Top positive review
32 people found this helpful
definately worth reading
on 6 July 2007
Nate Fick decided to join the USMC from an ivy league college in New England, not traditionally the Corps biggest recruiting area. Moreover, he did so after attending a lecture by a journalist who praised the unit so we are not dealing with ignoramous, but instead an intelligent man. His timing meant he served in Afghanistan in Nov 2001 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
I bought this book as I had read "Generation Kill" by Evan Wright and enjoyed it immensly. Fick was the platoon commander that journalist Wright was embedded with during the invasion of Iraq and Wright spoke well of him. There are a myriad of combat memoirs available now and I am somewhat cynical of many of them. However, based on the high praise of a neutral, I gave this book a go and was glad of it.
He paints a vivid picture of trying to lead men against an uncertain enemy, living with the reality that they sometimes shoot the wrong people and trying to do the best in tough circumstances. What stood out most for me was his opinions of his superiors, which are generally not favourable (and shared by Wright incidently). He is outraged at the indifference of his superiors to the death of innocents and their apparant delight of the war for the promotion opportunities it brings.
He is also very open and frank about the fear he felt in combat and thankfully steers away from any chest beating or self agrandisment, which makes the book a better read.
His opinions on the war would have carried some weight but, perhaps wisely, he gives none, preferring to stick to the story rather than the politics. The book and his attitudes to the situation are summed up in an incident he reacalls at the end while he is applying for places on post grad courses shortly before discharge. The admissions secretary of a major institution asks him to explain some comments attributed to him in Wright's book where he displays an apparent bloodlust. He sees no reason to explain himself to one who has not seen combat, merely saying he does not enjoy killing. For me this passage neatly described the book quite well. Clearly a devoted leader trying to do his best by his men who is at ease with the knowledge he did the best he could.
Given he now has a Harvard MA to go with his fine combat record, it would not surprise me if we see him scouted by politicians in future. While I suspect Fick would view this with some distaste, at least he has enough expereince of war not to delight in it.
In some ways the same story as Generation Kill but written without as much swearing or Jennifer Lopez references but a fine memoir of combat leadership nonetheless.