Customer Reviews: The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor
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on November 1, 2012
The Outpost is incredibly well researched. As a soldier who was there, I can say Jake Tapper tells our story well. By focusing on a particular region of Afghanistan, not just a particular unit or person, The Outpost is able to provide a better overall picture of the war in Afghanistan and what the soldiers experienced in the most remote corner of that country. The Outpost, through exhaustive interviews and research, is able to combine the thoughts and decisions of commanders, with the actions of the soldiers in the field, and round it out with the reactions of the family and friends back at home to provide a complete understanding of the war and its effects on everyone involved. I personally enjoyed reading The Outpost and learning the thoughts of many of the officers I served with, who could not be as open about their true thoughts and feelings as they could until after that fact, and also learning of the trials and challenges of the units that replaced mine, and how the war continued to unfold in the remote mountains of Afghanistan that I called home for 16 months. The Outpost, is neither pro-war nor anti-war. It is the cold hard truth documenting a flawed strategy to tame an untamable remote corner of Afghanistan, as told through the story of the many soldiers who personally served there from 2006 through 2009. The Outpost brings to the reader many stories of heroes and leaders the world needs to know about.
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on November 7, 2012
I was with 1st ID 6/4 Cav at COP Keating/OP Fritschie. Jake Tapper's book does great justice for my unit, for an amazing man--Captain Robert J. Yllescas, and for the rest of the officers who were in charge. I was very impressed with how in-depth Jake went into his coverage of our story, and with how well it was written. Like the title of the review reads, I spent a year at Keating/Fritschie, and even I was learning new details while reading the book--because Jake took his time and got the real stories. Smiles and cries, that about sums up my experience reading it. Anyone who wants to understand what true sacrifice is should read this book. Jake, thank you for telling our story to the world! I cannot thank you enough man. Thank you all, read our story, share it with your friends and family.
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on November 14, 2012
I served at Camp Keating for 15 months. Jake Tapper has done an incredible job on The Outpost. This book is well-researched, well-written, and accurate. If you want to know what our Soldiers are experiencing while fighting in Afghanistan, read this book.
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on November 1, 2012
Jake Tapper takes the reader to one of the most inhospitable places in the world during America's longest war. Nuristan/Kunar provinces of Afghanistan are located in the northeast corner of the country adjacent to Pakistan and has been the scene of some of the bloodiest fighting of the war. The book tells the story of 3 different cavalry units, all trying desperately to hold one small piece of land known as Camp Keating from its conception in 2006 to its untimely death in 2009. Countless bloody battles are chronicled in the nonfiction book, soldiers were killed others were wounded defending a small base high in the Hindu Kush that was ultimately overrun by a large group of insurgents. This book is a true testament to all those brave men who served and died there....... Want to get an unbiased depiction of the war in Afghanistan? READ THIS BOOK!
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on November 8, 2012
Having served in Afghanistan and supported the men at Keating from overhead that dark day in 2009, I simply cannot stress enough how important The Outpost is in capturing and conveying the struggles and complexities faced by our men and women serving in Afghanistan, even to this day. Jake Tapper's meticulous attention to detail and comprehensive, unbiased research conveys a story rich in history, decision making (both good and poor), detail and subtlety. He honors the memory of the men who fell at the hands of the enemy and (seemingly) as a result of the inattention from higher leadership. This book captures and highlights to the reader the decision making at the highest levels which led to the tragedy that was COP Keating, and we as informed citizens owe it to our soldiers to understand how they got where they are and how they face those challenges down on a daily basis with bravery and commitment to their fellow soldiers.

In twenty years when we all look back on the war in Afghanistan from a historical perspective, The Outpost will be an indispensable part of that history. They say that those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. If this books takes one tiny step towards ensuring we don't condemn our soldiers to a untenable outpost in an indefensivble position in an unviable part of a lost land, then it will have done more than anyone could have hoped.

Above everything else; above the politics and the military ins-and-outs. Beyond the BS and the PR and the spin of winning hearts and minds and telling a story. Jake honors the men who died at Keating, not fighting for a cause or for some ideal of building a deomcratic Afghanistan. They died for the man next to them, and Jake tells that story with compassion and honesty that should humble each and every one of us when we see one of our finest in uniform.

Read it. Learn it.
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on November 13, 2012
I am the mother of a survivor of COP Keating. I have heard many of these stories first hand, but to see them in print, in order, has opened my eyes wider to the horrors of war. Americans need to get their head back in the game and realize the sacrifices our troops make. Jake Tapper gives the opportunity for just that in this book. This is a tribute to not only the fallen but to those humble souls who came out of COP Keating forever changed.
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VINE VOICEon November 4, 2012
I must admit that I've been curious about this book for a while now, since it's hard to find good books on the war in Afghanistan. Camp Keating was a combat outpost for 3 years in the mountains of Afghanistan. And in 2009, the Taliban attempted to slaughter the Camp leading to one of the bloodiest battles there. But the book is an indepth look into the people who held that Camp against confusing and conflicting strategy in a war that most of us don't understand.

Jake Tapper, in addition to being one of the true journalists of our time, is an amazingly gifted writer. There's no attempt at spin or gloss, just the hard reality of what it's like to be lonely and isolated in a remote corner of the world. The research is top notch. In addition to understanding the fog of war, but you come away with feeling like you really know the soldiers along with their friends and family and what the war has meant for everyone. And it makes you realize how amazing our soldiers are and what they've sacrificed.

I think that The Outpost has a potential for being on of the great books on war and the combat experience, along with We Were Soldiers Once...and Young: Ia Drang - The Battle That Changed the War in Vietnam and Generation Kill. This book is highly recommended.
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on November 11, 2012
Jake was able to tell the story only because of his dedication to this project. He is offering the American people a unique opportunity of looking beyond the over-the-counter media coverage of the conflict in Afghanistan. His account is not politicized. At the same time, the story of The Outpost offers many distinct opportunities for the reader to draw his or her own conclusions in regard to objective narratives that are presented by Mr. Tapper throughout the book. As a soldier who had served at COP Keating from 2007 to 2008, I can only say that we need more detailed accounts like this one. The American people deserve to know in greater detail how their military resources are applied overseas. You will be doing a great disservice to yourself by not reading The Outpost!
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on November 8, 2012
If anyone is wondering why Afghanistan has become America's longest war - you need to read this book. The story is a microcosm of the struggling US military efforts to contain the Afghan insurgency while building up the local governments. This book also highlights the underlying flaw in US military strategy in Afghanistan - in that we're not fighting an 11 year war - we are fighting eleven 1 year wars.

The Outpost is a true chronological tale of 4 US cavalry units rotating through the most dangerous corner of Afghanistan. As one of the soldiers who served at COP Keating, I can attest to this book's authenticity and accuracy. The focus is on a remote US cavalry outpost that was supposed to be a gateway for local reconstruction efforts. Instead, intensified enemy presence and Counter Insurgency plans fell apart resulting in an epic "last stand" battle in October, 2009, which essentially closed this corner of Afghanistan to US forces forever. The book has some useful commentary from the author, but generally the narrative is told through the eyes of the common rifle-wielding soldier, the battle hardened NCO, or the matter-of-fact company-grade officer - not from the perspective of NATO commanders or national security strategists. It's evident that the author's journalistic prowess, his research and interviews, amounted to a herculean effort to make sure this story was told right.
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on November 18, 2012
How to do justice to a book full of accounts of brave young men being horrifically wounded and dying in the course of their duty - I can't! All I can say is that people need to read this book, the story of brave young American servicemen based in a deadly and highly vulnerable valley just a few miles away from the Pakistan border and surrounded by enemy forces.

The book's main focus is on the troops manning Combat Outpost Keating - named after an officer who lost his life at that location. The outpost was first established in 2006 and the author follows the various units and their men throughout their rotation of duty at the post till it's dramatic end in 2009.

At times some of the accounts of soldiers being wounded and killed by the enemy is quite confronting and graphic and you think to yourself; `God I hope the families don't read this book'. I think the author was trying to confront the reader with the reality of combat, to make us sit back and think, that really should we, as a nation, be so quick to put our young men in harm's way.

I understand that the author interviewed many of the men and the families whose stories are told here. I came away with nothing but admiration for all the soldiers involved and a sense of rising anger at those who put these men in this situation that lead to many fine young men losing their lives or being wounded, in both body and mind.

The book is well-written and easy to read and appears to be well researched with numerous footnotes to various items of interest. At times I found it hard to put the book down and the accounts of the many battles and skirmishes had me reading till late at night or early next morning.

Some of the accounts were funny, like this one; "Howard had told Keating that he wanted him to switch Able Troop's focus from strictly fighting the enemy to counterinsurgency work: more meeting with local leaders and assisting on development projects, less driving around trying to find insurgents. That wasn't so easy: `nobody told them,' Keating would quip about the enemy. `The little bastards keep shooting at us every day'."

Or this account of when Sergeant First Class Jeff Jacops was wounded one morning when a recoilless rifle round hit a wall right in front of him, blowing him backward and knocking him unconscious. He awoke with a number of injuries caused by shrapnel and also realised that he was spitting out teeth. He was stabilised by the base medic and medevac'd to a larger support base:

"At Forward Operating Base Bostick, the surgeon told Jacops he was going to put him under so he could take a good look at his wounds. Preparing for the anesthesia, he asked his patient, `What did you have for breakfast?'
'A f&*#ing rocket,' Jacops replied"

I was happy that I decided to read this book although I will confess that at times I felt saddened at the loss of so many good young men in a war that would appear was badly handled and supported by the very government that sent these men into action. I do not understand how these men were not provided the full support with all the resources that the United States military has at is disposal. This was the war that had to be won, but appears may have been lost, I hope not, for these men's sake and their families.
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