We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines Who Took Fallujah

We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines Who Took Fallujah

4.6 21
by Patrick K. O'Donnell
     
 

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Five months after being deployed to Iraq, Lima Company’s 1st Platoon, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, found itself in Fallujah, embroiled in some of the most intense house-to-house, hand-to-hand urban combat since World War II. In the city’s bloody streets, they came face-to-face with the enemy-radical insurgents high on adrenaline, fighting to a

Overview

Five months after being deployed to Iraq, Lima Company’s 1st Platoon, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, found itself in Fallujah, embroiled in some of the most intense house-to-house, hand-to-hand urban combat since World War II. In the city’s bloody streets, they came face-to-face with the enemy-radical insurgents high on adrenaline, fighting to a martyr’s death, and suicide bombers approaching from every corner. Award-winning author and historian Patrick O’Donnell stood shoulder to shoulder with this modern band of brothers as they marched and fought through the streets of Fallujah, and he stayed with them as the casualties mounted.

Editorial Reviews

Military Illustrated
An exhilarating and instructive read.
Marine Corps Gazette
Destined to be a classic of urban close combat and honors the memory of all who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Midwest Book Review
Capture[s] vivid encounters between soldiers and civilians and re-create[s] loss and combat conditions.

Publishers Weekly
Military historian O'Donnell (Into the Rising Sun) embedded himself in the 1st Platoon of Lima Company, 1st Marine Regiment. His book describes its training and deployment to Iraq in 2004, where the platoon patrolled, fended off guerrilla attacks and finally "fought bravely and died in the Iraq War's fiercest battle" in Fallujah. Most of the book is a detailed, blow-by-blow description of the brutal street fighting, during which nearly the entire unit became casualties. As the author portrays them, these Marines were heroes and warriors with only macho flaws, such as heavy drinking or practical joking, while their enemies are simply terrorists. Maintaining that our troops fight because they love America and their buddies, but their opponents fight because they are drug-addled, suicidal maniacs, the author forgets what every military buff knows: one cannot be a great warrior without a worthy opponent. Like many embedded reporters, O'Donnell appears to have fallen in love with his subjects, adding to the growing genre of worshipful, jingoistic battle narratives about Iraq. Though these Marines fought with great courage and the details of their battle make gripping reading, the author's uncritical cheerleading reduces their accomplishment to fantasy heroics. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - Raymond Puffer
Military writing has changed much over the years. In the WW II and Cold War eras, the tone was stridently good guys vs. the bad guys, and the real-life John Waynes usually triumphed in the end. Vietnam brought a complete reversal, where the antihero warrior suffered great angst and the enemy, likely as not, was his own high command. With Iraq and the emergence of a clear-cut villain, however, the pendulum has swung about halfway back. Today, warriors are depicted as grittily real, the enemy both evil and horribly dangerous, and the orders that filter down to the soldiers seem contradictory and out of touch with their reality. We Were One, in short, introduces the reader to the real world of today's combat. Patrick O'Donnell is a military writer who embedded himself with the Marines of the 1st Platoon, Lima Company, while they fought a bitter days-long battle to clear the city of Fallujah of a well-armed enemy. Called "insurgents" by the media and "terrorists" by the forces on the ground, the Marines found that the men shooting at them were a mixed lot of hardcore Al Queda, local Sunnis, mercenary Syrians and even Chechens. The house-by-house city fighting was as intense, and the violence as random, as any that took place at Stalingrad or in Berlin during WW II. O'Donnell was accepted into the brotherhood of warriors, and his fierce joy at a successful action and deep grief at the Marine casualties come through to the reader in vivid form. This is one of the finest accounts of infantry combat action that has been published in a very long time. A book like this is especially useful at a time when many returning troops are struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD); thereader learns where it comes from. The book is also useful now that our ex-military people find themselves liable to be tried in civilian courts for "war crimes" they might have committed while in combat. Face-to-face combat does not excuse atrocities, of course, but one wonders if civilian jurors can ever fully understand what a defendant has gone through. Neither war crimes nor dubious combat actions were recorded in this book, and any conclusions readers might draw from this are strictly their own. What does come across, however, is the extraordinary stresses experienced by each individual soldier each time he eases into a room where a suicidal fanatic might be waiting, whenever a sniper shot brushes his sleeve, or when he discovers a fiendishly clever booby-trap silently waiting for him. Combat veterans have always known that civilian family and friends can never understand nor appreciate the experiences they have gone through. This unforgettable book, however, goes a long way toward helping. Reviewer: Raymond Puffer, Ph.D.
Kirkus Reviews
Recollections of action by U.S. Marines who fought in the Iraq War's fiercest battle. Military writer O'Donnell joined up partway through the battle for Fallujah with a unit from the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, and accompanied them through several days until the notorious Iraqi city, with its denizens of insurgent fighters, was pulverized. The bulk of the book, the author explains, is based on "corroborated oral history interviews which have been vetted." They were gleaned principally from surviving members of the 1st Platoon, Lima Company, nominated by O'Donnell as the troops having "seen the worst" of what was obviously a horrendous experience for anyone involved-some 14 of its original 45 members were left standing at the close of hostilities. Given those definitive circumstances, it is clear that he writes for no purpose other than to reflect the fullest possible credit on the individuals he happened to be embedded with. They are portrayed as uniformly dedicated and patriotic, bonded by a hatred of the enemy mujahadin and the overriding desire to protect one another and do the Corps proud. Some "love combat," while others have been able to overcome fear through indoctrination. The descriptions of urban warfare are graphic and grisly; most encounters result in at least one disfigured corpse (sometimes that of a Marine). A redundant line of justification reminds the reader that insurgents fight dirty, don't follow any of the rules of war and use civilians as shields, and that Marines in Iraq are often handicapped by engagement rules stemming from biased or inaccurate media coverage, etc. Clearly reflects valor and courage, but this is hardly "history" as most understand it.
From the Publisher
Lieutenant Jeff Sommers
We Were One captures every action, every thought, but most importantly every emotion that goes with victory, and the loss of friends in battle.”

Sergeant James Conner
We Were One describes the hardships that our band of warriors endured as a family, and the sacrifices we were willing to make for each other when put to the ultimate test.”

Corporal Bill Sojda
We Were One is a perfect, no-shit, first-hand story about a group of brave young boys, strangers to each other, molded into Marines, and the war that made us men. A unique bond made us brothers—we fought for each other to stay alive. Feel the heartache, the glory, and the agonizing pain of each Marine as we tell our story of the brutal bloody battle for Fallujah. It is war at its worst fought by young men at their finest.”

New York Post
“A real-time, eyewitness history …. The author’s most important accomplishment among many is to put a human face on the troops who are fighting against some of the fiercest enemies America has ever encountered …. Read O’Donnell’s excellent book and you will know that they are indeed, as were each preceding generation, “The Greatest.”

Marine Corps Times, Air Force Times, Navy Times, and Army Times
First-rate reading…Admirably depicts the brutal realities of street-to-street, house-to-house fighting…Captures the sensory details and emotional drama of good men killing and dying for one another and their country.”

Military Illustrated
“One of the best books to come out of the recent conflict in the Middle East is this blistering account of fighting the toughest of Iraq’s insurgents…Riveting and frightening…In many ways this has the same intensity of experience as Mark Bowden’s classic Black Hawk Down. An exhilarating and instructive read.”

Air & Space Power Journal
“A blue-collar, in-your-face, real-life depiction of marines fighting an ingenious, determined, and radical mujahideen insurgency…This book’s perspective makes it stand out among others that deal with such battles. The author’s decision to write about Fallujah through the eyes and experiences of those who fought it—and to draw on his own observations—brings credibility and a real sense of truth to a compelling story of bravery, courage, and commitment to something greater than oneself.”

Military Heritage
“O’Donnell depicts in graphic detail the sights and smells of urban combat and the bravery of young leathernecks, whom he describes, with some justice, as the ‘next greatest generation.’”

Leatherneck
“O’Donnell takes the reader into the private world of a Marine infantry platoon…His descriptions of the Marines clearing houses, fighting the heavily doped-up insurgents, as well as the physical, mental, and emotional toll it takes on the Marines are among the most descriptive and heart-breaking accounts to come back from the Iraqi front…For those who want to begin to understand the deadly nature of fighting in an urban environment, the determination of the enemy, as well as the inherent problems in 4th Generation Warfare—as well to begin to understand the determination and dedication to their fellow Marines of those young men who are doing the fighting—then this is the book for you.”

Roanoke Times
“This is, being real, a more than harrowing tale…A graphic account…portraying in the starkest terms the infantryman’s war.”

H-Net.org
“Superbly captures the human dimension of war that is missing in so many books of this genre…It is an extremely powerful and personal volume that will dramatically impact both those who have experienced combat and those who have not.”

Military.com
“Cover[s] the war that the mainstream media neglects: the story of countless acts of courage and sacrifice among the young soldiers and Marines who tend to remain anonymous unless they make a mistake.”

Politics & Patriotism Show” blog, 6/26/12
“The combat history that I’ve always wanted. It’s hot, sweaty, stinky, and honest without pandering. This author has documented the nuts and bolts of modern war, and the men who live through it. It’s one thing to do your homework and write a well-rounded after-action account of recent events. We Were One goes one step further in that it’s the culmination of research and observation that was done by the author, as it happened, in a fast moving war zone…O’Donnell is a keen observer and a skilled chronicler…We’re going to be dissecting what went on in Iraq for a long time. We Were One provides some badly needed clarification.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780306815935
Publisher:
Da Capo Press
Publication date:
10/30/2007
Sold by:
Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
280
Sales rank:
163,244
File size:
2 MB

What People are saying about this

Bing West
A magnificent tale of combat-mixing valor, grit, love, blood and sacrifice. This book defines what it means to be a Marine grunt.
—Bing West, author of The March Up and No True Glory
Hampton Sides
Here in these gripping pages is the Iraq War's fiercest battle, seen from the adrenaline-charged vantage of a few Marine buddies who are part of the next "Greatest Generation." We Were One is feelingly narrated by an intrepid war historian who risked his own life to capture every raw minute of their story.
—Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder and Ghost Soldiers
J. N. Mattis
As an embedded journalist in an Infantry Platoon, O'Donnell paints an authentic picture of our Nation's most precious assets--the Marine Riflemen--engaged in one of their fiercest fights. We Were One is a gritty, boots-on-the-ground account that enables readers to witness the overwhelming will and courage of Marines as they move against the enemy.
—J.N. Mattis, Lieutenant General, U.S. Marine Corps, Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force
Willy Buhl
Pat O'Donnell was with us on the ground in Fallujah-house to house. His story is historically accurate and describes the greatest personal and professional test of our lives. We Were One is destined to be a classic of urban close combat, and honors the memory of all who made the ultimate sacrifice for their brother Marines. I am deeply thankful that Pat kept his oath to Lima Company.
—LtCol Willy Buhl, CO Task Force 3/1, Operation AL FAJR
Carlo D'Este
We Were One is a dramatic tale of courage, hardship and the extraordinarily difficult challenges faced by a gallant Marine unit in one of the world's most deadly places. Patrick O'Donnell brilliantly and compassionately recounts the story of our American sons called upon to fight, bleed, die, and survive in a hostile land.
—Carlo D'Este, author of Patton: A Genius For War

Meet the Author

Patrick K. O’Donnell is the author of three previous books, including Beyond Valor, winner of the prestigious William E. Colby Award for Outstanding Military History. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.

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We Were One 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This past summer I was wearing my 'Marines : Camp Fallujah' shirt in D.C. when the author approached me and asked about my experience. I shared some stories from my time fighting outside Fallujah from Jan-Aug 05 with 3/8, and he showed me an advanced copy of the book he had with him. I was both shocked and pleased at the raw emotion and vivid portrayal of my brother Marines in combat that O'Donnel has managed to communicate on the pages - he hasn't left anything out. Just talking to him I know the experience has had a profound impact on him as it has on the rest of the Corps, and I can't recommend this book enough. Semper Fi, Tim Howard.
ski00m More than 1 year ago
Great book. Read it in 2 days. One of the best books of the Iraq war yet.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a former active duty Marine and grunt who served in Lebanon in 1983 this book is what the marines are all about, We take care of our own and fight for each other. This book is what Marine leadership, courage and Honor are all about at the platoon and squad level.and shows that our marines of today serve us proudly once again in harms way
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book let's the people know a positive side of the war. This book tells the story of a brotherhood that not many can understand until to read it or see it.This book shows how marines no older than 24 can come together and take on the bigest,meanest mother out there and still make it fall. We Were One tells the full story nothing added by the auther or something he made up. Trust me i know i was there. My name is Lcpl Lowe i was a saw gunner in Lima Company 1st Platoon 3rd squad. Let Me tell you i read this book and it was so detailed i felt i was back on the streets of fallujha. The description of the smell,sites and crazynes that was going on. Let me tell you dont think about buying this book just do it you wont be disapointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As only 14 years old and with a cousin who most likely fought in this battle I decided to read this. It tells the hardship, grief, heroism, and relief of the Marines who fought and died in the battle to take back Fallujah and most important of all keep you and me and America a free country.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As someone who opposes war, I began to read this book with great reluctance. However after reading this book, it truly depicts war as the title says 'WE WERE ONE'. I have a new found faith and view of our incredibly brave men. As long as these men continue to fight for our freedom, in the way that they due, against incredible odds and terror...then I to must be faithful and brave in my support of the troops. For it is my freedom that they sweat and bleed for everyday! Patrick O'Donnell has brought the battle against terror into my living room. I could not put the book down! Thank you Mr. O'Donnell for the fresh perspective and your honor, courage and bravery!! You truly are an AMERICAN HERO!! This is a must read as seen from the eyes of the author in the midst of the terror!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
My heart hurt reading the experiences of the young men of the 3/1 in Fallujah. Thank you to the author for capturing & sharing the emotions, deep bonding, comradery and selflessness of these Marines. I salute and thank you all. Semper Fi!
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading the above book review I am compelled to respond: How unfortunate that Honor, Sprit de Corp., and idealism isn¿t to be incorporated into the annals of history. Have we learned noting? What was the overriding factor in the US withdrawing in Vietnam? What ideals were the initial US combatants motivated by? What were the ideals of those that fought just prior to the pullout? Entirely different, why? How did that affect the overall campaign? Not only is there a lot of history in the book but also a glimpse into a very near future of Iraq. When a force is well trained, equipped and psychology prepared for a ¿cause¿ and that ¿cause¿ is in keeping with the forces host countries precepts and synergy then there is produced units similar to those found in Mr. O¿Donnell¿s book. Inversely, if this same force, over time, is not operating in a manner both military effective to the type of situation at hand, not following the voiced precepts of their homeland then the both the effectiveness and world perception deteriorates to only the very real mentality of fighting to keep you and yours alive. History is not only facts, figures, and format but also the mental and emotional age and stability of both its fighters and their country. We were forced to withdraw from a very similar situation not so long ago because no one paid attention to the emotional and mental foundation of the troops and their motivation. The motivations provided to them by politicians, the public and world opinion. These men¿s story is a very important part of history and a barometer to be viewed if we chose to reduce our blind spots in dealing with insurgents and terrorists today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a Marine in 2nd plt, lima company, 3/1 Pat O'donnel takes me back to the best memories in my life. A roller coaster ride of emotion, anger, sadness, and delight. Embedded with Lima Co. Pat witnessed the next greatest generation deal with death, hardships, friendships, and the many fogs of war. The readers of this book will be shocked, and dazed as they browse through the pages of this true account of war at its best, and the best that fought it!! To those who read it.......... Semper Fi Cpl Brenden Wright 3/1 Lima Co. 2nd Plt
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone should read this book. You'll sleep better knowing these kinds of kick ass warriors are protecting this country.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
this book is purely amazing. O'Donnells description of events is vivid any easy to imaginate. There are some spelling/grammer errors in the book but personally i could care less about that. I would recommend this book to anyone
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a former Soldier in the United States Army, I find this book to be very informative about the realities of the war of Iraq. As told first hand from Patrick O'donnel who actually experienced the events on a daily basis. The heroic actions of these Marines should also be distributed in a Movie as was the case with the Rangers of Somalia from 'Black Hawk Down'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Outstanding description of one of this century's most horrific battles. This book tells you what the media or government won't. The life and death struggles of the men who paid the ultimate sacrifice. A must read if your want to know how brutal war can be.