs really as incompetent as you portray them in the book?" His answer was a sad eyed, sullen nod.

Dec 15, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Paul Carr
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This military memoir by Nathaniel Fick, who served with the Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq, is superb. Fick may be known as one of the main characters in the book and mini-series Generation Kill, and this book dives far deeper into his experiences. In addition to the expected stories of combat and camaraderie, Fick elucidates issues he balanced as a lieutenant, in dealing with both the enlisted men below him and the often-disconnected officers above him. He's often able to take a step back, pro ...more
Judy P. Sprout
I started this book a while ago, maybe a couple years after it came out. Abandoned it halfway through and sortof kindof meant to get back to it, maybe, when I felt like it.

Then I got recruited for a position at some rando network security company, clicked around their website, saw their CEO was some dude named Nathaniel Fick and did a serious double-take. Not that Nathaniel Fick, surely. Oh, but yes. So I started over from zero & pushed past the place where I left off, somewhere in Afghanistan.
John Glasgow
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable page-turner that is motivating and offers a nuanced perspective of life as a Marine officer during the late 90s to mid 2000s. Fick's writing style is compelling with a fast-pace stream of sentences, starting events in medias res, and frankly showing and not telling that keeps you engaged throughout. The story is of his journey from Dartmouth undergraduate to Marine officer candidate and then as an elite Recon Marine veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.
You don't need to be strongly intere
Scott K.
Feb 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jerry Smith
Nov 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war, 2009-read
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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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.

In 1998, after his junior year a

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“Do nothing but be prepared to do anything.” 14 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.” 6 likes
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