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Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of Special Forces Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan Paperback – 8 Jul 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd; paperback / softback edition (8 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847398235
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847398239
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 46,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"In the spirit of "Black Hawk Down" and "Flags of Our Fathers," Doug Stanton plunges into the heart of a single mission and returns with a stark understanding not only of what happened but what was truly at stake. Through precise reportage and hauntingly rendered battle scenes, Stanton shows that we may ignore this 'forgotten' theater only at our own peril." -- Hampton Sides, author of "Ghost Soldiers" and "Blood and Thunder" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Doug Stanton has travelled extensively as a contributing editor for the US Esquire, and other magazines. With his contacts in the Department of Defence, Pentagon, and various branches of the US military, Stanton is a subject matter expert in the areas of insurgency, counter-insurgency, and unconventional and civil wars.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 11 Aug. 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, 'Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance.'" -- Deuteronomy 31:7

Don't miss this book! It tells of extraordinary service that all Americans should honor and respect.

In the days following 9/11, the American government made the unprecedented decision to send in Special Forces and CIA paramilitary officers as the leading wedge of an effort to aid the about-to-be-decimated Northern Alliance leaders and their forces in Afghanistan. The Taliban were about to wipe out the last remaining opposition and secure a permanent safe haven for terrorists such as the notorious Osama bin Laden. Few times in American history have so few warriors made such a huge impact on a military campaign as did the men described in this book. What was accomplished is truly astonishing and mind-boggling.

Mr. Stanton sets up the book by describing a dangerous situation: hundreds of Taliban prisoners were being kept near a large stash of weapons and ammunition while being guarded by hardly any Northern Alliance and U.S. troops. The book then moves backwards in time to provide the background for how that situation happened to occur before detailing what happened next . . . and thereafter.

As bad as that situation was, the initial insertion of the U.S. forces into Afghanistan was even more hair-raising . . . starting with impossible flying conditions.

To me, the worst part of the book came at the end, where there's a list of the Special Forces soldiers who lost their lives in either Afghanistan or Iraq. A high price has been paid by these men and their families.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By SJ Green on 15 Feb. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Writing was fantastic and the story incredible, recommend this to anyone interested in military history or the military. It may become hard to process if you have no military knowledge, though the the write endeavours to simplify all of his writing for non-military users.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amazing what these chaps, both Afghan and international did. Exiting read for all who are interested in the history of this conflict.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful By James C. Townsend on 2 July 2009
Format: Paperback
This is quite a book and the men who took part in the operations are quite admirable. This will remain a book of reference for the post-9/11 offensives.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 297 reviews
55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Excitement personified 21 Jun. 2009
By Charles G. Irvine - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr Stanton has created a fascinating narrative of the exploits of the US Special Forces in what was prewar Afghanistan.
The book title refers to the fact that our US SF needed to mount horses in order to stay with the Northern Alliance tribesmen they were helping to drive out the Taliban. Many of them had never before been on a horse. Really tough duty, especially on makeshift wooden saddles. The SF people are introduced by name, and you are given their bios, leading to the reader becoming intimate with all of them. A most interesting approach to telling the story.
I highly recommend this book.
83 of 90 people found the following review helpful
a stunning account - The Charge of the 9/11 Brigade 6 May 2009
By wogan - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I was given this book by a friend, so I looked at it and immediately - sat down, started reading and finished it almost one sitting. Horse Soldiers is the impressive story of the US Special Forces team sent into Afghanistan after 9/11 to capture Mazar-I-Sharif. So the first action against terrorists of the 21st century winds up conducted on horse back, more accurately a cavalry charge much like Mosby's raiders during the Civil War. There is action, pathos and even a bit of humor as a group of Special Forces men who had only, for the most part ridden horses in summer camp ride into battle. There was so much that was captivating, I found myself stopping to read passages out loud to my husband.
If I was still teaching current history this would be on the reading list, and I know it would be well received. I will be surprised to not see this book become a movie, its tale is gripping and fascinating. The men in this story will make you proud of our service men, their bravery, courage and at the same time you will be intrigued and awed by the skill and methods of our modern military.
As one who grew up in the army and have always been near those whose hearts and souls are given to protect us - this is a stunning account that reaches the best of a story teller's writing, except this is true and will make those who read it, aware of, and thankful for the skill and bravery that is written of in this book .
66 of 78 people found the following review helpful
An epic tale brilliantly told 5 May 2009
By Joe Mielke - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Horse Soldiers will take readers from the freezing interior of a high tech Chinook helicopter flying higher than it safely can through the mountains of Afghanistan delivering soldiers to desert gun fights fought on horse back harkening America's old west. It's a modern day Odessy written with a journalist's penchant for detail and Homer's gift for telling a warrior's story.

In the end it is also the harrowing tale of how a small group of American Special Forces and the CIA working with Afghan soldiers managed to defeat the Taliban in one of the world's remotest battlefields.

It's not a book about politics. Stanton sets out to tell what happened, how it happened and who it happened to. He does this with startling attention to detail and a an objective overview of U.S. Military actions.

At one point American bombers can't seem to hit a target whether the bombs are guided by Global Positioning System coordinates or LASERs. Near the end of the book they drop a bomb on some of their own men.

But it is Stanton's ability to weave a story that brings the book alive and takes readers to places they would rather not be to hear things they would rather not hear and to see things they would rather not see and to smell things they would rather not smell.

The story is told in a narrative fashion sometimes switching between Afghan battle and a spouse battling her emotions about whether her husband will come back home. And, although this switching back and forth fills in interesting background, it's a technique more akin to screen writing than book writing. It makes it harder for readers to keep track of what's happening to whom.

There are unusual moments as when Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld actually calls and asks why the soldiers aren't making enough progress and one of Special Forces officers writes a reply that Rumsfeld reads from during a press conference describing the miserable conditions and bravery of the Afghan fighters.

Stanton writes about the complexity of flying a helicopter under extreme conditions; cold, wind and extreme altitude like this: "You had essentially flown to the dead end of a physics equation."

Stanton relied on more than 100 books, articles and web sites and an equal number of interviews in writing this well documented book. He also traveled to Afghanistan to flesh out details and to see the fort where one of the major battles took place.

The book appeals to general readers seeking a good story well told as well as to those with an interest in history and the military. It also is a testament to the effectiveness of soldier-philiosphers who can outthink their enemies and think with their allies before they start shooting.
93 of 115 people found the following review helpful
Poor research 2 July 2009
By Robert C. Kolpien - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The story of 5th Group and the Northern Alliance is outstanding, but being a 20+ year veteran of Special Forces I was greatly disappointed in the research. After reading that Roger's Rangers fought against the British in the Revolutionary War as opposed to fighting with the British against the French in the French and Indian War I was amazed at such a historical error. Claiming Special Forces committed the majority of attrocities in Vietnam is just false. The story is good, the writing mediocre, and the research horrible.
26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
The Quiet Professions 6 May 2009
By Rodger Shomo - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Doug Stanton's new book "The Horse Soldiers" is an engrossing read. Stanton not only vividly brings the reader right into the middle of the firefights and paradoxical scenes of U.S. Special Forces soldiers calling in smart bomb airstrikes from horseback, but also the tender, heart-wrenching personal stories of their wives awaiting their safe return. The success of this small group of men in Afghanistan immediately after 9/11, should be the model for future U.S. involvement in these types of actions. He gives these "Quiet Professionals" their due and rightful place as modern heroes, not only of military action and sacrifice, but as diplomats who think first and shoot only as a last resort. "The Horse Soldiers" should be issued to every Cabinet member of the Obama Administration as required reading for understanding the complexities of one the world's oldest political focal points and a blueprint on how to curtail the Taliban's reemergence in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
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