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Beyond Hell and Back: How America's Special Operations Forces Became the World's Greatest Fighting Unit Paperback – Bargain Price, October 14, 2008

ISBN-10: 031238467X Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031238467X
  • ASIN: B0046LUGWG
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,457,323 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Looking at seven landmark U.S. military Special Operations missions, from 1970s Vietnam to Iraq in the 21st century, military writers Zimmerman and Gresham (Special Forces: A Guided Tour, with Tom Clancy) detail how the secretive, oft-misunderstood Special Ops forces have developed into "the best in the world" at carrying out high-risk/high-reward, and often highly classified, missions. Both successes (like the "Immaculate Mission" during Operation Iraqi Freedom) and failures (like the 1980 attempt to rescue U.S. Embassy personnel in Iran) are documented in exhausting detail, and cogent analysis spells out the consequences; for example, a raid on a POW prison in Hanoi didn't bring anyone home, but did drive the North Vietnamese to treat its prisoners more humanely, and pushed them toward peace talks in Paris. Zimmerman and Gresham excel at distilling incredibly complex mission planning and execution, making this a great read for military buffs, as well as for casual readers interested in the underlying issues that have fueled recent U.S. military conflicts.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Zimmerman and Gresham excel at distilling incredibly complex mission planning and execution, making this a great read for military buffs, as well as for casual readers interested in the underlying issues that have fueled recent U.S. military conflicts." --Publishers Weekly

"Two highly qualified writers on military affairs provide an excellent introduction to the U.S. Army Special Forces in combat. It consists of a series of excellent narratives of crucial episodes, from the abortive Son Tay POW rescue mission in Vietnam to the Iran hostage rescue to recent actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. In each, Zimmerman and Gresham cover the action well and integrate portraits of key leaders, from Bull Simons of the Son Tay mission on, and the development of support technologies, especially reconnaissance drones and stealth helicopters. They also account for how recruitment has changed with changes in tactical doctrine required by new areas of responsibility, and they provide a superb bibliography for readers wishing to press their Special Forces knowledge forward. Neither Special Forces nor this study of them has very many equals." --Booklist
 
"From the audacious Son Tay raid, to the tragedy of Desert One, to the remarkable successes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Dwight Zimmerman and John Gresham have compiled a remarkable history of the missions that span the full spectrum of SOF capabilities.  BEYOND HELL AND BACK is an excellent beginning to providing insight into some of the hundreds of historical missions that have helped forge today’s modern Special Operations Forces." --Sgt. 1st Class Frank Antenori, US Army (retired), bestselling author of ROUGHNECK NINE ONE: The Story of a Special Forces A-Team at War
 
"Once regarded as the red-headed stepchild of the armed forces, special operations has become the point of the spear in the global war on terrorism. This book records the recent feats of America's special operations troops—Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Delta Force, others—in a clean, crisp narrative that often reads more like a riveting screenplay or novel than military history. It shows that even in an age of high-tech gizmos, the human element—the warrior with guts and skill—is as important as it was in the days of Alexander the Great. A must-read for military professionals and laymen alike."—Philip Caputo, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of the bestselling A Rumor of War.
 
"Desert Storm's success depended on the integration of special operations and conventional air power.  Task Force Normandy became the pattern that led to much larger operations in Afghanistan and again in Iraq.  To understand how we now fight, you must read BEYOND HELL AND BACK." --General Chuck Horner, USAF (Ret.), former Commander in Chief, SPACECOM and co-author with Tom Clancy of EVERY MAN A TIGER.
 
"When I need to know something fast about the operational and technical aspects of the military today, I reach for the phone and call John Gresham. His decades of working closely with the military, here in Washington, DC and in the field are why I and others trust him regularly to give us the roadmap to what we need to know for our own work. BEYOND HELL AND BACK is just the latest reason for keeping his number close." —Larry Bond, New York Times bestselling author

"I was there from the beginning of modern American Special Operations, so for me the stories in BEYOND HELL AND BACK are more than just history. They are some of the threads of my life, and those of the community I served in for more than three decades. Ably told by Zimmerman and Gresham, this is the story about how we made the force that is today America's tip of the spear in the Global War on Terror." —Colonel Lee Mize, USA (Ret.), Medal of Honor Recipient

More About the Author

DWIGHT JON ZIMMERMAN is a bestselling and award-winning author, radio show host, producer, and president of the Military Writers Society of America.

Zimmerman's latest book is AREA 51 THE GRAPHIC HISTORY OF AMERICA'S MOST SECRET MILITARY INSTALLATION. It gets behind the scenes and reveals the amazing story of one of America's most controversial secret military installations.

Zimmerman is the co-author, with Bill O'Reilly, of the New York Times #1 bestselling LINCOLN'S LAST DAYS, a young adult adaptation of Bill O'Reilly's bestselling KILLING LINCOLN. LINCOLN'S LAST DAYS won the 2013 Branson Stars and Flags Grand Prize, the second year in a row that Zimmerman received the organization's highest honor.

Zimmerman's book, SAGA OF THE SIOUX, a young adult adaptation of Dee Brown's classic history of the American West, has been acclaimed by critics as "a powerful work" (School Library Journal), "a masterful adaptation" (VOYA), "cogent, heartbreaking narration" BCCB, "history classes and others interested in this period will welcome this offering" (Booklist), and others. It received the 2012 Gold Medal in the Young Adult Non-Fiction category from the Military Writers Society of America and the 2012 Branson Stars and Flags Book Awards Grand Prize, the organization's highest honor.

Zimmerman has written a series of articles commemorating the 70th anniversary of World War II for Defense Media Network chronologically recounting events of that conflict. They offer a fascinating mix of history and human interest and can be read for free at Defense Media Network's website: www.defensemedianetwork.com.

Zimmerman is the co-author, with John D. Gresham of UNCOMMON VALOR: The Medal of Honor and the Six Warriors Who Earned It in Afghanistan and Iraq, which has received the Military Writers Society of America's most prestigious honor, the MWSA Founder's Award for 2010.

His first book, FIRST COMMAND: Paths to Leadership, which has a foreword by James M. McPherson, presents the pivotal challenges and events that occurred in the early careers of generals from George Washington to Colin Powell and how they overcame them. Zimmerman was the co-executive producer of the cable television miniseries based on his book. The miniseries debuted on the Military Channel in 2005 and has been regularly aired on the channel ever since. It won the 2005 Aurora Platinum Best of Show Award for Historical Programming. In 2009, the book received the Branson Stars and Flags Gold Medal Award in the Reference/Technical category. First Command is on the U.S. Army Chief of Infantry Recommended Reading List: Junior NCOs.

Zimmerman has written two acclaimed popular surveys of wars and weapons through the ages. THE BOOK OF WAR, about pivotal battles, leaders, and strategies from ancient to modern times, received the 2009 Gold Medal Award for Reference by the Military Writers Society of America. This was followed by THE BOOK OF WEAPONS, a critically acclaimed sequel about important weapons, weapon designers, and arms manufacturers and merchants throughout history.

Zimmerman is also the author of two graphic histories. THE VIETNAM WAR: A Graphic History, illustrated by Wayne Vansant, a ground-breaking book that for the first time recounted the entire Vietnam War in the graphic novel format. It received the 2010 Gold Medal Award: Artistic/Graphic from the Military Writers Society of America and the 2010 Branson Stars and Flags Gold Medal Award in the photography/graphics category. Military Review, the official journal of the U.S. Army, placed it on its recommended reading list. THE HAMMER AND THE ANVIL, also drawn by Wayne Vansant, is a critically-acclaimed dual biography of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln.

Zimmerman's young adult biography, TECUMSEH: Shooting Star of the Shawnee, received the 2010 Bronze Medal Award: Young Adult Non-Fiction from the Military Writers Society of America.

Zimmerman is the co-author, with John D. Gresham, of the critically acclaimed history of seven pivotal special operations from the Vietnam War to present day, BEYOND HELL AND BACK.

Zimmerman has written numerous articles on military subjects for Faircount Media and other publishers. His article, "Maritime Mobility," for The Shield of Freedom, an annual publication about the Coast Guard, was selected by the Naval War College for use in its curriculum. And his article about a special operations mission during the Korean War led by the theater's surgeon general that had high-stakes diplomatic consequences, originally published in The Year in Special Operations 2009 was selected for re-publication by the Journal of Special Operations Medicine.

Zimmerman has been a guest lecturer at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the Naval War College.

He was a producer for the independent film, Trooper, which received the Bronze Remi Award at the 2010 Houston International Film Festival.

Zimmerman was the host of the Veterans Radio program "At Ease" which interviewed historians about their latest books. Guests included bestselling authors Rick Atkinson, Robert Edsel, Larry Bond, Thomas Fleming, amongst others.

Zimmerman was the researcher for THE NEW YORK TIMES COMPLETE HISTORY OF THE CIVIL WAR, edited by Craig L. Symonds and Harold Holzer with a forward by former president Bill Clinton, and THE NEW YORK TIMES COMPLETE WORLD WAR II edited by Richard Overy with a forward by Tom Brokaw.

Zimmerman began his career in publishing at Marvel Comics, where he held a variety of editorial positions. Among his Marvel comic book writing credits are stories for Spider-Man, The X-Men, and The Hulk, and other superheroes. In 1992, Zimmerman became executive editor of Topps Comics and was responsible for the editorial and art direction of its lines of media tie-in comics including series based on The X-Files, Mars Attacks, Jurassic Park, Zorro, Xena: Warrior Princess and other titles. In addition, Zimmerman was the writer, editor, and art director of Princess Diana the graphic novel biography of Diana, Princess of Wales published by Topps.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By John P. Addy on December 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very good read
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6 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Good_Authors_Are_Retired on May 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The book is a collection of detailed special operations stories from the Vietnam war to the last invasion of Iraq. Most of the stories are complemented by detailed pictures of mission plans and military hardware.

However, the book provides claims that US special forces organized, advised and run operations together with PKK in northern Iraq, PKK is classified as a terrorist organization by the US State Department. Therefore, if the details in the book (listed below) are true, the book is a groundbreaking revelation of the sins of the US military/state establishment. If they are not, then one suspects the validity of other details in the book.

I have no way to prove or disprove the following claims, but you can verify their presence by the Amazon's search inside function:

Link to joint US operations with terrorists:
page 225: "10th Special Forces Group teams working with peshmerga militia soldiers from the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK in the Kurdish north..."

Link to US support of terrorists:
Page 252: "For years since Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the 10th Special Forces Group had been discreetly working with the PKK ..."

Link to US advising terrorists:
Page 253: "...commander of Joint Special Operations Task Force-North (JSOTF-N). Originally, JSOTF-N's mission was to act as advisers to the PKK, which would have formed a vanguard for the 4th MID on their drive south. ..."

Link to US matchmaking between terrorists and their rivals for operational security:
Page 264: "The KDP was a rival to the PKK, and the two political groups' jockeying for power in the Kurdish-controlled territory was an element that complicated American operations in the Kurdish controlled territory...".
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