ONE BULLET AWAY is the non-fiction account of a Dartmouth classics-grad who goes through OCS and into infantry as an officer. of the books coming out of the Iraq War, this might be a trifle weaker than average, although that is in comparison to all books with at least a 1000 ratings rather than Iraq/Afghanistan literature in its totality (which of course includes many b-list titles). call it "last of the better ones," 3/5. and, reviewer's note, I'm putting in the 3 only to deliberately push attention to JOKER ONE or THE FOREVER WAR. (or Robert D. Kaplan)
there's strength and there's weakness in this account. this book was published a little earlier than some of the later books, so although we don't want to put too much weight on this issue, perhaps we can at least say the 3/5 is certainly not going to go lower. Fick's work presents a mix of qualities perhaps because some of the time he seems to be delivering an extremely polished and "rationalistic" explanation of decisions that the reader might find actually pretty chaotic. as Fick himself says, "only the insane believe they are sane; the sane are tormented by the idea of their insanity," so too there are moments when Fick seems to think there is only one rational response whereas the officer in JOKER ONE came off a bit more multi-faceted. actually I'm not sure I would have wanted to serve under Fick, had I been drafted into the Marines.
the work also was a bit slower to get started, dwelling on OCS and some of the specialty schools; these topics have already been covered in military writing, and almost seemed a deliberate attempt to capture the movie Full Metal jacket's duality. although the afghan and iraq scenes were good, they broke off without any material change in the circumstances. (Fick is out of the Marines before the insurgency begins). to that degree, this is almost a period piece.