So, in comments that I've made and replies to emails about Colby Buzzel's book, My War - Killing Time In Iraq, I have mentioned One Bullet Away as my favorite book about the military.
Buzzell's book is great, as I wrote, and it will always be on my shelves of favorites. But Fick's hit home with me more than any other book that I've read about the military. Fick's book is really about the distance between the ideals of a martial life and the reality of a military career.
Ever since reading General Kill by Evan Wright, I wanted to know more about this Marine Officer who truly put his men first. Most officers talk about it, few live it.
Nathaniel Fick graduates from Dartmouth and goes through Marine OCS to become an Infantry Officer. While his closest friends get high paying jobs in Manhattan, the only one who seems to understand his decision is his father, an Army Viet Nam vet who tells Fick upon his last night at home:
"The Marines will teach you everything that I loved you too much to teach you."
And so Fick's adventure begins.
Nathaniel Fick trains for war through Marine OCS, the Basic School and the School of the Infantry. The title is reference to the fact that the platoon sergeant is one bullet away from becoming the platoon commander, and, therefore, the Marines need to train for that eventuality.
I won't give away too much. Fick is comtemplative and compassionate and badass and tough. He writes of the good Marines and bad. The Officers worthy of the title and the ones who disgrace the uniform. Fick's first assignments (and his awesome commander) reinforce the Marines' code within him. Then, after a short tour in Afghanistan, he gets a shot at a dream job with Force Recon. Unfortunately, that is where his world and beliefs are challenged, in combat in Iraq...Generation Kill is about that period in Fick's career...when the stark realization hits Lieutenant Fick that, to be a great Officer, you must be able to order the death of everything that you love.
Amidst the swirling chaos of war, he understands that the Marines are soldiers of Athens, not Sparta.
So, I know this isn't the kind of review you were expecting. I'll just give it the highest praise that I can. Maybe, to understand the difficulties of a military life....maybe, to understand his old man better...maybe to understand that I love him too much to teach him certain things...
Someday, when he's ready, my son will read One Bullet Away.