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Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan Hardcover – May 5, 2009


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Featured Author: Doug Stanton
Read an excerpt from Doug Stanton's Horse Soldiers [PDF].

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (May 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416580514
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416580515
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (260 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #144,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this absolutely riveting account, full of horror and raw courage, journalist Stanton (In Harm's Way) recreates the miseries and triumphs of specially trained mounted U.S. soldiers, deployed in the war-ravaged Afghanistan mountains to fight alongside the Northern Alliance-thousands of rag-tag Afghans who fought themselves to exhaustion or death-against the Taliban. The U.S. contingent, almost to a man, had never ridden horses-especially not these "shaggy and thin-legged, and short... descendents of the beasts Genghis Khan had ridden out of Uzbekistan"-but that was not the only obstacle: rattling helicopters, outdated maps, questionable air support and insufficient food also played their parts. Stanton brings each soldier and situation to vivid life: "Bennett suddenly belted out: 'It just keeps getting better and better!' Here they were, living on fried sheep and filtered ditchwater...calling in ops-guided bombs on bunkers built of mud and wood scrap, surrounded by Taliban fighters." In less than three months, this handful of troops secured a city in which a fort had been taken over by Taliban prisoners, a tangle of firefights and mayhem that became a seminal battle and, in Stanton's prose, a considerable epic: "Dead and dying men and wounded horses had littered the courtyard, a twitching choir that brayed and moaned in the rough, knee-high grass."

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

"Spellbinding...action packed prose. [Stanton's] gritty narrative is thoroughly researched and the details of military operations jarringly precise...The book reads more like a novel than a military history...the Horse Soldier's secret mission remains the U.S. military's finest moment in what has since arguably been a muddled war." -- USA Today

"Stanton packs a huge amount of research into a thrilling action-ride of a book... deserves a hallowed place in American military history...." -- Bruce Barcott, cover of The New York Times Book Review

"Horse Soldiers reads like a cross between an old-fashioned Western and a modern spy thriller." -- Parade Magazine

"Stanton has captured the inner workings of... Special Forces operations. A thorough recounting of the events told from the soldiers' point of view." -- Veritas, Journal of Special Operations History

More About the Author

Doug Stanton lives in his hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, and has worked as a creative writing and English teacher at the undergraduate and graduate college level, and at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan as writer-in-residence. He has also worked as a commercial fisherman, and caretaker of Robert Frost's house in Vermont. He has traveled extensively as a contributing editor (under yearly contract) for Esquire, Men's Journal and Outside magazines, writing travel, adventure, and political pieces, as well as cover stories about Hollywood figures like Harrison Ford, George Clooney, and Clint Eastwood. He is a founder of the high-profile Traverse City Film Festival, an annual celebration of cinema. With his contacts in the Department of Defense, Pentagon, and various branches of the U.S. military, Stanton is a subject matter expert in the areas of insurgency, counter-insurgency, and unconventional and civil wars.

Stanton graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy as a creative writing and theater student, and from Hampshire College in Massachusetts with a B.A.; and he received an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.

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Customer Reviews

Excellent book - well written, easy read, riveting.
dummy
The book's pace is breathless and the author did a great job in writing the story in a way that makes the reader feel a part of each battle.
Sylvia Wadlington
I also thank the men of the special forces in this book for your service!
Gerard F. Zemek

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Charles G. Irvine on June 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr Stanton has created a fascinating narrative of the exploits of the US Special Forces in what was prewar Afghanistan.
The book title refers to the fact that our US SF needed to mount horses in order to stay with the Northern Alliance tribesmen they were helping to drive out the Taliban. Many of them had never before been on a horse. Really tough duty, especially on makeshift wooden saddles. The SF people are introduced by name, and you are given their bios, leading to the reader becoming intimate with all of them. A most interesting approach to telling the story.
I highly recommend this book.
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79 of 86 people found the following review helpful By wogan TOP 100 REVIEWER on May 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was given this book by a friend, so I looked at it and immediately - sat down, started reading and finished it almost one sitting. Horse Soldiers is the impressive story of the US Special Forces team sent into Afghanistan after 9/11 to capture Mazar-I-Sharif. So the first action against terrorists of the 21st century winds up conducted on horse back, more accurately a cavalry charge much like Mosby's raiders during the Civil War. There is action, pathos and even a bit of humor as a group of Special Forces men who had only, for the most part ridden horses in summer camp ride into battle. There was so much that was captivating, I found myself stopping to read passages out loud to my husband.
If I was still teaching current history this would be on the reading list, and I know it would be well received. I will be surprised to not see this book become a movie, its tale is gripping and fascinating. The men in this story will make you proud of our service men, their bravery, courage and at the same time you will be intrigued and awed by the skill and methods of our modern military.
As one who grew up in the army and have always been near those whose hearts and souls are given to protect us - this is a stunning account that reaches the best of a story teller's writing, except this is true and will make those who read it, aware of, and thankful for the skill and bravery that is written of in this book .
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65 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Joe Mielke on May 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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.
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91 of 113 people found the following review helpful By Robert C. Kolpien on July 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The story of 5th Group and the Northern Alliance is outstanding, but being a 20+ year veteran of Special Forces I was greatly disappointed in the research. After reading that Roger's Rangers fought against the British in the Revolutionary War as opposed to fighting with the British against the French in the French and Indian War I was amazed at such a historical error. Claiming Special Forces committed the majority of attrocities in Vietnam is just false. The story is good, the writing mediocre, and the research horrible.
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Rodger Shomo on May 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Doug Stanton's new book "The Horse Soldiers" is an engrossing read. Stanton not only vividly brings the reader right into the middle of the firefights and paradoxical scenes of U.S. Special Forces soldiers calling in smart bomb airstrikes from horseback, but also the tender, heart-wrenching personal stories of their wives awaiting their safe return. The success of this small group of men in Afghanistan immediately after 9/11, should be the model for future U.S. involvement in these types of actions. He gives these "Quiet Professionals" their due and rightful place as modern heroes, not only of military action and sacrifice, but as diplomats who think first and shoot only as a last resort. "The Horse Soldiers" should be issued to every Cabinet member of the Obama Administration as required reading for understanding the complexities of one the world's oldest political focal points and a blueprint on how to curtail the Taliban's reemergence in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
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