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The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green Berets Forged a New Afghanistan Hardcover – January 19, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 98 customer reviews

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--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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From the Back Cover

On a moonless night just weeks after September 11, 2001, a U.S. Special Forces team of Green Berets known as ODA 574 infiltrated the mountains of southern Afghanistan with a seemingly impossible mission: to foment a tribal revolt and force the Taliban to surrender. Armed solely with the equipment they could carry on their backs, shockingly scant intelligence, and their mastery of guerrilla warfare, Captain Jason Amerine and his ten men had no choice but to trust their only ally, a little-known Pashtun statesman named Hamid Karzai. Having returned from exile, Karzai—on the run from the Taliban—was traveling the countryside to raise a militia.

The Only Thing Worth Dying For chronicles the most important mission in the early days of the Global War on Terror, when the men on the ground knew little about the enemy—and their commanders in Washington knew even less. With unprecedented access to surviving members of ODA 574, key war planners, and Karzai himself, award-winning author Eric Blehm cuts through the noise of politicians and high-level military officials to narrate for the first time a story of uncommon bravery and terrible sacrifice, intimately exposing the realities of unconventional warfare and nation-building in Afghanistan that continue to shape the region today.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.


“The Only Thing Worth Dying For is not only brilliant, it’s the one book you must read if you have any hope of understanding what our fine American soldiers are up against in Afghanistan.” (Former Congressman Charlie Wilson)

“A skillfully reported and masterfully written account of one of the most crucial moments of the War Against Terror. Blehm reminds us of the perils, the triumphs and the sacrifices made in the name of freedom.” (Bob Woodruff, ABC News correspondent)

“Through careful reporting and crisp narrative pacing, Eric Blehm has given us a thrilling, forgotten drama from the opening chapter of the war in Afghanistan. The Only Thing Worth Dying For will become an enduring classic of this extraordinary theater, where so much hangs in the balance.” (Hampton Sides, bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers and Blood and Thunder)

“Blehm provides powerful and unflinching insight into a real-life mission that ended in tragedy but left an indelible mark on history. From the comic moments to the bleakest hour, it’s a testament to how a small team of well-trained men can shape a nation’s destiny.” (Stephen Grey, award-winning author of Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA's Torture Program and Operation Snakebite: The Story of an Afghan Desert Siege)

“Eric Blehm has written a literary masterpiece about modern war. The whole witches’ brew is here: valor, honor, heroism, cowardice, incompetence, stupidity, triumph, blood, death and despair. That America has soldiers like these should fill every American heart with pride. Read this book!” (Stephen Coonts, bestselling author of Flight of the Intruder and The Disciple)

“No other book has gone to such depths in research, nor been so descriptive in recounting this critical mission during the earliest days after 9/11 when the US Army Special Forces successfully waged unconventional warfare in Afghanistan.” (Sergeant Major Billy Waugh, author of Hunting The Jackal and Isaac Camacho, An American Hero)

“The greatest story of a small unit’s battle through an untamed land since Lawrence of Arabia.” (Adam Makos, editor of Valor Magazine)

“A captivating account of our heroic warriors-a remarkable U.S. Army Special Forces unit’s hard-fought success against incredible odds. It reads with the thrill of fiction-but this is the damned deadly real deal.” (W.E.B. Griffin & William E. Butterworth IV, best-selling authors of The Traffickers and The Honor of Spies) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 375 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins; 1 edition (January 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061661228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061661228
  • ASIN: B0055X5S0E
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #303,322 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The vast majority of the reviews have rated this 5 stars. I would rate it higher if possible. The author, Eric Blehm has done an excellent job explaining the life of a SF team and what they can be assigned to accomplish. As indicated by the book the team was given a job in a new environment following 9-11 and as usual for SOG given very little specifics. They were making some of it up as they went along and by all accounts doing the job and accomplishing their assigned goal. Their problems started when the REMF's arrived from HQ to only "observe" the operation. Never in my lifetime have I ever experienced an observer who out ranked the troops on the ground "strictly observe". There is some defect within these "observers" brain that malfunctions when they arrive onsite. In this case the observers were an 0-5 and a 0-4 watching over the shoulder of a 0-3. The 0-3 was a team leader and was qualified for the position or he would not have been there. We have all seen it before the REMF's wrangle a way to get to the action so they can get a notation in their 201 file that says "he was there" and maybe pick up a medal. In this case their involvement was to interfere by directing the team leader to follow their orders and then they involved themselves into an unnecessary airstrike that took the lives of over 50 friendlies and crippled most of the survivors. Their obvious desire to earn battle stories for the "O Club" cost these men their lives. If these observers had of admitted their "war" had past them by and stayed in the rear where they belonged those who died might still be with us today. Both Officers should have faced a court martial. Excellent book but rotten result. It is a must read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My respect, admiration and thanks to Capt. (now Lt. Col.?) Jason Amerine and the men from ODA 574. Too bad that ODA 574 had road blocks put in their way by those that should have helped. God bless those that lost their lives, those wounded, and for the rest of the fighting men and women both in the field and those behind the scenes.
I also have a better understanding and respect for Hamid Karzai. By reading this book, someone that is not familiar with the military and with Karzai will get a better understanding of both. As a Vietnam Army Infantry "grunt", much of the book reinforces my views of the military and how the "upper brass" acts. This book should be a must read for military officers so mistakes are not repeated. The officers could learn a lot, I hope.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is a lots of press about loud-mouthed heroes who supposedly did this and that. Most of them did nothing more than light Infantry direct action missions, which are heroic in their own way. Even the "elite" SEAL mission to kill Bin Laden was rather easy, except for the flying by the Army pilots. The SEALS faced very limited resistance and cleared the area in a short amount of time. Most of these "special operators" only stay in combat zones for a few hours, days, weeks or months. Then they are back aboard ships taking showers and eating hot meals.

On the other hand, the eleven soldiers in this book are the real thing. Unlike other alleged "special operators," these soldiers were trained to operate in austere and dangerous environments deep inside enemy territory with little direct support for many months or years. These eleven soldiers demonstrated sociopolitical skills, statecraft, and special operations combat expertise. SEALS and other so-called special operations units have been trying to be like Army Special Forces for many years. This book shows they are not the same, and never will be. Army Special Forces has a unique mission, and unique capabilities, which it carried out superbly in Afghanistan. Had the State Department bureaucrats and bickering, power-seeking Admirals and politicians left Special Forces and the CIA in charge, Al Qaeda and the Taliban would have been wiped out early on. Instead, every service wanted a piece of the glory, with the State Department idiots in charge. Great book! De Oppresso Liber!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I just finished reading this book on my Kindle and was amazed at not only the story, but how well it was written. Very detailed with a lot of background on the characters. This book definitely covers the primary mission of the Army's Green Berets, which is Unconventional Warfare. These are some of the most talented operators on the planet and it shows in how well they handle things... until politics and power hungry officers get in their way and fubar the entire mission. It's a tragic story of how even the best laid plans can go wrong when the wrong people force themselves into a situation where they don't need to be. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in history as well as our nations Special Forces.
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Historic book details how the Taliban was defeated in a very short time immediately after 9/11 by local Militias directed and assisted by very competent USA Green Berets. Unfortunately, a few upper level officers who should have stayed at their desks pushed their way in at the last minute and through incompetence and arrogance caused almost 100 needless deaths and serious injuries to our troops and our allies. They should have been kicked out of the military, but as usually happens they were given medals and promotions instead.
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