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American Spartan: The Promise, the Mission, and the Betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gantby Ann Scott Tyson
Synopses & Reviews
Lawrence of Arabia meets Sebastian Junger's War in this unique, incendiary, and dramatic true story of heroism and heartbreak in Afghanistan written by a Pulitzer Prize-nominated war correspondent
Some have called him "Lawrence of Afghanistan." To the Pashtun tribesmen he is "Commander Jim," leader of the "bearded ones." He is Army Special Forces Major Jim Gant, one of the most charismatic and controversial U.S. commanders of modern memory, a man who changed the face of America's war in Afghanistan when his critical white paper, "One Tribe at a Time," went viral at the Pentagon, the White House, and on Capitol Hill in 2009.
A decorated Green Beret who had spent years training indigenous fighters, Jim argued for embedding autonomous units with tribes across Afghanistan: these American soldiers would live among Afghans for extended periods, not only to train and equip tribal militias, but to fight—and even die—alongside them in battle. He argued that we could earn the trust of the Afghans and transform them into a reliable ally with whom we could defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda networks. The military's top brass, including General David Petraeus, then commander of U.S. Central Command and overseeing the war in Afghanistan, and Admiral Eric Olson, head of Special Operations Command, approved the plan and gave Jim the go-ahead to embark on the mission.
As correspondent Ann Scott Tyson got to know Jim Gant the man as well as the warrior, she saw that there was a larger story to tell—about a people desperate to defend their homes, and about this intense fighter and deeply honorable man who pushed boundaries, despite his own personal demons, and risked life and career to achieve what some thought was impossible. Ann soon came to share Jim's vision that Americans and Pashtuns could fight side-by-side and create real change across the region, so she accompanied him to Afghanistan, risking her life to embed with the tribes and chronicle their experience. This remarkable story—of Jim's close relationships with village elder Noor Afzhal and his family, the fierce fighting they took straight to the enemy in the treacherous mountains of Konar Province, and Ann and Jim's deepening love for each other—is told with a keen sense of drama and immediacy.
A war story like no other, an unprecedented account of a warrior who took up the cause of villagers as if it were his own, and of a woman on the front lines of a distant war, American Spartan is an unforgettable tale—and one of the most remarkable and emotionally resonant narratives of war ever published.
"Tyson, a journalist by trade, offers a momentous account of her now husband, Special Forces Major Jim Gant, and his journey into the deep-seated tribal Pashtuns of Afghanistan. Beginning with President Obama's promise in 2009 to end the war in Iraq and ending with Gant's removal from Afghanistan amidst accusations of the abuse of alcohol and pain medications, the book shows the efforts of one man bent on changing the way the military moves in foreign countries. After serving deployments, Gant published an online treatise on why America is destined to lose the war, arguing there is 'gaping hole in U.S. Strategy: the failure to systematically engage Afghanistan's powerful Pashtun tribes.'Â The paper comes to the attention of President Obama, General Petraeus, and other high ranking military officers who offer Jim the resources he needs to implement his plan. Jim's mission is to assimilate a team of Special Forces to work hand-in-hand with the Pashtun tribes and help to set up the Afghanistan Local Defense Initiative, the Arbakai. In the midst of implementation, Gant starts clashing with U.S. command and his career in the military begins to unravel. Tyson does her best to shade an underlying love affair while showing the action and circumstances surrounding her time with Jim Gant. The affair doesn't appear until page 79 and is never quite awarded the depth of feeling she gives to living in Afghanistan and dealing with the atrocities of war. Many readers will want more on their relationship, at least for the sake of transparency amid Tyson's journalistic style of writing. The overall story is enticing, brutal, and current. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Lawrence of Arabia meets Sebastian Jungers War in this unique, poignantly dramatic true story of heroism and heartbreak in Afghanistan, written by a veteran war correspondent—one of the most remarkable stories of love and war ever told.
Army Special Forces Major Jim Gant changed the face of Americas war effort in Afghanistan. A decorated Green Beret who spent years in Afghanistan and Iraq training indigenous fighters, Gant argued for embedding autonomous units with tribes across Afghanistan to earn the Afghans trust and transform them into a reliable ally to defeat the Taliban and counter al-Qaeda networks. The military's top brass, including General David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, approved, and Gant was tasked with implementing his controversial strategy.
Veteran war correspondent Ann Scott Tyson first spoke with Gant when he was awarded the Silver Star in 2007. Spending time with him, she began to share his vision. Risking her life, she accompanied him to Afghanistan to cover the story. And then they fell in love.
Illustrated with dozens of photographs, American Spartan is their remarkable story—one of the most riveting, emotional narratives of wartime ever published.
About the Author
Ann Scott Tyson is a war correspondent with a decade of combat experience, beginning with the invasion of Iraq. She has written for the Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post and contributed to the Wall Street Journal. A Pulitzer Prize nominee, Tyson is a graduate of Harvard University with an honors degree in government and has studied economics and business at Columbia University. She and Jim Gant are married and live in Seattle, Washington.
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