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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

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

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Performance

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  • Overall
  • Doug
  • Austin, TX
  • 04-05-11

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

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

  • Overall
  • John
  • winder, GA, USA
  • 02-24-10

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?

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Chris
  • quechee, VT, USA
  • 01-29-10

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

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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

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  • Story

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

  • Overall

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

  • Overall

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

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  • Story

Such brave soldiers, such pointless sacrifice

The story of Joker One is one that every gung-ho flag waver should read. The suffering and death of such good, well intentioned men for a war that was not winnable is a national disgrace. The armchair patriots that blame the media or liberals instead of the Bush government for this war should, if they are still capable of rational thinking, hang their heads in shame. These brave soldiers were asked to implement policies that were criminally naive and then not even given the proper equipment to do the job. Just hearing how the constantly malfunctioning radios made it impossible to communicate effectively, how the Marines did not rate the same Humvee’s as the army because of budget constraints, are just two of the many shocks I experienced in listening to this story. I did become frustrated with Lt. Campbell many times when he did not forcefully stand up for his men. He went into this conflict with the proverbial rose colored glasses firmly covering his eyes. Reality rudely tore them off and stomped them to pieces. Some of Lt. Campbell’s conclusions at the end of this book seem delusional to me. Especially his remarks on the meaning and nature of love. But listen for yourself. We owe these brave men so much, the least we can do is buy a book to help support a few of them. While the Lieutenant and his men love their country, as most Americans do, he makes it clear that they fought for each other. There is very little flag waving and no chest thumping in this one. This one hurt to read. God bless them all.

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POOR AUDIO LEVELS

The audio changed from good to extremely poor/low. At times, it was impossible to listen to while driving.