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Joker One: A Marine Platoon's Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood | [Donovan Campbell]

Joker One: A Marine Platoon's Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood

When Donovan Campbell's platoon deployed to Ramadi in the spring of 2004, they believed they'd be spending most of their time building schools, training police, and making friends with the citizens. But shortly after arriving, when Campbell awoke to the chilling cry of "Jihad, Jihad, Jihad!" echoing from minaret to minaret across the city, he knew they had an altogether different situation on their hands.
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Publisher's Summary

When Donovan Campbell's platoon deployed to Ramadi in the spring of 2004, they believed they'd be spending most of their time building schools, training police, and making friends with the citizens. But shortly after arriving, when Campbell awoke to the chilling cry of "Jihad, Jihad, Jihad!" echoing from minaret to minaret across the city, he knew they had an altogether different situation on their hands.

For nearly the entire day, Joker-One---the 40-man infantry platoon that Campbell was charged with leading---fought house-to-house to rescue other units, sometimes trading grenades with their enemies from just a few feet away. In the days and months that followed, hundreds of hard-core insurgents launched simultaneous attacks on the Marine forces in Ramadi, their ranks swelled by thousands of local volunteers drawn from the citizens of a city whose primary export was officers in Saddam Hussein's army. By the fall of 2004, nearly half the men in Campbell's platoon had been wounded in some of the fiercest urban fighting since Vietnam; less than a month after they withdrew, the forces in Ramadi were doubled, then tripled.

Although Joker One is set in Iraq, the book's themes---brotherhood, honor, and sacrifice---are universal. Campbell shows us how his Marines' patience, discipline, and love for one another created a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts, and how the essential goodness of these men remains unchanged by all of the pain and the terror surrounding them. His sharp-eyed, evocative, and unflinching account of his deployment is just as impressive as the man himself---a man who chose to enter the military because of his patriotism, sense of privilege, and deep religious faith when most of his Princeton classmates were cashing in their ivy league educations for lucrative careers among the financial elite.

©2008 Donovan Campbell; (P)2009 Tantor

What Members Say

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4.1 (197 )
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  •  
    Doug Austin, TX 04-05-11
    Doug Austin, TX 04-05-11 Listener Since 2003
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    "This One is No Joke"

    I think it's good for regular Americans (like me) to learn about the Iraq War away from T.V or the news. This book is written by a sensible marine who can be sentimental at times, but finish the book and you'll understand. The book zooms in until you, the reader, gets ambushed by the real insurgency that occurred in the region.

    The middle to the end of the book blooms into a stunning panoramic of the war in Iraq and details entire battles as though you occupied the conscious mind of the author. It's NOT a minute-by-minute account....somehow this story manages to capture the layers of minutes as they unfold in real time. Entire battlespace is perceivable. You'll actually sense how a battle has many 'situations' developing simultaneously, and how they all change as fast as you can react to them. And real people die. You'll also see that some Americans risk their lives, not just for you and me, but for the Iraqis too.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gill Baltazar Los Lunas, NM United States 09-11-12
    Gill Baltazar Los Lunas, NM United States 09-11-12 Member Since 2005
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    "No BS"
    If you could sum up Joker One in three words, what would they be?

    This is a great book to listen to. Love the storyline. I was sad to hear about some of the men, You got to know them


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Joker One?

    all the suffering our men and women go through. in this need less war.


    Which character – as performed by David Drummond – was your favorite?

    they all were, you got to know them as your bother, son, or father


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    laugh and cryed for these men


    Any additional comments?

    loved this book

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John winder, GA, USA 02-24-10
    John winder, GA, USA 02-24-10 Member Since 2004
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    "Poor Narration"

    I have to agree with Chris from Vermont that the narrator of this book is completely mis-matched to the material. I'm not usually one to be unkind, but Mr. Drummond really throws a wet blanket on what is otherwise a great story. Drummond sounds exactly like the guy who narrates the fork lift safety videos I have to show my employees once a year and he has succeeded in making Joker One about as exciting. This is one of the few books I couldn't finish and it was due to the narration. Where is Scott Brick when you need him?

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris quechee, VT, USA 01-29-10
    Chris quechee, VT, USA 01-29-10
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    "Terrible Narration Hurts Good Story"

    While I'm not sure Joker One offers any new insight into the lives of the men in the ground in Iraq, it is a story worth hearing...well let me correct myself by saying that it would be a good story to READ but I strongly advise against LISTENING to the painful narration by David Drummond. What struck me first was the poor "casting". While I have no idea what Donovan Campbell actually sounds like, I would bet that it is nothing like this. David Drummond's voice would be far more appropriate for a book on genetics or the history of the horse drawn carriage, but he should never again be asked to provide a reading for a combat marine. But I cold have gotten past the unfortunate mismatch if his voice wasn't so incredibly irritating. I have never heard someone read with an inflection that rises at the end of almost every sentence. In fact there are numerous passages where there is a rising inflection MULTIPLE times in one sentence. I am sorry to say that I gave up listening about halfway through the first half and don't plan to return...buy with caution.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cory Amarillo, TX, United States 05-16-12
    Cory Amarillo, TX, United States 05-16-12 Member Since 2006

    I spend about 55 hours a week driving and really enjoy having a good book to pass the miles.

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    "Good book, average narration."

    If you liked Outlaw Platoon or American Sniper you will like this book. It is not as fast paced as the afforementioned titles but is still worth listening to. I have listened to as much as I can on Iraq and Afghanistan written by the people who were there because we never got the correct story from the media. I am proud to live in a country that produces people like these.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew A. Comchoc 05-04-12 Listener Since 2010
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    "A well told story"

    Overall I enjoyed this book quite a bit. Some overuse of certain terms, and some military terms misread by a narrator who presumably doesn't have a lot of first hand knowledge of them was my only real gripe. Good book, for sure.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Spring Lake, MI, USA 07-14-10
    William Spring Lake, MI, USA 07-14-10 Member Since 2007
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    "Simply the best"

    Among the very best accounts of military life and combat I have ever read. Campbell is down-to- earth and tells it like it is from a perspective that most Americans in "fly-over-country" share. Not a book for liberal ideologues occupying ivory towers and with axes to grind.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Prairie Village, KS USA 08-21-09
    Amazon Customer Prairie Village, KS USA 08-21-09 Member Since 2002

    Larry

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    "Somebody real wears those boots on the ground"

    Donovan Campbell puts us at his side during his tour of duty in Ramahdi, a hotbed of factional terrorism, murder, hatred and exploding ordinance. Hot, dusty, overextended, under provisioned with transport and communications, this young Marine lieutenant and his men slog through the daily grind of keeping the peace in a city thats circling the drain into madness. You will appreciate the courage and fortitude of these men who have been ordered to do the impossible and yet suit up on a daily basis and do just that. David Drummand does a great job of narration.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David WACO, TX, United States 03-15-14
    David WACO, TX, United States 03-15-14 Member Since 2009
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    "He shouldn't be leading men"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I wouldn't recommend the book. The protagonist struggles with leadership or what he thinks is leadership. His worries seem to be politically correct concerns that have no place in a battle. I enjoyed the description of the battle and I now better understand the logistics and strategy.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    It just needed to end


    Did Joker One inspire you to do anything?

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Dale Foster Sykesville, MD 01-06-14
    Pamela Dale Foster Sykesville, MD 01-06-14 Member Since 2010

    I listen to and have recently started to write reviews. I've found the reviews have helped me to select books.

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    "Finding the Truth of War"

    Donovan, deployed in the spring of 2004 to Ramadi, Iraq, with a platoon of 40 men, was actually excited with the concept of going to war. He had been deployed before but had never experienced vicious attacks from the Taliban. Donovan had never been responsible for the 40 Marines now under his tutelage. However, this tour of duty would make Donovan face the realities of just what war was at its worst.

    Donovan and his 40 Marines faced fire fights again and again. He and his men were at the point that they did not want to leave the safety of the command center. The command center wasn't always the safe haven that it had once been. The Taliban would would attack without discretion. Fighting terrorism was quite different from previous wars.

    The reality of having two casualties from his own platoon made Donovan stand up straighter and rethink what he would face as the leader of 40 Marines. The fighting was vicious and assaulted Donovan and his men each time they had to face their enemy. There would be times that the Taliban would be silent. However, every time Donovan had to face going out on patrol, he came to know what fear was.

    Donovan, having lost many of his original platoon, would lay awake at night rethinking last night's fire fight or what tomorrow night might bring. He started to question his own leadership skills. However, his Marines would always be supportive of their leader.

    Brotherhood, Honor and Country was a part of each and every one of Donovan's men as well as himself. However, as Donovan watched his men fight, he came to understand that protecting other Marines, at times putting their own lives in danger, was a constant. His men were always looking from side to side, in front of and behind, scanning to see when and if another "brother" needed help. Donovan and all of the other Marines who would fight, were considered as one of their own. No discrimination, a Marine was a Marine and these men fought together as one.

    Reading this memoir made me understand what being a Marine means. Their brotherhood was all encompassing. One Marine may not know another but the uniform they wore was all that one of them needed to see and he was also a member of the brotherhood. On the battlefield and off, they were as one to the other as brothers could be.

    The narrator, David Drummond, did a great job. This made listening easy and most enjoyable. The characters were well developed and distinguishable one from the other. One of Donovan's men received the Medal of Honor, posthumously. Donovan would come to what the true meaning of love was. Love, not only for those at home but how he came to love each and everyone of his Marine's. He was a good leader of men. Donovan not only lived and fought with his men, he knew his men. Both their good qualities and bad but somehow Donovan would always find a redeeming factor that would make each man shine.

    You will not be disappointed during or after listening to this memoir. Donovan wrote this book to honor each and every man under his command, who fought together in Ramadi, Iraq.



    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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