Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story …

Stanton, Doug. Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan. Scribner: New York, 2009.

Horse Soldiers provides an inside view of the incredible story of the handful of American operatives who were first on the ground in Afghanistan after the horror and shock of the terrorist attacks in American on 9/11. Stanton’s extensive research and interviews of both the Americans and Afghanis involved provide a rare insider’s view of the U.S. Army’s Special Forces and a refreshing look at the Afghani people and their war-torn history. The narrative is spellbinding, gut-wrenching, and extremely difficult to set down. The courage and sacrifices of the families and soldiers, Americans and Afghanis, are gripping in their brutal honesty. These early battles and victories are all the more stunning as the reader gains an appreciation for the brutal terrain, austere environment, and surreal combination of ancient and modern tools and technologies.

Stanton does not conclude this story on the high note of victory. Instead, in the epilogue and afterward, he looks back, from 2009 when this book was released to 2001, when the book’s events took place, and asks the tough questions about what went wrong with American policy and strategy during this time period. One which saw the Taliban regain ground in Afghanistan and American deaths reach record highs. These are necessary questions and include a not-so-subtle rebuke to those who have forgotten or do not care that the U.S. is still engaged in Afghanistan. He makes a strong case for the Special Forces ethos of finding common ground with the locals and working in, with, and through them to regain stability and create enduring change.

This book is highly recommended for all students of history. It should especially be read by current and aspiring strategists and politicians and their advisers.

© Copyright August 2017 by Yvonne R. Roberts

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