Doug Stanton, author of Horse Soldiers (ISBN 13-978-1-4165-8051-5, released in 2009), has written one other book In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and penned numerous articles for Esquire, Sports Afield, Outside, and Men’s Journal. He has been well received thus far and it is my feeling that this work will receive the same, or even better, accolades.
Horse Soldiers is a true story about our Special Forces and Green Beret embedded with CIA operatives, and other special military/paramilitary elite who were the first to descend upon Afghanistan after 9/11 in search of Osama Bin Laden and the Taliban. At this time, our forces were greeted by the local Afghani’s as liberators and friends. The inhospitable terrain and unpredictable weather conditions these soldiers endured, the death and destruction they witnessed daily, and the generosity of the local people, was for many of these top notch men a first on foreign soil. These impressions and memories form the basis for the investigative profiles depicted in Horse Soldiers.
Doug Stanton conducts personal interviews with some of the survivors, and their families back home in the states, attached to this dubious and dangerous detail. The insight and detailed perspectives these men provided in country were nothing short of astonishing. The unlikely friendships struck up between Afghani war lords, local peasants, and some of these select men during their deployment in country are heartwarming. The trust and goodwill they built in the local communities during this assignment will serve as foundation for future diplomacy that may eventually help rebuild this war-torn country, as well as, provide a certain level of confidence for the people of Afghanistan to mount their own stand in fighting the wickedness and destructive nature of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
I’ve never visited a war and only watched it from the comfort and safety of America’s television broadcasts. Therefore, I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been for these courageous people to watch their friends and comrades sustain serious injuries or be killed, or to see the daily death toll of innocents and loyal supporters in the towns and villages rise, or to come face to face with thousands of people (jihadists) who only want to “kill the infidel”. The fear they must have held inside while executing these indescribably brave and selfless maneuvers while hoping to come out alive, even against horrendous odds, can be like nothing we, here at home, can ever know. Horse Soldiers provides a poignant recount of what these men in service felt at regular intervals during this secretive assignment.
For a moving and unforgettable account of these first harrowing months in the war in Afghanistan, after 9/11, Horse Soldiers is a must read. I will forewarn you that these accounts are graphic, grotesque, and quite tragic. However, each page will reinforce your understanding of the destructive and divisive side of war, as well as, the undying bonds and commitments these men have for their fellow fighters and the people they are challenged to help or salvage from the ravages of Al Qaeda abroad.
Horse Soldiers should be heralded a written tribute to the bravery, dedication, and courage of those elite fighting men under fire. Thank you brave men for your service and unwavering commitment toward making the world a safer place for ALL people! And thank you Doug Stanton for retelling their stories!