One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War
Bing West. New York: Random House, 2014. 266 pp. Append. Index. Notes. $27.
Reviewed by Lieutenant Colonel John Nagl, U.S. Army (Retired)
When I travelled in Iraq with Bing West in the summer of 2008 on a military-sponsored trip for defense analysts, Bing refused to wear a helmet like the rest of us. He was comfortable in his well-loved Red Sox cap, but was deeply perturbed that no insurgents took a shot at us—a regular feature of his first eight battlefield circulation visits.
He was a Marine infantryman and combat adviser during the Vietnam War, and while he has since served as an Assistant Secretary of Defense for President Ronald Reagan and as a noted military author, in his gut he’s still a grunt. Of all his books, this is the one that I believe is closest to his heart, for this book is about a platoon of grunts who endured the toughest sustained combat of any platoon in Afghanistan, and likely of any platoon since Bing’s first war: Vietnam.