Thursday, 5 March 2015

Joker One by Donovan Campbell

For those who didn't know already, the war in Iraq and the War in Afghanistan are completely different beasts and in this book you get an honest taste of the urban warfare beast that is/was Iraq in 2004, Ramadi.

The book starts out, however, with Donovan Campbell back in the states. Training with his new platoon, learning his way as a new leader and mentor. It is here that I loved the book the most. I got to see the evolution of this intelligent, kind, honest officer and I am glad of that. It was an inspirational window to look into for anyone who respects and admires people with those unique leadership qualities.

Then the memoir takes you to the hot, violent streets of Ramadi in 2004 where Campbell took his baptism of fire straight on. He didn't always cope well, but he always coped as a good leader should, with resilience and love and reflection. When he broke, he broke in silence, in the presence of few.

I came out the other end of this book knowing I had been introduced to a very special individual.
An officer who accepted those in his platoon who were flawed. Timid kids, narcoleptic soldiers, misfits, he did not reject them, he instead nurtured their positives, turning them into soldiers that were as good at their job as any of their peers.
And as a leader of men, Campbell led with equal quantities of heart and mind and soul. He truly can see that it isn't the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.

I know somebody who served with Donovan Campbell in Iraq and apparently, the man you see here in Joker One, is the man you see in real life. You can trust that this deep thinking and intelligent man, the man he makes himself out to be, is reality. There is no spin involved.

While I did drop a star for reasons that aren't important enough to comment on, those 4 stars are strong, verging on 5.


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