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No Way Out: A Story of Valor in the Mountains of Afghanistan 1st Edition

167 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0425245262
ISBN-10: 0425245268
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Editorial Reviews


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.) — Publishers Weekly

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley; 1 edition (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425245268
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425245262
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (167 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By The Lazy Book Reviewer on March 28, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was a bit unsure upon opening this book and seeing over 90 chapters listed for a book with a little over 330 pages. Any doubt was quickly pushed aside by the fast paced narrative. The mechanics of the book gives such a sense of the choas of battle the author is trying to convey. Upon finishing this book I have even greater respect for those who put others before themselves.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By behrmn on March 12, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
To read the second by second account of things I already knew brought the truth of thier battle into reveting reality. Parents of our soldiers need to know the noble behavior of our sons and daughters is not lost. Even when dicisions are made the soldier will obey his last. I am proud to know these soldiers and I thank God everyday that it was them who brought our sons out alive. The fact that they got out at all is amazing. Thank you ODA 3336.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Tom Abraham on April 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A well written description of the war in Afghanistan. This war is unlike any prior war in history. Combatants are exposed to more high-tech killing and maiming weaponry than ever before. We have no draft, an all-volunteer army. Our Congress has reduced the size of the military and has cut military spending. These things combine to make this a difficult war to survive. Combatants are serving multiple tours, they are exposed to traumatic events, and this book tells the reader what it's like. This book adds the political aspect to war. Leaders don't always make the right decisions. Subordinates often know better than their leaders. A good leader listens to his subordinates and should never put his men in an unwinnable situation. But it happens, and it happens in this book. And it probably happens too often. There are consequences to bad leadership, and this book shows the reader just that. War is different today than it has ever been. Every American should read this book to learn what it means to wage war in the modern era. Our soldiers are very patriotic and very brave. They serve to keep us free. We owe it to them to understand what they go through in serving us. They deserve more from our government than they get.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By T "Doc" on January 1, 2013
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Great book about a doomed from the start mission. Telling the story as it should be told.
Anybody with a brain could see how messed up this mission was. Sounds like a arm chair staff in the rear doing failed planning based on sole source unverified intel. Big fail!
Excellent read, and couldn't put the book down. A must read for anyone who reads about military history. Classic story of how NOT to launch a mission.
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25 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Gold Star Mother on March 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have no natural inclination to read military books, but started doing so after my son was killed in combat so that I would have a better understanding of his life as a soldier. I read "No Way Out" because I know some of the soldiers who were in the Shok Valley battle. I haven't asked them if they've read the book so I can't review it on its accuracy, but the little I heard from them about the battle is consistent with what's in the book.

I like the book overall. It's fast paced and there's a good balance between telling the story of the battle, the background surrounding it, and the personalities of the soldiers. It's a little disorienting to constantly go from one soldier to another in such short chapters, but that also probably helps convey some sense of the chaos and the speed at which events unfolded. Having read sworn eyewitness statements of a different battle, I appreciate how each soldier has his own vantage point in the battle and his own piece of the puzzle. Eyewitness statements can even contradict each other at times, and it is difficult to weave together a coherent and consistent account of such a complex battle. The authors of "No Way Out" do a good job of bringing things together.

Just for the sake of comparison, the last book of this genre that I read was "Lone Survivor," allegedly by Marcus Luttrell. That was such a braggadocio bunch of BS that I could barely get past the first few pages. I wanted to throw up reading the account of how he met with the families of his fallen comrades. I've been through that, and it doesn't happen the way described in "Lone Survivor." I felt I couldn't trust anything that was written in the rest of the book. "No Way Out," on the other hand, didn't strike a wrong tone at all and I felt it was trustworthy.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Carolyn Hall on January 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was hard reading this book--particularly the battle scenes near the end. Every commanding officer in the military should have this as required reading!

No one should have to go in to a battle without a chance of succeeding. And mistakes should not be covered up. It would be interesting to know if joint chiefs of military know what really happened here.
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Bill Welte on June 13, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I think the title should have been "No way out: A story of poor planning and results in Afghanistan". The heart of it tells of how the decision making ability of special forces teams was wrested from their control and forced to follow orders from "superiors" caused many deaths and injuries of those with feet on the ground. It takes a special kind of bravery to go against your training and better judgement to follow orders that sound like suicide from those who are far from the action. Not one of the better books I've read on the subject.
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