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Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda Paperback – March 7, 2006

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Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda + Roberts Ridge: A Story of Courage and Sacrifice on Takur Ghar Mountain, Afghanistan + Lions of Kandahar: The Story of a Fight Against All Odds
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade; Reprint edition (March 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425207870
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425207871
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Bookmarks Magazine

Reviewers lauded Naylor’s "meticulously reported" account (Oregonian). It includes in-person observations during the operation (Naylor was imbedded with the 101st Airborne Division troops who fought in the battle), and scores of after-the-fact interviews, many with sources who wouldn’t allow themselves to be identified. His two-year undertaking to bring those 17 days to life yields an extraordinarily detailed account of the fateful mission. While a few critics felt that some aspects of the book were unbalanced, all agreed that Naylor did a good job in portraying the drama, heroism, and blunders that defined Anaconda while raising broader issues of warfare and its ultimate purpose.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In March 2002, U.S. forces moved into the Shahikot Mountains, hoping to trap and eliminate a substantial number of Al Qaeda fighters. They were handicapped almost fatally by their own lack of numbers, substandard logistics support, the highest altitudes at which Americans had ever fought, and the frigid weather of the mountains. Victory eluded them, although considerable damage was done to the enemy; and disaster may have been averted by the actions of special operations teams drawn from Delta Force and Seal Team 6. These operatives put on a very convincing demonstration of how much of the future of warfare may lie in the hands of small bands of experts engaging the enemy by stealth, with heavy firepower on call, firepower that wasn't always available in Operation Anaconda. Prizewinning Army Times reporter Naylor has written the best full-scale history of Operation Anaconda to date. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Sean Naylor is a senior writer for the Army Times. He has covered the Afghan mujahideen's war against the Soviets, and American military operations in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Named one of the 22 "unsung" influential print reporters in Washington by American Journalism Review in May 2002, he earned the White House Correspondents' Association's prestigious Edgar A. Poe Award for his coverage of Operation Anaconda.

Customer Reviews

The book was well written, engaging, and very hard to put down.
Antonious Block
This tells a very complex and textured event's story in a narrative that can be grasped by most readers.
JP Adams
Sean Naylor should be applauded for his candid account of Operation Anaconda!
Chip Frazier

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

103 of 106 people found the following review helpful By QR6 on January 21, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Not a Good Day to Die is a must read for anyone who wants to understand what we should really be focusing on to change in our current military if we want to stay relevant in a future that will almost certainly be marked by uncertainty. I am a Reserve Officer who just returned from Iraq and I couldn't believe how many of the lessons I had highlighted in Naylor's book, were still relevant on the ground in Iraq. My son sent me a blog from an unknown author who I would love to thank because he sums up what I believe to be the seminal lesson from Not a Good Day to Die, and the key point we should focus on to improve our military in the future.

A brief discussion about the decisionmaking structure of U.S. land forces. The most remarkable examination of this topic is Sean Naylor's recent book on Operation Anaconda, an American effort in 2002 to trap and destroy a force of hundreds of al Qaeda warriors in a valley in Afghanistan. Naylor's book, Not a Good Day to Die, is far too detailed to come close to summarizing here. But two themes reappear throughout Naylor's narrative.

First, the American military has grown higher headquarters like weeds in rich soil. Meetings over Operation Anaconda, a single operation planned for three days and thought to be aimed against 200 enemy, involved absurd numbers of competing organizations -- and, therefore, competing operational styles and agendas. Here's a typical laundry list for a single meeting: "Representatives from K-Bar, the CIA, Task Force 11, CFLCC, the Coalition and Joint Civil-Military Operations Task Force, and Task Force Rakkasan had been invited." And this list is hardly a complete reflection of all the different headquarters involved in Anaconda.
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129 of 137 people found the following review helpful By A reader on March 1, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Naylor is a reporter with Army Times who has covered the military for many years. He displays an insider's understanding as to how military organizations plan and fight. This book is unique in the degree to which the author was able to get the participants to be interviewed; there are a great many details here you won't find anywhere else. He does a great job on the account of Anaconda, a large raid into a mountain stronghold in southeast Afghanistan, conducted in early 2002.

The author covers the planning for Anaconda, the infighting among different organizations, and the significant impact the Secretary of Defense's office had as the numbers of conventional forces were limited due to political considerations. Special operators, generals, infantrymen, apache gunship pilots, all have their voices heard. What happens when plans fall apart and soldiers have to pick up the pieces? It's all in here.

This is the best account of the Army post 9/11 that has been written, and it is highly unlikely you'll find one better anytime soon. A must read. If you have any interest in the military or national security, pick this up.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Gordon Ewasiuk on March 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
The book is broken into four sections: the leadup to the operation, the first contact, the ranger battle, then conclusion. The first section is about 180 pages and is a bit of snoozer. The author explains, what appears to be, every single aspect behind every decision made prior to Anaconda. He goes into excruciating detail about the "office politics" between the various military groups. At one point, it starts sounded like a soap opera as various loyalities and internal factions are explained. It was bad enough for me to skim a few pages. It feels like the author had to fill some pages and pad the book.

One thing that stuck out was how LONG the prep work for the operation took. The book starts off "in the first weeks of January." The operation kicked off on 2 March. That seems like a long time to this untrained observer.

I did like hearing about the local Delta operator and how he planned and ran the three recce teams. He was bold and daring.

Things start picking up during the second section, "Reaction to Contact." As the first troopers hit the ground, the author reeled me in with vivid details of landscape, battles, and the troopers. The insider report of the friendly-fire incidents boiled my blood. When the author talks about the Afghan trucks driving across the mountainside in the dark and WITHOUT lights, I was shocked. Descriptions of the landscape are detailed. At one point, I lost track of all the different units moving around.

The third section is the climax. It deals with the battle on Takur Ghar. That was the payoff. Once I reached that section, I couldn't put the book down. When the SEAL commander sent the first helo to an LZ on TOP of the mountain, I was stunned.
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87 of 103 people found the following review helpful By F. Butler on March 17, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Not a Good Day to Die is clearly the equal to the likes of Black Hawk Down, We Were Soldiers...Once and Young, and Thunder Run. The book is simply one of the finest accounts of modern combat that has ever been written. With that being said however, it is difficult, in a short narrative, to describe all of the troubling aspects about Operation Anaconda. The book illustrates, only too clearly, the fallacy of the term "unity of command" that the services bandy about and the consequences that result when there was, in fact, no "unity of command" in Afghanistan at least where Anaconda was concerned. Not a Good Day... depicts the failure to understand, despite the marvels of modern technology, that even a subset of ground battle cannot be run from thousands of miles away by an Air Force general officer who doesn't understand what is transpiring on the battlefield, even the nature of ground combat, and who will not listen to the people on the ground who do understand what is taking place. Equally as troubling was the apparent prohibition by Rumsfeld and Franks prohibiting, in an attempt to reduce the size of the American footprint, the Army from employing the fire support needed by the infantry - a constraint not placed on Al Qaida. Troubling also was the ad-hoc nature with which the Army slapped together disparate units while attempting to achieve a certain level of manning and the desire to put an Afghan face on the battle. Also shown is that while there is clearly a role for precision guided munitions such as the JDAM they are not a replacement for integral fire support nor will close air support always be available when needed - as was the case of the AC-130 gunships which were not permitted, according to Air Force directives during Anaconda, to fly support missions in daylight.Read more ›
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