Friday, July 17, 2009

Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton

Jackie and I both read this and liked it. It's the story of a small band of Special Forces soldiers who entered Afghanistan shortly after 9/11 and worked with local, often competing, warlord factions to overthrow the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. You get to know the men and their training prior to deployment and then follow them as they move from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan via the worst helicopter ride you'll ever read about to the headquarters of one of the warlords. They lived with, and at the level of, the local fighters, which is to say they were very deprived and operated under extreme circumstances for long periods of time. It was touch-and-go near the end and could easily have resulted in a campaign that lasted years instead of months. We are a fortunate people to have those among us willing to live the life these Special Forces troops have chosen.
For those who've read "The Kite Runner" and "Three Cups of Tea," this is a compliment to those views of life in Afghanistan. I got a stronger sense of just how widespread and evil the Taliban regime was and how complex Afghan society is. I'm not sure if the country can be governed as a republic in the same way as occurs in the U.S., but it sounds like our initial foray into that country started on the right foot and gave us a better chance as being viewed as liberators rather than conquerors.

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