Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Weiss and Maurer (coauthor, Lions of Kandahar: The Story of a Fight Against All Odds)--who in the past five years has embedded six times with the U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan--detail the team's ill-fated 2008 mission in eastern Afghanistan's Shok Valley, a place "isolated and surrounded by a wall of mountains." The soldiers had been tasked to capture Haji Ghafour, a high-ranking commander of an extreme militant group. Through interviews with the men involved, the authors provide captivating individual perspectives on the undertaking. Captain Kyle Walton believed the assignment was flawed from the beginning; the authors write that "Not only did the basic tactical plan of attacking up a mountain not work, but it was unclear how they would evacuate casualties." Staff Sergeant John Wayne Walding--who had joined the army just months before 9/11 for "a job where you can ‘lay down your head at night and be proud of it'"--would ultimately lose part of his leg. It was his first and last deployment with Special Forces. Like many of the men in his unit (also profiled in the book) Walding would be honored with a Silver Star. In this compelling, multi-dimensional account, Weiss and Maurer remind us of the extraordinary risks soldiers take and the sacrifices they make every day both for their country, and for each other. B&W Photos & maps. (Mar.)
Take a post-9/11 version of Black Hawk Down, put it in the hands of two gifted writers like Mitch Weiss and Kevin Maurer and here’s what you get: an adrenaline-fueled narrative that will forever enhance your appreciation of U.S. Special Forces. What’s it like to fight an ill-conceived mission against well-trained insurgents who command the high ground? What’s it like to lower colleagues with life-threatening bullet wounds down an Afghan cliff? With meticulous reporting and powerful writing, Weiss and Maurer put us there. It’s a must-read for anyone who wants to know how modern battles are fought – and how they should be.
(Ames Alexander, award-winning investigative reporter with the Charlotte Observer)
It was simultaneously fascinating and disturbing, and an adrenaline rush to hear it first-hand from the operator's perspective... They are fiercely loyal to each other and our nation, and offer the enemy no quarter when the bullets start flying. You have captured all these with your words. Combat vets will read it and "get it" right away. Americans who have no connection with such men of valor ought to read it to understand what intense combat can be like.
(Maj. Gen. Michael Repass, commander of Special Operations Command Europe)
About the Author
Mitch Weiss is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist for the Associated Press. In 2003, he was assigned to an investigative series that uncovered the longest string of atrocities carried out by a U.S. fighting unit in the Vietnam War. In recognition of the series "Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths," which led to an investigation by the Pentagon, he was awarded the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. Weiss currently works for the AP on investigative projects, and an investigative series he wrote about corrupt real estate appraisers won several national awards in 2009. He also was part of a team of AP reporters that won a George Polk award in 2010 for their coverage of the BP oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
Kevin Maurer has covered special operations forces for eight years. He has been embedded with the U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan six times in the last five years and spent ten weeks with a team of Green Berets in Afghanistan in 2010. He has embedded with American soldiers in Iraq, east Africa and Haiti. The author of four books, he co-wrote a memoir of a Korean War veteran and a book about the 2006 Battle of Sperwan Ghar.