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First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11 by [Toby Harnden]

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First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11 Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews


"Desperately moving."

-- "The Spectator, on Dead Men Risen" --This text refers to the audioCD edition.

About the Author

Toby Harnden has been a journalist for 25 years, after previously spending 10 years in the Royal Navy. He is currently the managing editor of the Washington Examiner, previously he was the Washington Bureau chief of The Sunday Times in London. He has written two military books that were bestsellers in Britain and received critical acclaim. His second book, Dead Men Risen, won the Orwell Prize in 2012.

Dan Woren is an American voice actor and Earphones Award-winning narrator. He has worked extensively in animation, video games, and feature films. He is best known for his many roles in anime productions such as Bleach and as the voice of Sub-Zero in the video game Mortal Kombat.

--This text refers to the audioCD edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08RYQY1KQ
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Little, Brown and Company (September 7, 2021)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ September 7, 2021
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 49042 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Screen Reader ‏ : ‎ Supported
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Sticky notes ‏ : ‎ On Kindle Scribe
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 449 pages
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 389 ratings

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Toby Harnden, author of First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA Mission to Avenge 9/11, is a winner of the Orwell Prize for Books. A former foreign correspondent for the Sunday Times of London and the Daily Telegraph who reported from thirty-three countries, he specializes in terrorism and war. Born in Portsmouth, England, Harnden was imprisoned in Zimbabwe, prosecuted in Britain for protecting confidential sources, and vindicated by a $23 million public inquiry in Ireland. A dual British and US citizen, he spent a decade as a Royal Navy officer before becoming a journalist. He holds a First Class degree in modern history from Oxford and is the author of Bandit Country: The IRA & South Armagh and Dead Men Risen: An Epic Story of War and Heroism in Afghanistan. Previously based in London, Belfast, Jerusalem, Baghdad, and Washington, DC, he lives in Virginia.

Harnden was Washington bureau chief of The Sunday Times of London from 2013 to 2018. In 2013, he was reporter and presenter of the BBC Panorama Special documentary "Broken by Battle," dealing with suicide and PTSD among British soldiers. The program was shortlisted for a Royal Television Society award, won the Mind Media Award for Speaking Out, and was the closing film of Prix Bayeux.

Previously, Harnden worked in a variety of roles for the Telegraph over the course of 17 years, based in London, Belfast, Washington, Jerusalem, and Baghdad, finishing as US Editor from 2006 to 2011. Harnden was US Executive Editor of Mail Online and US Editor of The Daily Mail during the 2012 US presidential election campaign. He has reported from all 50 US states and traveled from coast to coast four times. He made several reporting trips to Afghanistan from 2006 to 2010, culminating in his second book Dead Men Risen, about the Welsh Guards in Helmand, Afghanistan, which won the 2012 Orwell Prize for books, Britain's most prestigious award for political writing.

Harnden was The Sunday Telegraph’s Chief Foreign Correspondent from 2005 to 2006. He has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Bahrain, Syria, Jordan, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Austria, Italy, Estonia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, United States, Colombia, and Thailand. In 2005, he was imprisoned in Zimbabwe for 14 days after being arrested and charged with "practicing journalism without accreditation." He was subsequently acquitted, deported, and banned from Zimbabwe.

Harnden was Middle East Correspondent of The Daily Telegraph from 2003, based in Jerusalem but traveling throughout the region. He spent much of 2004 and 2005 covering the war in Iraq. He was a "unilateral" reporter during the siege of Najaf in August 2004 and three months later was embedded with the US Army's Task Force 2-2 during the battle of Fallujah.

From 1999 to 2003, Harnden was The Daily Telegraph's Washington bureau chief. He was in Washington on September 11th 2001 and reported extensively on the aftermath of 9/11. He joined The Daily Telegraph in 1994 as a home news reporter before being posted to Belfast as the newspaper's Ireland Correspondent in 1996. He subsequently covered the Good Friday Agreement and the Omagh bombing of 1998 as well as numerous explosions, ceasefires, shootings, riots, marches and political crises.

The culmination of Harnden's work in Northern Ireland was the publication of Bandit Country: The IRA & South Armagh (Hodder & Stoughton 1999), which sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide and is considered essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the Irish Troubles. Harnden was held to be in contempt of the Bloody Sunday tribunal for refusing to identify two confidential sources he had quoted in a 1999 article. He faced prosecution and was threatened with jail but declined to break his promise to grant anonymity to his sources. The case against him was dropped in 2004 after a five-year legal battle. In 2013, the Smithwick Tribunal concluded that controversial allegations contained in Bandit Country were true. In Bandit Country, Harnden had alleged that collusion with the IRA by an Irish police had been behind the 1989 killings of Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan, the two most senior RUC officers murdered during the Troubles. The tribunal's verdict, reached after an eight-year inquiry costing €15 million ($23 million), 'absolutely vindicated" Harnden's allegations 14 years after they had been made.

Harnden was born in Portsmouth in 1966 and grew up in Marple, Cheshire and Rusholme, Manchester. After leaving St Bede’s College, Manchester in 1984, he was commissioned into the Royal Navy and attended Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. He then went up to Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he was elected president of the Junior Common Room in 1987 and awarded a First in Modern History from Oxford University in 1988. He received a College Prize for academic work and the Miles Clauson Prize for contribution to college life. Harnden retired from the Navy in 1994 as a Lieutenant after service ashore in Rosyth and Plymouth naval bases and at sea in the assault ships HMS Fearless, and HMS Intrepid, the minesweeper HMS Itchen, the destroyers HMS Manchester and HMS Edinburgh and the frigate HMS Cornwall. During his training he was an exchange officer with the Royal Norwegian Navy, helping transport reindeer on troop landing craft. His final naval appointment was in the Ministry of Defence as Flag Lieutenant to the Second Sea Lord.

He began in journalism as a theatre reviewer at the Edinburgh Fringe and as an obituary writer before becoming a full-time news reporter with The Daily Telegraph, based at its headquarters in London. Harnden has also worked for the Leith Leader, The Scotsman, the Western Morning News (Plymouth) and The Independent. He has been published in The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, The Sun, Evening Standard, The Spectator, Literary Review, Naval Review, East End Life, Oxford Student, Conde Nast Traveller, Grazia, the American Spectator, Washingtonian, Soldier of Fortune, Zoo and Men's Health.

Harnden has appeared on CNN, PBS, Fox, MSNBC, CNBC, C-SPAN, BBC, Sky, GMTV, Channel 4 News and the Radio 4 Today program as well as outlets in the Republic of Ireland, Canada and Australia. He has spoken at Harvard and Oxford Universities, Shrivenham Royal Military College, the British-American Business Association and the Hay, Lichfield and Dartington literary festivals.

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
389 global ratings

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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly Accurate Account of Small Team Combat by CIA and SF Pilot Teams in Afghanistan in 2001
By David L. Phillips on November 15, 2021
Toby Harndens developed an excellent story with key interconnected accounts drawn from interviews of participants in a highly dangerous and great adventure that is filled with historical accuracy ranging from normally classified accounts of CIA paramilitary officers and Special Forces teams that infiltrated into northern Afghanistan within weeks of the terrorist attack into the USA. This amazingly accurate book was difficult for me to read and on several occasions I had to put it down – as the participants caught up in this excellent history are personal friends. Their accounts are amazingly accurate.

Toby clearly understands the writing craft and has managed to bring their history alive with very believable characters explaining fast-paced action through their compelling accounts. His accuracy even included an account of Justin Sapp’s attraction to his adventurous profession in Special Forces that began with a childhood evacuation from Beirut where his father, Kenneth, was assigned as a CIA officer. It is this level of detail that brings the entire history in which small CIA and Special Forces teams were able to achieve surprising results into the minds of readers instead of being a dry, historical account of the paramilitary campaign in Afghanistan resulting in capturing the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif in November 2001 and Kabul, itself, four days later. There are few accounts of similar successes of irregular warfare in the history of warfare.

Toby Harndens provides excellent Insights into the primary characters in his excellent book, such as Mike Spann, David Tyson, Justin Sapp, Alex Hernandez, and Team Leader JR Seeger, but he also explains the enduring dangers faced by all of CIA’s paramilitary officers. For example, Team Alpha’s medic, Mark Rausenberger, continued to volunteer for hazardous assignments in Iraq and died from a heart condition while on an operation in the Philippines in 2016 --to be memorialized as a 121st star that was carved into the CIA’s memorial wall that contained thirty-five stars prior to 2001. Glenn R., Team Bravo’s medic, was the only CIA officer on the team that attempted to rescue Mike Spann and his photograph in the book is obscured with the usual “black redaction.”

Following Mike Spann’s death in 2001, an additional fifty-six stars were added by 2021 and the stories of each of these memorial stars are unlikely to ever be told due to security considerations. Toby’s account of Team Alpha also helps us to understand these undocumented losses.

Buy this book. The tribal, ethnic, and religious dynamics of a nearly unexplainable population documented in this account will be very useful in understanding the anti-Taliban resistance that is forming and is likely to become violently active in 2022. The key indigenous leaders in Toby’s account are now involved in the National Resistance Front that opposes the Pashtun-based Taliban.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on December 5, 2022
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