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Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistanby Doug Stanton
Synopses & Reviews
andlt;bandgt;From the andlt;iandgt;New York Timesandlt;/iandgt;-bestselling author of andlt;iandgt;In Harm's Wayandlt;/iandgt; comes a true-life story of American soldiers overcoming great odds to achieve a stunning military victory.andlt;/bandgt; andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; andlt;iandgt;Horse Soldiersandlt;/iandgt; is the dramatic account of a small band of Special Forces soldiers who secretly entered Afghanistan following 9/11 and rode to war on horses against the Taliban. Outnumbered forty to one, they pursued the enemy across mountainous terrain and, after a series of intense battles, captured the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, which was strategically essential if they were to defeat the Taliban. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; The bone-weary American soldiers were welcomed as liberators, and overjoyed Afghans thronged the streets. Then the action took a wholly unexpected turn. During a surrender of six hundred Taliban troops, the Horse Soldiers were ambushed. Dangerously outnumbered, they fought for their lives in the city's immense fortress, Qala-i-Janghi, or the House of War. At risk were the military gains of the entire campaign: if the soldiers perished or were captured, the effort to defeat the Taliban might be doomed. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; As the Americans struggled to hold the fortress, they faced some of the most intense urban warfare of our time. But until now the full story of the Horse Soldiers has never been told. Doug Stanton received unprecedented cooperation from the U.S. Army's Special Forces soldiers and Special Operations helicopter pilots, as well as access to voluminous after-battle reports. In addition, he interviewed more than one hundred participants and walked every inch of the climactic battleground. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; This exciting story is filled with unforgettable characters: brave Special Forces soldiers, tough CIA operatives, cunning Afghan warlords, anxious stateside soldiers' wives who do not know where their husbands have gone, and humble Afghan boys spying on the Taliban. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; Deeply researched and beautifully written, Stanton's account of America's quest to liberate an oppressed people touches the mythic. The Horse Soldiers combined ancient strategies of cavalry warfare with twenty-first-century aerial bombardment technology to perform a seemingly impossible feat. Moreover, their careful effort to win the hearts of local townspeople and avoid civilian casualties proved a valuable lesson for America's ongoing efforts in Afghanistan. andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt; andlt;iandgt;Horse Soldiersandlt;/iandgt; is a big-hearted and thrilling read, with an epic story that reaches not just across the cold mountains of Afghanistan but into the homes of small-town America, and confirms Doug Stanton as one of our country's preeminent storytellers.
"In this absolutely riveting account, full of horror and raw courage, journalist Stanton (In Harm's Way) recreates the miseries and triumphs of specially trained mounted U.S. soldiers, deployed in the war-ravaged Afghanistan mountains to fight alongside the Northern Alliance-thousands of rag-tag Afghans who fought themselves to exhaustion or death-against the Taliban. The U.S. contingent, almost to a man, had never ridden horses-especially not these 'shaggy and thin-legged, and short... descendents of the beasts Genghis Khan had ridden out of Uzbekistan'-but that was not the only obstacle: rattling helicopters, outdated maps, questionable air support and insufficient food also played their parts. Stanton brings each soldier and situation to vivid life: 'Bennett suddenly belted out: "It just keeps getting better and better!" Here they were, living on fried sheep and filtered ditchwater...calling in ops-guided bombs on bunkers built of mud and wood scrap, surrounded by Taliban fighters.' In less than three months, this handful of troops secured a city in which a fort had been taken over by Taliban prisoners, a tangle of firefights and mayhem that became a seminal battle and, in Stanton's prose, a considerable epic: 'Dead and dying men and wounded horses had littered the courtyard, a twitching choir that brayed and moaned in the rough, knee-high grass.'" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Horse Soldiers" tells the important story of the Special Forces soldiers who first put American boots on the ground in Afghanistan in 2001. Fighting alongside the Northern Alliance, the troops, often riding on horseback, achieved several important victories against the Taliban. But their accomplishments lose significance in this account by Doug Stanton, a men's magazine writer and author of the best-seller... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) "In Harm's Way," who reduces all the players to stock types. Hollywood will not have to work hard to produce the adaptation: A "hard-as-nails" colonel, with "hands as large as oven mitts," leads troops who do "enough sit-ups and push-ups to make an Olympian god throw up." Jaws flare, muscles ripple, eyes burn like hot coals — all that stuff. Unlike Sean Naylor's 2005 book, "Not a Good Day to Die," an eyewitness report of early U.S. combat in Afghanistan that put the operations within their institutional context, "Horse Soldiers" is a superficial account that only appears to be that of a bystander. As Stanton explains in the author's note, the book is based on interviews, journals, "previously published media accounts, contemporaneous photography, and voluminous official U.S. military logs and histories." Stanton also visited many of the sites he writes about in the book — but not during the time the events he describes were unfolding. Nonetheless, his book is written as if he were there. To wit: An Afghan warlord lights a cigarette and is said to have "exhaled slowly at the sky," closing his eyes to listen for helicopters under a moon that "hung overhead, a bleached horn driven into the flank of the night." A soldier at a base in Uzbekistan, "bored out of his mind," walks outside at night and drives a golf ball off the berm at the edge of the camp: "The ball soared, a white orb sinking in the dirty pond of the night sky." A medic treats a wound from a land mine, "the jellied flesh dark as a ruby." White orbs, dirty ponds of the night, jellied flesh rubies — I kept picturing Snoopy at his typewriter: "It was a dark and stormy night." Prose style aside, readers should approach these kinds of details with skepticism. Those doubts should gather strength as Stanton describes the details of military operations. Special Forces soldiers walk around with "fingers curled around triggers" without having identified anything to shoot. Six troops ride for hours through Taliban country, trailed only by a small and indifferent group of Northern Alliance soldiers for security; then, as they prepare to enter a village, the team commander tells them for the first time to "lock and load." And so on. In short, Stanton has written a book that may interest a general audience but has little to offer policymaker and military professionals. Chris Bray, a former soldier, is a PhD candidate in the history department at UCLA. Reviewed by Chris Bray, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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From the bestselling author of "In Harm's Way" comes a spectacular, harrowing, true-life soldiers' tale of struggle and triumph in the wake of the September 11 attacks. b&w photographs.
From bestselling author Doug Stanton, a harrowing, true-life tale of a band of American soldiers and their struggles and triumphs in Afghanistan
About the Author
Doug Stanton is the author of the New York Times bestseller In Harmand#8217;s Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors. A former contributing editor at Esquire, Sports Afield, and Outside, Stanton is now a contributing editor at Menand#8217;s Journal and has written extensively on travel, sport, entertainment, and history, during which time he nearly drowned in Cape Horn waters, survived a mugging by jungle revolutionaries, played basketball with George Clooney, and took an acting lesson from Harrison Ford.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;Stanton lives in his hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, where he is a member of the advisory board of the Interlochen Center for the Artsand#8217; Motion Picture Arts program, and a trustee of the Pathfinder School.andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;He has taught writing at the college level and worked as a commercial sports fisherman and caretaker of Robert Frostand#8217;s house in Vermont. Stanton graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and Hampshire College in Massachusetts, and also received an MFA from the University of Iowa Writersand#8217; Workshop. He and his wife, the investigative reporter Anne Stanton, haveandnbsp;three children.
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