Chronicling his experiences in Iraq, Campbell movingly portrays his love for the men under his command, and theirs for each other.
His debut memoir also depicts the war’s effect on the author’s faith and hope, shaking the former and shattering the latter as horror after horror befell the Marine platoon that went by the call name Joker One. During a seven-month tour in Ramadi, capital of the Sunni-dominated Anwar province, Lt. Campbell and his company were on hand to witness the critical intensification of hostilities between Coalition forces and the Iraq insurgency in the spring and summer of 2004. The velvet-glove treatment Joker One at first extended to the locals, rather than winning them loyalty and respect, earned the Marines a reputation for being soft. While the Americans mistakenly believed they were merely caretaking the transition to Iraqi rule, the insurgents were arming the masses, threatening heads of household with retaliation against their families if they didn’t allow their homes to be used for weapons storage. On the morning of April 6, 2004, in place of the daily call to prayers, Ramadi awoke to the repeated call of “jihad” emanating from loudspeakers on mosques around the city. Campbell and his men soon found themselves in a hellish situation, forced “to make horrible choices, day in and day out, until it seemed like no matter what path we took, we lost.” Yet during their baptism by fire Campbell observed and recorded numerous acts of heroism and selflessness among his comrades in arms, a diverse group of young men whose collective strength was greater than the sum of their individual weaknesses.
An accessible view of combat on the ground and a valuable supplement to big-picture histories of the war’s first year.