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ROBERTS RIDGE: A Story of Courage and Sacrifice on Takur Ghar Mountain, Afghanistan Mass Market Paperback – July 25, 2006

4.5 out of 5 stars 232 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On March 2, 2002, U.S. intelligence launched Operation Anaconda; having noted a concentration of al-Qaeda and Taliban forces in the Shah-i-Kot Valley, they dispatched MAKO-30, a seven-man navy SEAL reconnaissance team, attempted a helicopter landing on Takur Ghar, the highest overlooking peak. Tasked with calling in air strikes, MAKO-30 found its landing zone to be a well-concealed al-Qaeda camp; the team's Chinook helicopter was driven off by withering ground fire. When SEAL Neil Roberts fell out of the chopper, the others insisted on going back for him. With the team pinned down by enemy fire and facing annihilation, commanders dispatched a quick reaction force of army Rangers to rescue them. Thus began a harrowing 17-hour drama every bit as perilous and courageous as the Rangers' ill-fated Battle of Mogadishu, Somalia; novelist (Deadlock) and journalist (The Black Box) MacPherson eloquently captures this gripping tale, based on interviews with many of the survivors and access to the army's after-action report. And while the battle "played no part in the success of Anaconda," and was in fact a distraction for decision makers, the army after-action report cites the troops' "conspicuous bravery" and "countless acts of heroism"—all of which MacPherson captures with aplomb. (Sept. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This is a real-life thriller with not quite the triumphant ending that fiction often provides, to be sure, but relating a great many hard-won lessons. In March 2002 a team of U.S. Navy SEALs attempted the capture of Takur Ghar, a 10,000-foot-high mountain whose seizure would give the American forces in Afghanistan a key observation post. But the mountain was defended, and when the special forces helicopter reached the peak, it was shredded by enemy fire, and Petty Officer First Class Neil Roberts was thrown from the aircraft. His fellow SEALs were determined to bring him out. This is the story of that attempt. Well told and frightening as well as true, this is a book that bridges the breach between the increasingly professional American military and a civilian culture possessing little knowledge or experience of the military. Though not the only such book, one of the best recent ones. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 369 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Dell; 1st edition (July 25, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553586807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553586800
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (232 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #227,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I read this book over a weekend and was pleasantly surprised by it. I read "Not a Good Day to Die" a couple months ago and was waiting for this book to be published so I could compare the two. Of course, "Day" goes into much more detail regarding Operation Anaconda while "Ridge" focuses on the events on a single mountaintop, but I think both were well-written.

I prefer MacPherson's writing style in that he doesn't personalize the story at all. There is no reference to "me" or "I," only the story as told to him by the people involved. I feel that adding one's own voice to a work of non-fiction just makes the writer sound like a braggart and sometimes even discredits the account.

I do think that the target audience for this book is either military-related, or just very quick, because much of the terminology is not explained, especially when it comes to the "slang" style terms and phrases that the branches use in so much of their work.

As a book focusing on the events of Takur Ghar, it was great. However, if you have no idea what Operation Anaconda was about, I would recommend reading "Day" first, because "Ridge" does not go into the set-up of the Operation at all. "Ridge" is a wonderful way to delve further into the seventeen hours of combat operations of so many service members, and the characterization is much deeper than "Day" simply because there are fewer players involved.

I highly recommend this book, but read "Not a Good Day to Die" first if you have no frame of reference for Afghanistan or Operation Anaconda.
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Format: Hardcover
Prior to Operation Anaconda, the less-than successful operation to trap and kill Al-Queda troops in the Sha-i-Kot Valley, a number of Special Operations Forces teams infiltrated the area in order to conduct reconnaissance prior to the operation and then direct close air support into the Valley to kill the terrorists. Mako 30, one of these teams, was sent to the most obvious observation point in the Valley - Takur Ghar mountain. Only problem was that the battle-hardened Al Queda terrorists, mostly Chechens, were quite aware of the military significance of Takur Ghar and made it their own before Mako 30 arrived. MacPherson makes a great argument for the pitfalls of relying on the best technology in the world - even our best "sniffers" never picked up on the terrorists on the peak. After attempting a landing and losing Neil Roberts, Mako 30 attempted to return to the same Landing Zone they had unsuccessfully tried to occupy the first time around. Mako 30's predictable defeat is followed by a Ranger Quick reaction Force that is also pinned down. Unbelievably, the Rangers landed in the exact place that Mako 30 did, losing their MH-47 in the process. A third reaction team lands, scales 2000ft on mountain, and the Rangers finally prevail over the enemy.

MacPherson has done a great job of capturing the details of the battle, but his account falls far short of "Not A Good Day To Die", a far more detailed and better-sourced account. Nonetheless, MacPherson's account captures the individual bravery and sacrifice of the U.S. soldiers on the mountain. A great compliment to "Not A Good Day To Die". A must read for any small unit commander and anyone interested in Al Queda tactics.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I really wanted to like this book as those who fought there did so with great courage and skill and made such incredible sacrifices. However, I felt the author let them down in two primary areas-a lack of background for the original insertion decision and the decisions made from afar during the fight.

I was also disappointed with the very limited indexing. There are also some critical inconsistencies in the book.

The Seals came to the area looking for a mission on very short notice. It was apparently not their decision, but from far up the food chain and thousands of miles away in a flat land. There was a failure to appreciate the need to adapt to the altitude.

Control of Takur Ghar was not seen as essential in the plan for the operation prior to the arrival of the Seals. However, the author appears to start with the premise that control was essential, but in the end accepts the view that it was not essential.

The decision imposed on the Seals to make a direct aerial assault on the position after experiencing delays, rather than delay 24 hours, was an imposition from above. One of the grave risks of the new information age is that those (both military officers and politicians) receiving satellite, UAV data and perhaps battlefield video will abandon their roles of strategic planning and information dissemination in favor of making tactical decisions without situational awareness. It's a recipe for disaster.

There's a reason that a great football coach is down on the field while the spotters and perhaps those who recommend plays are high above the stadium.

In some respects the limitations of the book are a reflection of that lack of shared information and situational awareness which plagued the fighters during the events.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an account of a group of US Navy SEALS who are ambushed on a mountain in Afghanistan and require rescue by Army Ranger rapid response team. The Rangers are subsquently ambushed requiring yet another rescue team. The story is told from the perspective of the soldiers on the ground, facing unbelievably cold weather, horrible terrain and a lot of determined enemies. Quite a few don't make it, but the story is more about the determination of these highly trained warriors to never leave a comrade behind. The action is quite detailed and the reader almost feels like he is there with the troops. Highly recommended.
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