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Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan (Hardcover)


by Doug Stanton (Author)

Review

"Doug Stanton's Horse Soldiers is as gripping as the most intricately plotted thriller. It is a masterwork of stunning military action, brilliant in-depth journalism, and powerful storytelling. Finally Americans can know how just a few dozen courageous U.S. soldiers beat the Taliban under the most extreme and dangerous conditions imaginable. I could not put this book down."-- Vince Flynn

"Horse Soldiers is a great read -- a riveting story of the brave and resourceful American warriors who rode into Afghanistan after 9/11 and waged war against Al Qaeda. We're hearing many of these stories for the first time -- and from those who waged a war worthy of Rudyard Kipling, James Bond, and Davy Crockett." -- Tom Brokaw

"Doug Stanton's Horse Soldiers is the story of the first large American unconventional warfare operation since World War II. My Green Berets were launched deep into enemy territory to befriend, recruit, equip, advise, and lead their Afghan counterparts to attack the Taliban. The Horse Soldiers succeeded brilliantly with a highly decentralized campaign, reinforced with modern airpower's precision weapons, forcing the Taliban government's collapse in a few months. Doug Stanton captures the gritty realities of the campaign as no other can."-- Geoffrey C. Lambert, major general (retired), U.S. Army, and commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne), 2001-2003

"Not just an epic war story, Horse Soldiers is a beautifully written, intimate portrait of the men and women who lived the battle on the fields of fire -- and at home, too. Their secret mission against the Taliban was intelligent, brave, and undertaken with great care for the good people of Afghanistan. Doug Stanton's superb account is an invaluable insight for policy makers and the public for years to come." -- Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea

"In the spirit of Black Hawk Down and Flags of Our Fathers, Doug Stanton plunges into the heart of a single mission and returns with a stark understanding not only of what happened but what was truly at stake. Through precise reportage and hauntingly rendered battle scenes, Stanton shows that we may ignore this 'forgotten' theater only at our own peril." -- Hampton Sides, author of Ghost Soldiers and Blood and Thunder

Product Description
From the New York Times-bestselling author of In Harm's Way comes a true-life story of American soldiers overcoming great odds to achieve a stunning military victory.

Horse Soldiers 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Horse Soldiers 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.

Saddle up, May 25, 2009
By Timothy Benjamin (Miami Beach, FL USA)


I love memoirs and real-life accounts of fascinating events, and Horse Soldier doesn't disappoint. It's an action-packed, breathless account of American special-forces heroics that helped defeat the Taliban in the months after 9/11. Doug Stanton, bestselling author of In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors, 2001, pens a dime-novel narrative complete with strong-jawed American heroes, sneering villains, colorful natives and a relentless series of melodramatic cliff-hangers.

Enraged at the Taliban's refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden after 9/11, the United States resolved to invade Afghanistan. When military leaders realized it would take months to move soldiers to the distant, landlocked nation, they sent small numbers of elite Special Forces to support opposition fighters, guide precision air attacks and bribe local warlords to join. It worked brilliantly. Stanton recounts the lives of a dozen such soldiers and undercover CIA operatives, revealing their emotions and thoughts, quoting inner monologues and inventing dialogue to dramatize events. He invents similar scenarios for many Afghan figures and for John Walker Lindh, the American who fought for the Taliban. Using diplomatic skills, money, airdropped supplies and high-tech communications equipment, the soldiers inspired Afghan forces, who did almost all the fighting, to unite and crush the Taliban. In the final pages Stanton admits that America squandered this dazzling triumph.

Another great, stranger-than-fiction, true-life story I finished recently that I strongly recommend because it's outstanding is I Love Yous Are for White People: A Memoir (P.S.)

An epic tale brilliantly told, May 5, 2009
By Joe Mielke (Kingsley, MI United States)


Horse Soldiers will take readers from the freezing interior of a high tech Chinook helicopter flying higher than it safely can through the mountains of Afghanistan delivering soldiers to desert gun fights fought on horse back harkening America's old west. It's a modern day Odessy written with a journalist's penchant for detail and Homer's gift for telling a warrior's story.

In the end it is also the harrowing tale of how a small group of American Special Forces and the CIA working with Afghan soldiers managed to defeat the Taliban in one of the world's remotest battlefields.

It's not a book about politics. Stanton sets out to tell what happened, how it happened and who it happened to. He does this with startling attention to detail and a an objective overview of U.S. Military actions.

At one point American bombers can't seem to hit a target whether the bombs are guided by Global Positioning System coordinates or LASERs. Near the end of the book they drop a bomb on some of their own men.

But it is Stanton's ability to weave a story that brings the book alive and takes readers to places they would rather not be to hear things they would rather not hear and to see things they would rather not see and to smell things they would rather not smell.

The story is told in a narrative fashion sometimes switching between Afghan battle and a spouse battling her emotions about whether her husband will come back home. And, although this switching back and forth fills in interesting background, it's a technique more akin to screen writing than book writing. It makes it harder for readers to keep track of what's happening to whom.

There are unusual moments as when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld actually calls and asks why the soldiers aren't making enough progress and one of Special Forces officers writes a reply that Rumsfeld reads from during a press conference describing the miserable conditions and bravery of the Afghan fighters.

Stanton writes about the complexity of flying a helicopter under extreme conditions; cold, wind and extreme altitude like this: "You had essentially flown to the dead end of a physics equation."

Stanton relied on more than 100 books, articles and web sites and an equal number of interviews in writing this well documented book. He also traveled to Afghanistan to flesh out details and to see the fort where one of the major battles took place.

The book appeals to general readers seeking a good story well told as well as to those with an interest in history and the military. It also is a testament to the effectiveness of soldier-philiosphers who can outthink their enemies and think with their allies before they start shooting.

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