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

( 15 )

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

Some have called him "Lawrence of Afghanistan." To the Pashtun tribesmen he is "Commander Jim," leader of the "bearded ones." He is Army Special Forces Major Jim Gant, one of the most charismatic and controversial U.S. commanders of modern memory, a man who changed the face of ...

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American Spartan

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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

Some have called him "Lawrence of Afghanistan." To the Pashtun tribesmen he is "Commander Jim," leader of the "bearded ones." He is Army Special Forces Major Jim Gant, one of the most charismatic and controversial U.S. commanders of modern memory, a man who changed the face of America's war in Afghanistan when his critical white paper, "One Tribe at a Time," went viral at the Pentagon, the White House, and on Capitol Hill in 2009.

A decorated Green Beret who had spent years training indigenous fighters, Jim argued for embedding autonomous units with tribes across Afghanistan: these American soldiers would live among Afghans for extended periods, not only to train and equip tribal militias, but to fight—and even die—alongside them in battle. He argued that we could earn the trust of the Afghans and transform them into a reliable ally with whom we could defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda networks. The military's top brass, including General David Petraeus, then commander of U.S. Central Command and overseeing the war in Afghanistan, and Admiral Eric Olson, head of Special Operations Command, approved the plan and gave Jim the go-ahead to embark on the mission.

As correspondent Ann Scott Tyson got to know Jim Gant the man as well as the warrior, she saw that there was a larger story to tell—about a people desperate to defend their homes, and about this intense fighter and deeply honorable man who pushed boundaries, despite his own personal demons, and risked life and career to achieve what some thought was impossible. Ann soon came to share Jim's vision that Americans and Pashtuns could fight side-by-side and create real change across the region, so she accompanied him to Afghanistan, risking her life to embed with the tribes and chronicle their experience. This remarkable story—of Jim's close relationships with village elder Noor Afzhal and his family, the fierce fighting they took straight to the enemy in the treacherous mountains of Konar Province, and Ann and Jim's deepening love for each other—is told with a keen sense of drama and immediacy.

A war story like no other, an unprecedented account of a warrior who took up the cause of villagers as if it were his own, and of a woman on the front lines of a distant war, American Spartan is an unforgettable tale—and one of the most remarkable and emotionally resonant narratives of war ever published.

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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.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062114983
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/25/2014
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 45,519
  • 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. She has written for the Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post and contributed to the Wall Street Journal. A Pulitzer Prize nominee, Tyson is a graduate of Harvard University with an honors degree in government and has studied economics and business at Columbia University. She and Jim Gant are married and live in Seattle, Washington.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 15 )
Rating Distribution

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(13)

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Sort by: Showing all of 15 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 2, 2014

    Highly Recommend This Book-Please check it out

    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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2014

    Phenomenal and vivid account describing the complexities of the

    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.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2014

    A look behind the curtain, what no military official wants mains

    A look behind the curtain, what no military official wants mainstream to know about, how they are quick to praise and pat you on the back while holding a knife with the same hand destined for your back. As I know the military, you are responsible for what your subordinated do and/or fail to do, maybe not in this case. 

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2014

    #Murica

    Buy it for freedom

    2 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 31, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent

    Amazing story of the war in Afghanistan and betrayal by commanders in the rear.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 22, 2014

    This is one of those books where you start reading it and you ca

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2014

    Sergeant Forge

    A veteran of the Covenant War. You should know me.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2014

    Spartan 079- Noir vinocacao

    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.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2014

    SPARTAN-091 ANDREW MCPO BIO UPDATED

    Name Andrew J.K age 21 ( rl 15 ) rank mcpo #091 waight 250lb hight 9'8" armor jet black and gray moljoiner gen 7 armor loadout mp-7 battle rifle combat knife binary rifle scatter shot and bolt shot AI Cortana2.0 experance the covanet wars forerunner war countless rebel upriseings apperance without armor ( usaly will only take eod helmet off ) pale skin short jet black hair smokey blue eyes has a scar runing down his jaw line frron a covanat needler shard and another above his eye from a elite breaking his viser.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2014

    This is a self serving book by a woman who along with her immatu

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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