“A momentous account… The overall story is enticing, brutal, and current.” (Publishers Weekly)
“An astonishing new account . . . This book will be read a lot longer than most books about the American war in Afghanistan. It especially will resonate with people interested in Special Forces… We need people like Gant to do real foreign internal defense.” (Tom Ricks)
“Tyson concentrates on Gant’s campaign, which produced plenty of fireworks, heroism, suffering and, this being Afghanistan, constant frustration. . . . One of the only satisfying products of a dismally unsatisfying war: this entertaining book.” (Kirkus Reviews)
is a riveting, powerful account of the service of Major Jim Gant, a man seen by many of us as the “perfect counterinsurgent” . . . Ann Scott Tyson had a ring-side seat . . . and takes us there in this extraordinary, gripping book.” (General David H. Petraeus
(US Army, Ret.))
“This story captivated me like no other I’ve read on combat action in Afghanistan. I don’t condone Jim Gant’s every decision or the way he did things, but I do respect the hell out of what he did as a warrior.” (Dalton Fury, author of Kill Bin Laden
“In the half-century since Robin Moore’s The Green Berets
, no other account of Special Forces at war could match its range and depth and candor-until now. American Spartan
will enlighten and disturb readers with its searing honesty...” (Dr. Kalev I. Sepp, former Green Beret and coauthor of Weapon of Choice
of the Afghanistan War, a mixture of romanticism, fantasy and hard-core dedication. . . . Read this book to savor the rich, candid details of love between a man and a woman, between Afghan and American comrades in battle, and between two cultures.” (Washington Post)
“Masterfully written and moving . . . [American Spartan
] is a must read and will stand the test of time.” (Chicago Tribune)
“Tyson raises a host of serious questions about the nature of war, the many aspects of loyalty, and the price paid by America’s front-line fighters.” (Christian Science Monitor)
From the Back Cover
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.