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One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War Paperback – June 9, 2015

4.7 out of 5 stars 485 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


“A compelling account of what these men endured . . . [Bing] West is at his best describing the tactical decisions of small-unit leaders. The opening chapters give a heart-pounding portrayal of the battalion’s brutal first month. . . . What makes these Marines so impressive is not that they are superhumans for whom danger and exhaustion are their natural habitat and killing a joy, but very young men for whom the prospect of walking 2.6 miles a day for six months over IED-riddled ground is no more appealing than it would be for anyone else. . . . Only two years after 3rd Platoon’s final patrol there, the district’s governor was proclaiming, ‘Sangin is like an open space for the Taliban.’ If we’re going to do better in the future, stories like this need to be told.”—Phil Klay, The Washington Post

“A gripping, boot-level account of Marines in Afghanistan during the bloody struggle with Taliban fighters . . . [West’s] style is narrative, almost novelistic, capturing the personalities of individual Marines and their roles in the platoon. . . . His approach here is pointillist, sharp colors that blend into a cohesive picture.”Los Angeles Times

“A blistering assault on America’s senior military leadership.”The Wall Street Journal

“Bing West has reconfirmed his standing as one of the most intrepid and insightful observers of America’s wars. . . . One Million Steps reveals the essence of small-unit combat, the very soul of war.”The Weekly Standard

“This book is a searing read, but it is one that all Americans should undertake. We send our sons into battle, and few know what our warriors experience.”—Gary Anderson, The Washington Times
“A moving account of bravery . . . Marine veteran [Bing] West offers a suspenseful account of the perilous mission, during which the platoon suffered a greater than 50 percent casualty rate. . . . West demonstrates the tenacity and cohesion that kept this fighting force together and driven despite the horrendous conditions. The author gives a terrific overview of the Western attempt after 9/11 to expunge Al-Qaida, while the U.S. remained ostensibly to build a democratic nation.”Kirkus Reviews

“This new book, I believe, will go down in American military history as one of the most important books written about the ‘long wars’ of the twenty-first century in the Middle East.”—Nicholas Warr, author of Phase Line Green: The Battle for Hue, 1968

One Million Steps should be mandatory reading for every citizen who wants to understand the reality of the war we are in with those who would destroy our civilization and kill us. It is a stunning, sobering, and brilliantly written book. Every presidential candidate should read it and then meet with Bing West. It is a first step to rethinking the thirteen years of strategic failure we have been engaged in.”—Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives and author of A Nation Like No Other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters
One Million Steps transcends combat narrative: It is an epic of contemporary small-unit combat that in austere prose depicts the old fighting virtues of selflessness, skill, and perseverance. It is, at the same time, a stinging indictment of our strategy in Afghanistan that inspires reflection on wars upon which we have closed one chapter, but not, in all probability, the book.”—Eliot A. Cohen, author of Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime
“Bing West has created another masterpiece of war reporting. His first, The Village, was his personal account of leading a Marine rifle platoon in Vietnam. Now he has done it again. If you want a firsthand account of small-unit infantry combat, this book is it, and few others will ever top it.”—Colonel Gian Gentile, U.S. Army (retired), author of Wrong Turn: America’s Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency
“Bing West has spent a decade chronicling the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from the Marine grunt’s viewpoint. West has seen more war than most professional soldiers or Marines, and he has never flinched at going where the fighting is heaviest. One Million Steps is the latest (and he says final) product of his courageous ground-level reporting. Like his other books, it displays remarkable empathy for the warriors on the front lines. West shows the reality of modern warfare in a way that is utterly gripping—and utterly different from the sanitized picture presented in the news.”—Max Boot, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present
“One of the most intrepid military journalists of our time, Bing West, delivers a heart-wrenching account of one platoon’s fight for victory and survival on the front lines of Afghanistan. West reveals what inspired these fearless warriors, and what each of us can learn from them.”—William J. Bennett, host of Morning in America and author of America: The Last Best Hope
“These are Marines at the Marine Corps’s best—worthy successors to all who wore the cloth before them. Bing West uses his Marine infantry experience in Vietnam to great advantage, comparing and contrasting strategy, tactics, technology, and daily life. He ends by expressing frustration because such great sacrifices are being made willingly and eagerly by admirable Marines—but to what end? This book will indeed make you think and ask why.”—Brigadier General Thomas V. Draude, USMC (Ret.), president of the Marine Corps University Foundation
“Once again, Bing West has absolutely nailed it! This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to know how much we ask of the young men and women who fight on our behalf. And it’s a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the human element—and the human toll—of war in the modern era.”—Donovan Campbell, New York Times bestselling author of Joker One: A Marine Platoon’s Story of Courage, Leadership, and Brotherhood

About the Author

Bing West has written eleven books, including, with Jim Mattis, the #1 New York Times bestseller Call Sign Chaos. He served as a Marine grunt in Vietnam and later as an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration. He has been on hundreds of patrols in Iraq and Afghanistan, including many operations with General Mattis. He is a member of the Military History Working Group at the Hoover Institution. He lives with his wife, Betsy, in Hilton Head, South Carolina, and Newport, Rhode Island.

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 9, 2015)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0812980913
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0812980912
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 10.9 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 485 ratings

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Bing West's novel, The Last Platoon, is the story of duty in savage, unwinnable combat. West served in Marine infantry in Vietnam. A graduate of Georgetown and Princeton Universities, he has served as both Special Assistant to Secretary of Defense and as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security. Based on his own combat and dozens of embeds over the decades, he has written a dozen books about the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the co-author of General Jim Mattis's memoir, Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead, that is on the Commandant's Required Reading List. He has twice been awarded the Department of Defense Distinguished Civilian Service medal, as well as numerous awards for his reporting on combat.

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
485 global ratings

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Reviewed in the United States on July 14, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on December 5, 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars This book hits close to home, RIP Sgt Joe "Mad Dog" Myers 12/2/21
By Curcio on December 5, 2021
Incredible book detailing the situation in Afghanistan first hand. For ten years my friend told me very little of what he experienced when he was deployed. But about 6 months back we were talking and he asked if I could keep a secret, he said there was a book out there about his platoon. But he didn't like to tell anyone about it, typical marine attitude I guess. Unfortunately it sat on my coffee table for months. Last week my friend died unexpectedly, and I finally decided to pick it up and give it a read. While I have enjoyed reading this book and getting to imagine some of the things he experienced especially the stories that involve him first hand. It's also incredibly difficult to imagine the baggage these marines took home with them, I had no idea the gravity of his experience. I know it deeply effected him, but serving his country was his greatest honor. As the book mentions Joe Myers was an incredible story teller and could regularly bring a room to tears from laughter, he will be greatly missed.
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Reviewed in the United States on May 27, 2017
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2.0 out of 5 stars A Sadly Misguided Rant
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 26, 2015
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Mark C.
4.0 out of 5 stars A ground-level and birds-eye view of the Afghan conflict in one read
Reviewed in Canada on July 3, 2015
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