The Only Thing Worth Dying For

The Only Thing Worth Dying For

4.4 204
by Eric Blehm

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Eric Blehm, author of the award-winning The Last Season, is back with another true adventure story, The Only Thing Worth Dying For. Set in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, The Only Thing Worth Dying For chronicles the untold story of the team of Green Berets led by Captain Jason Amerine that conquered the Taliban and helped bring Hamid


Eric Blehm, author of the award-winning The Last Season, is back with another true adventure story, The Only Thing Worth Dying For. Set in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, The Only Thing Worth Dying For chronicles the untold story of the team of Green Berets led by Captain Jason Amerine that conquered the Taliban and helped bring Hamid Karzai to power in Afghanistan. In the tradition of Black Hawk Down, The Only Thing Worth Dying For is, in the words of former Congressman Charlie Wilson (from Charlie Wilson's War), "the one book you must read if you have any hope of understanding what our fine American soldiers are up against in Afghanistan."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The early, relatively heroic days of the conflict in Afghanistan are memorialized in this engrossing if glamorized war saga. Blehm (The Last Season, a B&N Discover Award winner) follows the exploits of Capt. Jason Amerine’s Special Forces team Alpha 574, which choppered into Afghanistan in November 2001 to help future Afghan president Hamid Karzai organize anti-Taliban insurgents in the south. The team’s mission—to turn chaotic and perpetually stoned Pashtun tribesmen into effective soldiers—seems impossible and, ultimately, proved unnecessary. Indeed, according to Blehm’s account, the Green Berets’ worst enemies were other Americans: meddling CIA honchos and army brass, a do-nothing Marine officer, and the air force spotter who mistakenly called in an air strike on 574’s position, with ghastly results. The author overplays the comradely bond between Karzai and Amerine, who come off as a latter-day Washington and Lafayette, but doesn’t quite succeed in wringing a military epic out of what was essentially a turkey shoot. Still, Blehm’s warts-and-all account of the U.S. military machine in action is full of tension, color, and real pathos. 16 pages of b&w photos. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
Another stirring account of American Special Forces heroics. After 9/11, America could not rush a conventional army into Afghanistan to wreak vengeance on al-Qaeda, so it sent elite Special Forces teams. In Horse Soldiers (2009), Doug Stanton chronicled the soldiers who assisted Northern Alliance forces in crushing the Taliban. Blehm (The Last Season, 2006) recounts Green Beret exploits in southern Afghanistan where no organized anti-Taliban opposition existed. Worse, the population was Pashtun, the majority tribe that refused to accept a government dominated by the non-Pashtun Northern Alliance. With no alternative, American leaders decided to support Hamid Karzai (Afghanistan's president today), at the time an obscure Pashtun who had returned from exile to gather support. Blehm delivers biographies of team members and their leaders as well as the nuts-and-bolts preparation for the mission. In November 2001, helicopters dropped the team inside Taliban-controlled southern Afghanistan where it joined Karzai and his few supporters. Within a month this small band had assembled a guerilla army that fought its way to Kandahar, the Taliban capital in the south, and forced its surrender-though the mission was marred by a gruesome friendly-fire incident that killed and crippled many team members. The author provides a minute-by-minute account of this dramatic campaign, and the page never flags. Some readers, however, may wince at the author's narrative style, which features dialogue and inner thoughts as recounted to the author by the soldiers involved. Blehm extols these men's laudable courage and sacrifice, but he ignores larger issues, including the sad fact that America squandered thisvictory and the Taliban have returned to dominate southern Afghanistan. Lowbrow history, but a gripping story of admirable men. Agent: Christy Fletcher/Fletcher & Company

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HarperCollins Publishers
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What People are saying about this

The Only Thing Worth Dying For is not only brilliant, it's the one book you must read if you have any hope of understanding what our fine American soldiers are up against in Afghanistan. --Former Congressman Charlie Wilson, of Charlie Wilson's War

Through careful reporting and crisp narrative pacing, Eric Blehm has given us a thrilling, forgotten drama from the opening chapter of the war in Afghanistan. The Only Thing Worth Dying For will become an enduring classic of this extraordinary theater, where so much hangs in the balance. --Hampton Sides, bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers and Blood and Thunder

Eric Blehm has written a literary masterpiece about modern war. The whole witches' brew is here: valor, honor, heroism, cowardice, incompetence, stupidity, triumph, blood, death and despair. That America has soldiers like these should fill every American heart with pride. Read this book! --Stephen Coonts, bestselling author of Flight of the Intruder and The Disciple

The work of elite Special Forces is the subject of endless commentary, usually by those who know nothing about it. Blehm provides powerful and unflinching insight into a real-life mission that ended in tragedy but left an indelible mark on history. From the comic moments to the bleakest hour, it's a testament to how a small team of well-trained men can shape a nation's destiny. --Stephen Grey, award-winning author of Ghost Plane: The True Story of the CIA's Torture Program and Operation Snakebite: The Story of an Afghan Desert Siege

No other book has gone to such depths in research, nor been so descriptive in recounting this critical mission during the earliest days after 9/11 when the US Army Special Forces successfully waged unconventional warfare in Afghanistan. --Sergeant Major Billy Waugh, (US Army Special Forces Retired), author of Hunting the Jackal and Isaac Camacho, An American Hero

The greatest story of a small unit's battle through an untamed land since Lawrence of Arabia. --Adam Makos, editor, Valor Magazine

A captivating account of our heroic warriors -- a remarkable U.S. Army Special Forces unit's hard-fought success against incredible odds. It reads with the thrill of fiction -- but this is the damned deadly real deal. --W.E.B. Griffin & William E. Butterworth IV, bestselling authors of The Traffickers and The Honor of Spies

Meet the Author

Eric Blehm is the former editor of Transworld SNOWboarding, author of Agents of Change: The Story of DC Shoes and Its Athletes, and coauthor of P3: Pipes, Parks, and Powder. The Last Season was a Book Sense bestseller and a Barnes & Noble Discover selection. He lives in southern California with his wife and son.

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Only Thing Worth Dying For 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 204 reviews.
A-H More than 1 year ago
Great read, couldn't put it down. An amazing and intriguing look into what was and what is really going on in Afghanistan. The detail was intense, nice work Blehm
Drew_M More than 1 year ago
Eric Blehm couldn't have portrayed the story, both victories and defeats, of Specials Forces ODA 574 any better. Blehm clearly placed a high premium on accuracy by interviewing numerous members of ODA 574 as well as other major players - including Afghan president Hamid Karzai. As a future Army officer myself, the realism and attention to detail really sets this book apart from other similar books. Additionally, Blehm's writing clearly displays the emotion each member of ODA 574 put into their mission. The men may not have known at the time that Hamid Karzai would become president, but they knew that their roles would change Afghanistan forever. The story of ODA 574 certainly had its ups and downs but Blehm captures the determination of team to complete their mission despite sometimes overwhelming odds. It is accessible to everyone, whether or not they are especially familiar with the military.Overall, The Only Thing Worth Dying For is wonderfully written and meticulously researched.
kevblakebo More than 1 year ago
What an important book for our generation, especially for those of us who have never experienced war or simply don't understand what our service men and women are up against everyday to help protect innocent people and freedoms around the world. Eric Blehm's ability to tell this amazing story through these real life characters was simply fascinating and heartbreaking. I felt like I was there with them during this mission, and I still can't stop thinking about this story. My heart goes out to everyone affected by the tragedies of war. I truly believe this book will inspire generations to come, and I highly recommend this book to all Americans, Democrat or Republican, Pro-War or Anti-War. Thank you for having the courage and fortitude to stay true to the facts, and write this important book Mr. Blehm, and thank you to all of our military men and women who risk their lives everyday to protect our freedom.
Lorster1987 More than 1 year ago
I've always had a hard time understanding the War on Terror. Thank you for putting it an absorbing story for me to grasp the reality and the magnitude of this War on Terror. Definately a "Must Read!"
NEVADA-BOOKWORM More than 1 year ago
This timely story on current events involving critical issues in Afghanistan will totally thrill and entertain the reader. My wife and I read and enjoyed Eric Blehm's previous book, titled "The Last Season", and having worked in the National Park Service, we were impressed by the author's depth in research, and ability to portray with amazing accuracy the nuances of backcountry wilderness rangers, search and rescue operations, and the types of characters who gravitate to those fields. While I do follow current events, I am not the type who would normally pick up a book about WAR, but we were so taken by Eric Blehm's last book, his writing style and depth of his research into real life events that we wanted to see if his follow up book would take us into Afghanistan, like he took us into the High Sierra in his last book. He succeed. I got the book yesterday, and finished it today. Blehm's talent for research clearly raises the bar for nonfiction books. His style of writing brings excitement and detail to real life stories and makes these events read like the most exciting thriller on the shelf. (Read the endnotes, Blehm only used info gathered from his own interviews with eye witnesses who were there) Before reading "The Only Thing Worth Dying For", I thought our Special Forces teams were just a bunch of snake eaters and assassins. This story reveals in detail a well educated, a highly trained team, and a dedicated and politically astute element in this sensitive real life assignment. The only reason you will put this book down is to take a deep breath and calm your emotions before reading on. It is exciting, educational, and a politically relevant tale of significant real events effecting our current and ever deepening involvement in the complicated Afghanistan corner of our world. Do not miss this one! Nevada Bookworm
DOL5SFGA More than 1 year ago
This is by far the best book on the contemporary U.S. war in Afghanistan published thus far. Eric Blehm is both a gifted storyteller and a meticulous researcher. He makes you feel like you are on the ground in Afghanistan, serving as a member of a Special Forces "A-team." The narrative recounts the struggles of a small group of men who defeated the Taliban in their tribal heartland and brought Hamid Karzai to power in 2001. Despite our American fascination with technology and firepower, war remains a uniquely human endeavor. Blehm's characters are fully developed because he captures the human condition in extraordinary circumstances: valor and cowardice, the altruistic and the self-interested, skill and luck. Those of us who directly participated in these events have praised this book as the first one to paint the full picture of what happened after 9/11. Accurately capturing every facet of this strategic turning point required exhaustive research. The author interviewed everyone from Special Forces teammates to Afghan President Karzai. He uses official documents, but steers clear of CIA or Department of Defense self-appraisals that paint an overly flattering picture. In total, this provides the reader with a visceral understanding of both modern combat and the timeless concepts of the fog and friction of war. "The Only Thing Worth Dying For" is an engrossing read that is also enlightening. Eric Blehm provides a rare look at Hamid Karzai as our nation makes pivotal decisions on the way forward in Afghanistan. And as our nation grapples with terrorist threats in places like Yemen and Somalia, this book provides a lesson in succeeding on the ground without a large commitment of forces.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was an amazing read. As an Military Operator, I can attest to the real feel of the story. The emotions, camaraderie, and the problems that go along overzealous leadership, are all real. The story was fully approved by the SF soldiers and their survivors. With all of the media "junk" out there, you should really pick this book up. It's very hard to put down. This is a great book especially if you want to learn what a Special Forces soldier is really like. This story really tied up the Afghanistan situation for me with a view of what was going on in the crucial Southern part of the country, when what we were being reported all the time was focused on the North. The brave Soldiers and Airman of this story have had their adventure told in an accurate, respectful manner. The author specifically steered clear of glamorized violence and gore. That being said, you will get a very well written dose of what hell must surely be like and how the US Military handled things in an extremely professional manner, and also where it failed miserably. The story is a successful one about helping put a good leader in to place against insurmountable odds.
rangerider More than 1 year ago
This book was a great book which revealed the dedication and sacrifices that our Green Berets / Special Forces made in helping the Afghan people and President Karza in forming their government. This book shows the training, and commitment and sacrifices that members of our Special Forces made. It is a book that you can not put down once you start to read about the challenges that the men were faced with on a daily basis in working with the Afghans and also the Senior U.S. Officers who were wanting to coach from the sidelines so they could get their medals and awards on the basis of the original Green Berets work with the Afghans. Unfortunately, the ending of the book reveals the true sacrifice of these 11 Green Berets/Special Forces when Senior Officers give orders and make decisions without consideration for the Special Forces Team or the Afghans. This should be required reading for each American and should be in each Library. Each of us, as Americans, need to say Thank you to the men and women serving our country and protecting our freedom and the freedom of others.
DougMoore More than 1 year ago
I have had the pleasure to read this gripping tale of the account of the 11 man Green Beret Team that escorted Karzai into Afghanistan from Pakistan a few short weeks after the horrors of 9-11. Anyone who wishes to read an objective, incredibly well researched account of a seminal point in the development of Afghan freedom, owes it to themselves to read this book. It is the true story of the men we entrust with our own freedom and the championing of freedom in distant lands. Thank you Eric for your brutal and honest commitment to accuracy and for helping to peel back the onion skin of a complex contemporary issue.
E_Shirley More than 1 year ago
Eric Blehm continues to enthrall his readers with his outstanding writing ability. In The Only Thing Worth Dying For, Eric tells the story of the brave men of the Green Berets in Afghanistan with incredible detail and compelling drama. The book is nonfiction, but is written in such a way that the story captivates the reader and quickly becomes a page turner. Eric has a true gift in telling a story based upon fact without interjecting his personal biases or beliefs. The compilation of his interviews with the subjects of his book provided the information and dialogue. The way he assembled it and told the story is outstanding. I highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates great writing. Eric has honored the brave men of ODA 574 with the writing of this story. America is blessed to have brave men like those in ODA 574. America is also blessed to have great writers like Eric Blehm.
PenguinKS More than 1 year ago
This is an extraordinarily well-written book with a storyline that reveals genuine understanding among men before a mistake occurs that leaves one in tears. If only we could have maintained the good will that was developed during this early episode shortly after 9/11. Eric Blehm's research is extremely thorough and it is apparent that he develops a trusting relationship with his interviewees, which is the only way a story of this magnitude has any validity. A must read for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of Afghanistan and its history of the last 40 years. A must read in order to meet the Green Berets who served their country with such distinction.
granddad More than 1 year ago
Not your typical war story, but more of an inward look of the Special Forces and what they do correctly and wrongly. Also a well researched view of what went on in the early days of our involvement in Afghanistan. Doesn't say much for the Bush Administration. A good and fast read.
ARGSD More than 1 year ago
I find that I can't put this book down. I am both fascinated by everything I am learning, and still touched worrying about these green berets. I can't help but like all these men. I have so much respect and admiration for them all. Blehm has done an excellent job or putting a human element on a tough war and also helping the average person understand how and why things are done in the middle East. I found I cared so much about the Green Berets and couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen next. I also found I understood the makeup of Afghanistan better and much more sympathy for the Afghan people.
bruno18c More than 1 year ago
I spent 8 years in the SF, an awesome written book of the men in Afghanistan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr Blehm's research is very thorough. The book follows Operational Detachment Alpha (Green Beret) team who took Hamid Karzai from Pakistan into Helmand and Kandahar provinces in order to overthrow the Taliban and to prevent the Northern Alliance from pushing south too far. I wish the book would have interviewed Gen Mattis, USMC to counter the one-sided bashing he took, but that is the only weakness I noted.
redoneC227 More than 1 year ago
Missed this one when it came out; read Fearless first. Fearless is one of the most moving accounts of our special operators and heroes yet. So I wanted to read anything else Blehm had written. It did not disappoint. Totally different perspective, but nonetheless a riveting story. Great insight into the evolution of how our military has adapted to the war on terror. Great background on Hamid Karzai and makes it difficult to reconcile his public behavior now, but that is the conundrum of Afghanistan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who would say The Only Thing Dying For
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spoiler alert! Apparently the only thing worth dying for is friendly fire. I certainly respect the service men who were a part of these events. However, the book itself was awful. The author could not keep the story flowing. I regret wasting money on this book.
oiboy123 More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book. I have recommended it to anyone I know who is an active reader, and to those looking for a great, inspirational, yet tragic story. Well written, Blehm is one of my favorite authors, and this book certainly shows why!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a vet who was on thr Uss Kitty hawk(cv-63) I had the pleasure to meet these people. I served on ship as we had Task Force Sword on board. This is agreat insight into the early days in Afgahnistan. If your a vet, or a war buff this is a great bokk, as well as his story of Adam Brown in Fearless! My favirite quote: My subject is war, and the pity of war, the poetry is in the pity.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great telling of undaunted courage in the face of the enemy, and in the face of allies at times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago