In this New York Times bestseller, award-winning combat reporter Sean Naylor reveals how close American forces came to disaster in Afghanistan against Al Qaida-after easily defeating the ragtag Taliban that had sheltered the terrorist organization behind the 9/11 attacks.
At dawn on March 2, 2002, over 200 soldiers of the 101st Airborne and 10th Mountain Divisions flew into the mouth of a buzz saw in the Shahikot Valley. Believing the war all but over, U.S. military leaders refused to commit the troops and materiel required to fight the war's biggest battle-a missed opportunity to crush hundreds of Al Qaida's fighters and some of its most senior leaders. Eyewitness Naylor vividly portrays the heroism of the young, untested soldiers unprepared for the ferocious enemy they fought; the mistakes that led to a hellish mountaintop firefight; and how thirteen American commandos embodied "Patton's three principles of war"-audacity, audacity and audacity-by creeping unseen over frozen mountains into the heart of an enemy stronghold to prevent a U.S. military catastrophe.
Naylor does an admirable job of exposing the many shortcomings that plagued this chapter of the Afghanistan war, although he does not sort the major from the minor failings or linger over the broader lessons. What the book lacks in analytical heft, however, it more than makes up in drama.