Joker One Book Review

joker oneJoker One is the story of a Marine platoon commander and his platoon’s deployment in Ramadi in 2004. It is a great story and great read. I think you should add it to your reading list.

Donovan Campbell wanted to make his resume more impressive so he enrolled in Officers Candidate School. When he finished as Lieutenant Campbell, he did a tour of duty in Iraq as an Intelligence Officer. Like most Marines he was itching for a fight and the intelligence office was too much desk work for him. As an officer, he wanted to lead a platoon of marines.

This story starts with Lt. Campbell telling us why he made the choice to seek command, the organization of the Joker Company, meeting his troops, and forming the Joker One platoon. He takes the leadership role of assessing the strengths and weaknesses of his marines and training with them for the deployment. This leads inevitably to their deployment in the Iraqi city of Ramdadi.

Lt. Campbell comes across as one of those good leaders who realizes he is not perfect and seeks out help from those around him to make him a better leader. Much is spent telling of his personal struggles with the strain of leadership, knowing that a mistake could result in the death of one of his marines.

This story tells the classic marine complaints about not having enough of the proper equipment and living in poor conditions during deployment. Also with deployment comes the mental anguish, the ever-present risk of death and fatigue of the troops.

The book does not dwell much on political comments, other than the typical Marine comments about poor decsions coming from above. Lt. Campbell takes note of the lack of help from Iraqis even when a school of Iraqi children is blown up by insurgents. He paints a picture of how hard it is to fight a war when your enemies are not readily identifiable.

I was drawn to the book because one of my brothers is currently serving in the Marines and scheduled for deployment in a few months. I hope he is serving under a leader as good as Lt. Campbell.

The book goes on sale March 10. Buy a copy.

You can also get an inside look at

Lt. Campbell is also on a book tour later this month:

In the interest of full disclosure, Random House was nice enough to send me an early copy of the book, hoping I would review it and spread the word.