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The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green Berets Fought for a New Afghanistan (P.S.) Kindle Edition
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"The one book you must read if you have any hope of understanding what our fine American soldiers are up against in Afghanistan.” —Former Congressman Charlie Wilson
From the author of the award-winning THE LAST SEASON, the untold story of the U.S. Army Special Forces team that conquered the Taliban against overwhelming odds while protecting Hamid Karzai, viewed at the time as the country’s best hope for a successful, democratically-elected leader.
On a moonless night just weeks after September 11, 2001, a U.S. Special Forces team of Green Berets known as ODA 574 infiltrated the mountains of southern Afghanistan with a seemingly impossible mission: to foment a tribal revolt and force the Taliban to surrender. Armed solely with the equipment they could carry on their backs, shockingly scant intelligence, and their mastery of guerrilla warfare, Captain Jason Amerine and his ten men had no choice but to trust their only ally, a little-known Pashtun statesman named Hamid Karzai. Having returned from exile, Karzai—on the run from the Taliban—was traveling the countryside to raise a militia.
The Only Thing Worth Dying For chronicles the most important mission in the early days of the Global War on Terror, when the men on the ground knew little about the enemy—and their commanders in Washington knew even less. With unprecedented access to surviving members of ODA 574, key war planners, and Karzai himself, award-winning author Eric Blehm cuts through the noise of politicians and high-level military officials to narrate for the first time a story of uncommon bravery and terrible sacrifice, intimately exposing the realities of unconventional warfare and nation-building in Afghanistan that continue to shape the region today.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B00338QEUQ
- Publisher : HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (January 8, 2010)
- Publication date : January 8, 2010
- Language : English
- File size : 1431 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Sticky notes : On Kindle Scribe
- Print length : 513 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: #357,162 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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Things develop faster than anticipated and the unit finds itself fighting alongside locals to take over towns soon after their landing. Working closely with Hamid Karzai the group and Pashtun leader learn to respect each other. Against special operations doctrine, headquarters soon send more senior officers on site to "support" Amerine's and Karzai's efforts to oust the Taliban.
Tensions soon develop between ODA 574 and the newcomers, when superior officers start to mingle in the day to day operations. ODA 574's tour in Afghanistan ends in tragedy.
The book is well written and Blehm has managed to keep it interesting on two levels. On one hand, The Only Thing Worth Dying For is a traditional war hero story, packed with adrenalin filled descriptions of firefights and cool military technology. Reading about a massive air operation against a hundred Taliban trucks threatening to overrun the unit's and their guerillas' positions, kept me glued to the book. It also gives a look into the politics inside the military.
However, the book has another background story; that of Hamid Karzai and the political situation in Afghanistan. Karzai in 2001 was just one Pashtun leader among many warlords, unknown internationally. Blehm's book sets the stage for Karzai's ascent to spokesman of the interim government in Afghanistan, and ultimately presidency of the country, his current position. The author gives a exceedingly positive picture of the Pashtun leader (as does Rashid), who has come under heavy criticism in recent years. In these uncertain early months of the Afghan-American offensive against the Taliban, Karzai is portrayed as the only possible leader for the whole country.
Blehm's writing style is quite light and despite being documentary, the book relies much on dialogue. There must be quite a lot of the author's influence in the story, but it makes this shortish book immensely readable. If you like books filled with machismo and modern warfare action and want to learn something about recent Afghan history at the same time, I can recommend this one!
The narrative recounts the struggles of a small group of men who defeated the Taliban in their tribal heartland and brought Hamid Karzai to power in 2001. Despite our American fascination with technology and firepower, war remains a uniquely human endeavor. Blehm's characters are fully developed because he captures the human condition in extraordinary circumstances: valor and cowardice, the altruistic and the self-interested, skill and luck.
Those of us who directly participated in these events have praised this book as the first one to paint the full picture of what happened after 9/11. Accurately capturing every facet of this strategic turning point required exhaustive research. The author interviewed everyone from Special Forces teammates to Afghan President Karzai. He uses official documents, but steers clear of CIA or Department of Defense self-appraisals that paint an overly flattering picture. In total, this provides the reader with a visceral understanding of both modern combat and the timeless concepts of the fog and friction of war.
"The Only Thing Worth Dying For" is an engrossing read that is also enlightening. Eric Blehm provides a rare look at Hamid Karzai as our nation makes pivotal decisions on the way forward in Afghanistan. And as our nation grapples with terrorist threats in places like Yemen and Somalia, this book provides a lesson in succeeding on the ground without a large commitment of forces.
Top reviews from other countries
Eric Blehm's capture of the humility and professionalism of ODA 574, the team of Green Berets led by Captain Jason Amerine, is exceptional. There's just enough backstory on the strong characters of the team members to understand their personalities without delving into a portfolio of yawnsville biographies. This in turn really makes the guys real people to the reader, not just names on a page or possible characters in movie in the reader's mind.
I found the lack of swashbuckling contacts and firefights almost a relief, with the most interesting thing within the book being the forging of the relationships between the SF guys, Hamid Karzai and his Afghan fighters. Don't get me wrong, there is a good amount of detail on the contacts that happened but its not cover to cover fire and manoeuvre as some books rely on to sell. It highlights more of the patience and earning of trust that builds strong bonds exactly the way these elements should. When you stick to your trusted game plan, the results are what you strive for. If for whatever reason - or whoever's reason - you deviate from it, that's when things tend to start breaking down; as is painfully (and totally avoidably) illustrated in December 2001 when egos of certain bombastic higher ranks start throwing their weight around in environments they shouldn't even be in let alone giving commands in.
In short, a great piece of work detailing a true account of Special Forces soldiering on the highest level on a mission for all the right reasons. Its just unfortunate that as soon as the chest beating higher echelons get involved, it is as always, the lower ranks that come off worse.