…rousing, uplifting…for those who like their military history told through the eyes of heroic grunts, sergeants and captains. Think of Stephen E. Ambrose's Band of Brothers or Stanton’s own best seller, In Harm's Way…Stanton packs a huge amount of research into a thrilling action ride of a book. The valor exhibited by Afghan and American soldiers, fighting to free Afghanistan from a horribly cruel regime, will inspire even the most jaded reader. The stunning victory of the horse soldiers350 Special Forces soldiers, 100 C.I.A. officers and 15,000 Northern Alliance fighters routing a Taliban army 50,000 strongdeserves a hallowed place in American military history.
The New York Times
In this absolutely riveting account, full of horror and raw courage, journalist Stanton (In Harm's Way) recreates the miseries and triumphs of specially trained mounted U.S. soldiers, deployed in the war-ravaged Afghanistan mountains to fight alongside the Northern Alliance-thousands of rag-tag Afghans who fought themselves to exhaustion or death-against the Taliban. The U.S. contingent, almost to a man, had never ridden horses-especially not these "shaggy and thin-legged, and short... descendents of the beasts Genghis Khan had ridden out of Uzbekistan"-but that was not the only obstacle: rattling helicopters, outdated maps, questionable air support and insufficient food also played their parts. Stanton brings each soldier and situation to vivid life: "Bennett suddenly belted out: 'It just keeps getting better and better!' Here they were, living on fried sheep and filtered ditchwater...calling in ops-guided bombs on bunkers built of mud and wood scrap, surrounded by Taliban fighters." In less than three months, this handful of troops secured a city in which a fort had been taken over by Taliban prisoners, a tangle of firefights and mayhem that became a seminal battle and, in Stanton's prose, a considerable epic: "Dead and dying men and wounded horses had littered the courtyard, a twitching choir that brayed and moaned in the rough, knee-high grass."
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In the heady days immediately after the American invasion of Afghanistan, a few hardy soldiers infiltrated the country's Taliban strongholds and fought a guerrilla war. They often used horses, worked with indigenous fighters, called in air strikes, and gathered vital intelligence. Their high point was the ousting of the Taliban from Mazar-i-sharif. A lively and exciting battle chronicle that will be popular.
Edwin B. Burgess
An action-packed, breathless account of American special-forces heroics that helped defeat the Taliban in the months after 9/11. Stanton (In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors, 2001) apparently belongs to the history-is-boring school of writing, so he converts his material into a dime-novel narrative complete with strong-jawed American heroes, sneering villains, colorful natives and a relentless series of melodramatic cliff-hangers-an odd authorial choice, given that the plain facts are irresistible. Enraged at the Taliban's refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden after 9/11, the United States resolved to invade Afghanistan. When military leaders realized it would take months to move soldiers to the distant, landlocked nation, they sent small numbers of elite Special Forces to support opposition fighters, guide precision air attacks and bribe local warlords to join. It worked brilliantly. Stanton recounts the lives of a dozen such soldiers and undercover CIA operatives, revealing their emotions and thoughts, quoting inner monologues and inventing dialogue to dramatize events. He invents similar scenarios for many Afghan figures and for John Walker Lindh, the American who fought for the Taliban. Using diplomatic skills, money, airdropped supplies and high-tech communications equipment, the soldiers inspired Afghan forces, who did almost all the fighting, to unite and crush the Taliban. In the final pages Stanton admits that America squandered this dazzling triumph. Happily proclaiming victory, the administration turned its attention elsewhere as Afghanistan descended into chaos from which the Taliban emerged again to control most ofthe country. Dumbed-down history delivered in purple prose.
"Doug Stanton's Horse Soldiers is as gripping as the most intricately plotted thriller. It is a masterwork of stunning military action, brilliant in-depth journalism, and powerful storytelling. Finally Americans can know how just a few dozen courageous U.S. soldiers beat the Taliban under the most extreme and dangerous conditions imaginable. I could not put this book down." Vince Flynn
"Horse Soldiers is a great read a riveting story of the brave and resourceful American warriors who rode into Afghanistan after 9/11 and waged war against Al Qaeda. We're hearing many of these stories for the first time and from those who waged a war worthy of Rudyard Kipling, James Bond, and Davy Crockett." Tom Brokaw
"Doug Stanton's Horse Soldiers is the story of the first large American unconventional warfare operation since World War II. My Green Berets were launched deep into enemy territory to befriend, recruit, equip, advise, and lead their Afghan counterparts to attack the Taliban. The Horse Soldiers succeeded brilliantly with a highly decentralized campaign, reinforced with modern airpower's precision weapons, forcing the Taliban government's collapse in a few months. Doug Stanton captures the gritty realities of the campaign as no other can." Geoffrey C. Lambert, major general (retired), U.S. Army, and commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne), 2001-2003
"Not just an epic war story, Horse Soldiers is a beautifully written, intimate portrait of the men and women who lived the battle on the fields of fire and at home, too. Their secret mission against the Taliban was intelligent, brave, and undertaken with great care for the good people of Afghanistan. Doug Stanton's superb account is an invaluable insight for policy makers and the public for years to come." Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea
"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
"Spellbinding...action packed prose. [Stanton's] gritty narrative is thoroughly researched and the details of military operations jarringly precise...The book reads more like a novel than a military history...the Horse Soldier's secret mission remains the U.S. military's finest moment in what has since arguably been a muddled war." USA Today
"Stanton packs a huge amount of research into a thrilling action-ride of a book... deserves a hallowed place in American military history...." Bruce Barcott, cover of The New York Times Book Review
"Horse Soldiers reads like a cross between an old-fashioned Western and a modern spy thriller." Parade Magazine
"Stanton has captured the inner workings of... Special Forces operations. A thorough recounting of the events told from the soldiers' point of view." Veritas, Journal of Special Operations History