American Spartan: The Promise, the Mission, and the Betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gant

American Spartan: The Promise, the Mission, and the Betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gant

4.5 14
by Ann Scott Tyson
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Lawrence of Arabia meets Sebastian Junger's War in this unique, incendiary, and dramatic true story of heroism and heartbreak in Afghanistan written by a Pulitzer Prize–nominated war correspondent.

Army Special Forces Major Jim Gant changed the face of America’s war effort in Afghanistan. A decorated Green Beret who spent years in

Overview

Lawrence of Arabia meets Sebastian Junger's War in this unique, incendiary, and dramatic true story of heroism and heartbreak in Afghanistan written by a Pulitzer Prize–nominated war correspondent.

Army Special Forces Major Jim Gant changed the face of America’s war effort in Afghanistan. A decorated Green Beret who spent years in Afghanistan and Iraq training indigenous fighters, Gant argued for embedding autonomous units with tribes across Afghanistan to earn the Afghans’ trust and transform them into a reliable ally with whom we could defeat the Taliban and counter al-Qaeda networks. The military's top brass, including General David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, approved, and Gant was tasked with implementing his controversial strategy.

Veteran war correspondent Ann Scott Tyson first spoke with Gant when he was awarded the Silver Star in 2007. Tyson soon came to share Gant’s vision, so she accompanied him to Afghanistan, risking her life to embed with the tribes and chronicle their experience. And then they fell in love.

Illustrated with dozens of photographs, American Spartan is their remarkable story—one of the most riveting, emotional narratives of wartime ever published.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
03/24/2014
Tyson, a journalist by trade, offers a momentous account of her now husband, Special Forces Major Jim Gant, and his journey into the deep-seated tribal Pashtuns of Afghanistan. Beginning with President Obama's promise in 2009 to end the war in Iraq and ending with Gant's removal from Afghanistan amidst accusations of the abuse of alcohol and pain medications, the book shows the efforts of one man bent on changing the way the military moves in foreign countries. After serving deployments, Gant published an online treatise on why America is destined to lose the war, arguing there is "gaping hole in U.S. Strategy: the failure to systematically engage Afghanistan's powerful Pashtun tribes." The paper comes to the attention of President Obama, General Petraeus, and other high ranking military officers who offer Jim the resources he needs to implement his plan. Jim's mission is to assimilate a team of Special Forces to work hand-in-hand with the Pashtun tribes and help to set up the Afghanistan Local Defense Initiative, the Arbakai. In the midst of implementation, Gant starts clashing with U.S. command and his career in the military begins to unravel. Tyson does her best to shade an underlying love affair while showing the action and circumstances surrounding her time with Jim Gant. The affair doesn't appear until page 79 and is never quite awarded the depth of feeling she gives to living in Afghanistan and dealing with the atrocities of war. Many readers will want more on their relationship, at least for the sake of transparency amid Tyson's journalistic style of writing. The overall story is enticing, brutal, and current. (Apr.)
Kirkus Reviews
2014-02-26
To win in Afghanistan, dedicated American soldiers must live among the tribes, earning their trust and molding them into effective fighters against Taliban and al-Qaida networks. Decorated Green Beret Jim Gant made this argument in a 2009 paper that impressed Gen. David Petraeus and other leaders, who told him to go ahead with the plan. Already an admirer, having covered Gant's heroics in Iraq, journalist Tyson recounts the subsequent three years, much of it spent in his company, as his unit moved to a remote village, befriended the chief, and proceeded to hire and train the tribesman who soon drove off the local Taliban. Neighboring chiefs began requesting help, and eventually, documents obtained from Osama bin Laden's compound after his death complained about Gant by name. "The directive mentioned Jim by name," she writes, "and said he was an impediment to Al Qaeda's operational objectives…and needed to be removed from the battlefield." Other units reported similar success, but Tyson concentrates on Gant's campaign, which produced plenty of fireworks, heroism, suffering and, this being Afghanistan, constant frustration. Even as Gant set to work, the American government was announcing its intention to withdraw from the country. By 2012, the process was well under way, but by this time, Gant's superiors, irritated by his independence and nonconformity, relieved him, denounced his tactics and forced him to retire. Tyson presents a damning picture of betrayal by commanding officers whose rigidity and lack of imagination was aggravated by personal dislike. Readers will find her arguments impressive, although they will be surprised by the frank admission that she and Gant fell in love. Tyson can expect an avalanche of criticism for flouting a dozen precepts of journalism, and Gant has been accused of an unrealistically romantic view of Afghan tribalism. Still, readers will encounter one of the only satisfying products of a dismally unsatisfying war: this entertaining book.
Tom Ricks
“An astonishing new account . . . This book will be read a lot longer than most books about the American war in Afghanistan. It especially will resonate with people interested in Special Forces… We need people like Gant to do real foreign internal defense.”
Dr. Kalev I. Sepp
“In the half-century since Robin Moore’s The Green Berets, no other account of Special Forces at war could match its range and depth and candor-until now. American Spartan will enlighten and disturb readers with its searing honesty...”
Washington Post
“The Catch-22 of the Afghanistan War, a mixture of romanticism, fantasy and hard-core dedication. . . . Read this book to savor the rich, candid details of love between a man and a woman, between Afghan and American comrades in battle, and between two cultures.”
Chicago Tribune
“Masterfully written and moving . . . [American Spartan] is a must read and will stand the test of time.”
Christian Science Monitor
“Tyson raises a host of serious questions about the nature of war, the many aspects of loyalty, and the price paid by America’s front-line fighters.”
Steven Pressfield
“Former Washington Post reporter Ann Scott Tyson tells this story not from a news bureau desk, but from the tribal front lines, where she lived it side-by-side with Gant. . . . If you read only one book this year about war or politics, read American Spartan.”
General David H. Petraeus (US Army
American Spartan is a riveting, powerful account of the service of Major Jim Gant, a man seen by many of us as the “perfect counterinsurgent” . . . Ann Scott Tyson had a ring-side seat . . . and takes us there in this extraordinary, gripping book.”
Dalton Fury
“This story captivated me like no other I’ve read on combat action in Afghanistan. I don’t condone Jim Gant’s every decision or the way he did things, but I do respect the hell out of what he did as a warrior.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062114983
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/25/2014
Pages:
384
Sales rank:
597,036
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Ann Scott Tyson is a war correspondent with a decade of combat experience, beginning with the invasion of Iraq. A Pulitzer Prize nominee, she has written for the Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post and contributed to the Wall Street Journal. She and Jim Gant are married and live in Seattle, Washington.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

American Spartan: The Promise, the Mission, and the Betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gant 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
chalkdust423 More than 1 year ago
This is a true story the United States Army does not want anyone to know about. Major Jim Gant, a Silver Star, Purple Heart and Special Forces officer wrote a piece for the military titled "One Tribe at a Time." The Army thought enough of his proposal that he was assigned to Afghanistan for almost two years. He and his team had amazing success in training local tribes to defend their villages and to fight the Taliban. He and the US soldiers who served with him dressed like Afghans, ate with the Afghans, learned to speak the language of the tribe they were imbedded with. They were "adopted" by Afghan families. One young West Point Lieutenant decided that Major Gant wasn't following Army procedure and caused a firestorm of trouble for an APPROVED mission in Afghanistan. Many tribal leaders even held a meeting trying to defend Major Gant asking that he stay and help them. Major Gant was not a perfect individual, nor is anyone. He did not deserve what happened to him. This is the one book you must read if you read no other military history book this year.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Phenomenal and vivid account describing the complexities of the war in Afghanistan. Branching off into theoretical military strategies, strategic application, integration with honorable Afghan forces, and an intimate love story. Ann Scott Tyson has succeeded in thoroughly attending to each 'branch'', providing the reader with a rare, invaluable non-fiction chronicle.
efm More than 1 year ago
Amazing story of the war in Afghanistan and betrayal by commanders in the rear.
johniew398 More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books where you start reading it and you can't stop reading it. Exciting, educational, and sometimes sad. I wonder what happened to Lt. Roberts. He's one of those Lt.'s that during the Vietnam war would get fragged by his own men.
taospainter More than 1 year ago
The author is obviously biased towards the protagonist (her husband) but this book gives great insight into why we are losing our presence in the Mid-East and why our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were such disasters. Will we ever learn?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a self serving book by a woman who along with her immature boyfriend actively tanked a vital mission by acting like giddy teenagers putting their libidos ahead of the mission and the men Gant led. There was a betrayal, but it was Gant not the Army who committed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Buy it for freedom
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A veteran of the Covenant War. You should know me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Age: 16/ height: 5'4"/ weight: 90 pounds/ appearance with armor: jet black mjolnir armor. Traditional except for the fact that it is slimmer and smaller./ appearance without armor, not many know as she never seems to take it off./ preffered loadout: DMR, energy sword, frag grenades and throwing/combat knives.