I picked up Joker One by Donovan Campbell after reading his article in Guideposts magazine. I wanted to see how his faith fared while he was immersed in the military/combat life. In the book, the faith/Christian themes are pretty low-key; however, the insightful observations Campbell draws about the human spirit and LOVE in particular were – at least for me – a clear expression of his spirituality.
This is the most balanced war memoir I’ve read. It’s not about politics and it’s not dripping with military ego/pride. Campbell’s ability to be straightforward and honest about his own shortcomings, regrets and emotional state is truly compelling. It’s about his personal journey and how he is changed by what he experiences – and he’s not afraid to tell it like it is. He’s obviously driven, and he’s hard on himself.
In fact, I found parallel characteristics between Campbell and Major Aaron Bricewick, the fictional ‘star’ of True Surrender, my novel-in-progress! So there was an extra element of discovery in reading this … any doubts I had about whether my character was acting realistically were settled!
Besides that, Campbell’s either got a natural knack for writing or an incredible editor, because this book pulls everything together in a way that other Iraq memoirs I’ve read haven’t. And – let’s face it – ‘technically’ good writing makes for an easier read, allowing the book concept to really come to life. Nothing gets in the way of Campbell’s sometimes powerful realizations … which is just what I’ve been working on in True Surrender!