Joker One, a novel by Donovan CampbellJoker One: A Marine Platoon's Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood

Campbell decided as a junior at Princeton that attending Marine Corps Officer Candidate School would look good on his résumé. Three years later, in the spring of 2004, he was in Iraq commanding a platoon known by its radio call sign, Joker One. Campbell tells its story, and his, in an outstanding narrative of the Iraq War. Joker One counted around 40 dudes: country boys and smalltown jocks; a few Hispanics and a single black. Some were college men with futures; some had pasts they preferred to forget. The battalion was assigned to one of Iraq's worst hot spots: the city of Ramadi, where faceless enemies found shelter among 350,000 Iraqi civilians. Joker One fought from street to street, house to house and ambush to ambush for seven straight months. By the end of the tour, even the Gunny's hands had started ceaselessly shaking, Campbell writes. Faced with urgent life-and-death decisions, Campbell had learned that there are no great options... you live with the results and shut up about the whole thing. For all his constant self-questioning, Lt. Campbell brought Joker One home with only one KIA—a record as impressive as his account.

“Donovan Campbell was a platoon commander in the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment in Anbar in 2004–the unit that had my flank. In Joker One, he tells the story of that hard fight from the ground level better than I thought possible. This is how it was in Ramadi in 2004, before the Surge, before the Awakening, when Iraq fell apart. And this is what it is like to lead men in battle. Read this book if you are going to war, or if you have gone to war, or if you want to know what war is.”
–Lieutenant Colonel John A. Nagl (Ret.)

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Joker One, a novel by Donovan Campbell