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One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  7,679 ratings  ·  371 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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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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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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
Matthew Eisenberg
Apr 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer is an excellent, and very unique book about war. It is excellent because Nathaniel Fick describes his journey from Dartmouth student to Recon Marine with supreme intelligence and utter honesty. It is unique because Fick does so with an absence of drama and emotion---he dedicates little time and attention to the actual combat in which he engaged. Rather, the book focuses on the intense intellectual/academic/psychological pursuit of preparing to lead ...more
C.M. Halstead
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the different perspective this book brings to the Marine Corps type books.

It was great to get an officer's perspective, since the majority of Marines are enlisted men, it takes a certain type of human to lead this rowdy bunch of young professionals.
Nolan Collins
Mar 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
One Bullet Away is overall a pretty good book. This is a book, where I would recommend it to a friend. This is a very intriguing book. I chose this book because it is a book about a soldier named Nathaniel. And it takes us through what he did like training wise and that he was number one in his class for everything they did. This book takes you through the journey, from a solider to a officer in the army. I think what worked in this book was all the little details Nathan put it there, like when ...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
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
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: war, non-fiction, bio
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
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
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 Afghanist
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
Dec 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
May 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Galen Johnson
May 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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
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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
“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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