From Publishers Weekly
Just days from retirement, Schroen, a former CIA station chief in Pakistan, was tapped to lead the effort to establish contact with the Northern Alliance in the days following 9/11; the 35-year CIA veteran commanded the first American team on the ground in Afghanistan. At the proverbial tip of the spear, the team slipped into the country and made contact with the Northern Alliance (a loose confederation of Afghan warlords that had been fighting the Taliban government and their al-Qaeda allies), secured their cooperation and set the stage for the deployment of Special Forces teams into Afghanistan. Schroen tells the story crisply and with intimate detail, taking readers on a journey that lurches from harrowing through exhilarating to frustrating—particularly in the realm of communications. "Sitting in the Panjshir Valley," the author glumly concludes, "I seemed to be shouting down a deep, dark hole" at brass thousands of miles away. Events eventually outran the policymakers, however, when a Northern Alliance general finally lost his patience and announced to his CIA contact, "I am going into Kabul regardless of what your NSC decides." Schroen delivers what he advertises: a powerful account that takes the reader inside war councils and 19th-century– style cavalry charges in the months just after 9/11. (May 31)
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Schroen had recently retired from 35 years of service with the CIA when the U.S. was attacked by terrorists on 9/11. With experience operating in Afghanistan, he was tapped to lead a team to link with the Northern Alliance to prepare for a military operation against the Taliban. Two days before the attack on the U.S., Northern Alliance leaders had been killed, supposedly on the orders of Osama bin Ladin. On September 19, the CIA team, with six members and $3 million, deployed to Afghanistan on a harrowing mission that included the order to kill bin Ladin. Schroen offers a first-person account of the intricacies of American politics and military operations in an atmosphere charged with the war on terror. He also incorporates historical background of U.S and Soviet involvement in Afghanistan and how the nation came to be in play in the war on terrorism. In an afterword, Schroen looks back on the mission--its successes and failures--from the perspective of the recent elections in Afghanistan and acknowledges the continued challenges in the region. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved