One Million Steps

Title: One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War
Published by: Random House
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Authors: Bing West
ISBN13: 978-1400068746
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Battalion 3/5 suffered the highest number of casualties in the war in Afghanistan. This is the story of one platoon in that distinguished battalion.

Aware of U.S. plans to withdraw from the country, knowing their efforts were only a footprint in the sand, the fifty Marines of 3rd Platoon fought in Sangin, the most dangerous district in all of Afghanistan. So heavy were the casualties that the Secretary of Defense offered to pull the Marines out. Instead, they pushed forward. Each Marine in 3rd Platoon patrolled two and a half miles a day for six months—a total of one million steps—in search of a ghostlike enemy that struck without warning. Why did the Marines attack and attack, day after day?

Every day brought a new skirmish. Each footfall might trigger an IED. Half the Marines in 3rd Platoon didn’t make it intact to the end of the tour. One Million Steps is the story of the fifty brave men who faced these grim odds and refused to back down. Based on Bing West’s embeds with 3rd Platoon, as well as on their handwritten log, this is a gripping grunt’s-eye view of life on the front lines of America’s longest war. Writing with a combat veteran’s compassion for the fallen, West also offers a damning critique of the higher-ups who expected our warriors to act as nation-builders—and whose failed strategy put American lives at unnecessary risk.

Each time a leader was struck down, another rose up to take his place. How does one man instill courage in another? What welded these men together as firmly as steel plates?

This remarkable book is the story of warriors caught between a maddening, unrealistic strategy and their unswerving commitment to the fight. Fearsome, inspiring, and poignant in its telling, One Million Steps is sure to become a classic, a unique and enduring testament to the American warrior spirit.


“writing of the highest order.”
– Amazon Pick of the Month

“an epic of contemporary small unit combat… a stinging indictment of our strategy.
–Eliot Cohen, author of Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime

“views the Afghan war through the lens of 50 Marines in the Third Platoon—half of whom did not return home…The title derives from the two-and-a-half-mile circuit the platoon patrolled every day for six months—a total of one million steps…Sending Marines into places like Sangin, expecting that the population and the Afghan army would then hold what the Marines dearly gained was an illusion.”
– Publishers Weekly

“Stunning, sobering, and brilliantly written… Every presidential candidate should read it… … a first step to rethinking 13 years of strategic failure.
– Newt Gingrich

“One of the most intrepid military journalists, West delivers a heart wrenching account of one platoon’s fight”
– Bill Bennett, host of “Morning in America”

“Bing has seen more war than most professional soldiers…utterly gripping – and utterly different from the sanitized picture.”
– Max Boot, author of Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare

“Bing uses his infantry experience in Vietnam to great advantage…The losses of life and limb are devastating… the frustration of seeing such great sacrifices…to what end?”
– Brigadier General Thomas Draude, USMC (Ret)

“West has created another masterpiece of war reporting… he was there, mired in the mud and blood with his fellow marines. 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, author of Wrong Turn: America’s Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency

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

“A heart-pounding portrayal . . . a compelling account of what these men endured.”
The Washington Post

“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

“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.”
The Washington Times