12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers

12 Strong: The Declassified True Story of the Horse Soldiers

by Doug Stanton

Paperback(Media Tie-In)

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Horse Soldiers 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 167 reviews.
MAK-Attack More than 1 year ago
As he did "In Harm's Way", Doug Stanton has written another factual, thrilling account; this time about a small band of Special Forces soldiers ordered to Afghanistan on a secret mission shortly after 9/11 to assist local warlords in the fight against the Taliban in the northern part of the country. The soldiers pursued the enemy on horseback, riding over brutal terrain and fighting battles along the way, to capture the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. The book culminates with the exciting battle at the city's fortress Qala-i-Janghi, which will hold your attention and take your breath away. It seems like you are right there watching the soldiers fight an enemy that greatly outnumbered them. In "Horse Soldiers" you get to know individual soldiers and their families. While the men faced unsurmountable odds in Afghanistan, their families waited at home in great anticipation to hear from their loved ones. Can the soldiers trust the Afghan generals who are leading them into the battles? Are the people in the villages members of the Taliban? The soldiers must be constantly cautious and on alert. Stanton's narrative is researched exceptionally well; the book reads like a novel. Stanton has included a list of key players at the beginning of the book, which I found helpful and referred to often. Also, maps and drawings help you better understand different vital locations. Beliefs are contrasted between CIA Paramilitary Officer Mike Spann, loyal to the U.S., and the young American found fighting alongside the Taliban, John Walker Lindh. The Horse Soldiers combined strategies of calvary warfare with 21st century aerial bombardment technology. The soldiers make an effort to befriend the local townspeople and avoid civilian casualties. That they did so serves as a valuable lesson for America's fight in Afghanistan today. For the most part, this is a country of a proud people fighting oppression by the Taliban and in search of its place in the modern world, in pursuit of humanity for all its citizens. Stanton's "Horse Soldiers" is a book with heart, with an unforgettable message.
PaulHosse1 More than 1 year ago
Doug Stanton has written the gripping true story of American Special Forces fighting against and sometimes along side Afghan warlords in their hunt for the Taliban in what can only be described as the Wild West meets High Tech in his bestseller, "Horse Soldiers". I remember when this story first broke a few years ago. I followed it closely on Fox News and CNN with both pride and fascination as I watched US Special Forces units, along with a host of colorful and often deadly array of individuals battling the Taliban from the air, ground, and on horseback as they transverse some of the most beautiful and inhospitable land on the planet. Doug Stanton has done a wonderful job of relating their stories. Written from the perspectives of those who participated, "Horse Soldiers" provides outstanding examples of how to merge the high tech of today's military with the needs of the mission, which in some cases, required US troops to take a backseat to the egos of Afghanistan's ruling warlords who, without their assistance, we stood no chance of success. What I personally enjoyed the most as former military, was that in writing the book, Stanton doesn't allow himself to get in the way of those telling the story, namely those who took on and fought the Taliban a some journalist do. Kudos to Stanton! I can easily see this book becoming required reading at any of our nation's military academies. As I commented to friend of mine recently, "Horse Soldiers" is like a Tom Clancy novel, only this is real! So, if you're someone who is interested in the war on terrorism or simply enjoy high adventure, this book is for you.
JimDean More than 1 year ago
First I would like to state my relevant personal life experience as it applies. For more than a decade I was a civilian engineer working with and around DoD special operations personnel in various capacities. I was NOT an operator, however. Not even close. Having said that, I can say that this expedition in Afghanistan was, in my opinion, what Special Operations is all about. It may have been US SpecOps' finest hour, but there have been many fine hours for SpecOps, so that statement would quite likely be contradictory among knowledgeable SpecOps personnel. But it shows the type of results that can be acheived with just a few dedicated, elite, highly trained, and superbly selected individuals. The author, unfortunately, was so agog at the type of heroism that is common among these people that he neglected to give an adequate top level overview of the events as they unfolded. This made it difficult for me to follow as I read through the various anecdotes. Nevertheless, he has heralded an incredible story that desperately needs to be told to all Americans. When these events were unfolding, they could never have been chronicled, for a number of reasons, so the American public has not had even a glimmer of what occurred. But now enough time has passed that the story can be told without getting mired down in spin, politics, or petty recriminations, to say nothing of causing serious suffering to those heroic soldiers who would have been dangerously compromised by earlier publicity. And what a story it is! I would recommend it for all Americans who would like to be proud of their country and what some have done for it.
JOEJW More than 1 year ago
I'm a Vietnam Vet, Combat Infantryman, so I can sure understand their heavy loads carried on their backs. As was pointed out in the book, you can't carry enough ammo. This is a very good read, my thanks to the Doug Stanton for telling their story. SFC Joseph H Wolfe, Jr. USA (RET)
CHWOOLANDS More than 1 year ago
If you think you're a tough guy read this book. Afterwards, if you still think you're a tough guy you're probably in the book.
LPN More than 1 year ago
This story is from headlines in the last 10 years, but is likely to be a history lesson for future studies of the Afghan war effort since 2001. So much is written of WWII heroic efforts, Vietnam and Korea's plusses and minuses, but current history often neglected. The Iraq and Afghanistan war efforts have modern day heroes that are beginning to show up in non-fiction literature. "Eight lives down" is an example in the Iraq theatre, and "Horse Soldiers" will bring the effort of US Special Forces to light in a way not recognized by the press. Stanton's chronological account of brave and brilliant US service men integrating themselves into the Afghan tribal war saga and with few men, and significant strategy accomplish more the tens of thousands of troops will do under less competant but higher level authority. This account leaves you with a respect and admiration for today's career military, extraordinary telling of a present day military success that will linger long after the last page.
yeremenko on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A lot of detail about the actual on the ground activities of US special forces in Afghanistan. The story covers, in depth, missions to guide bombs onto Taliban forces and efforts to bring allies into the fight. There is also enough information about the anti-Taliban Afghans to help one understand the ongoing problems that exist today. Though the story paints the Americans as heroes it does not ignore their errors or failures in preparation and supply.The final portion of the book is most relevant to today's issues. It discusses how many of the special forces soldiers from the Afghanistan victory disagreed in the approach in Iraq and predicted the troubles with insurgents.This is a must read for anyone interested in 911, the war on terror, or military tactics.
kr04bps on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Doug Stanton asserts that wars in the 21st century will require as much diplomacy from soldiers as knowledge of warfare. His work narrates the compelling story of a small group of American Special Forces soldiers who fignt alongside anti-Taliban Afghanis in the weeks after 9/11, combining advanced tecnnology with ancient warefare, riding small, hardy horses through rugged terrain to quickly defeat the unpopular oppressors. Their methods of developing mutual trust and respect with the Afghan warlords and soldiers are starkly contrssted with the experience in Iraq, especially with the dissolution of the Iraqi army. Carefully researched, Stanton creates memorable characters in the background stories of these brave soldiers and homey family men, and makes the reader wonder why the general American population doesn't know their remarkable story.
jmcilree on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fast and interesting read on the role Special Forces played in the defeat of the Taliban in Afghanistan immediately following 9/11. Many details are left out in order to focus on a dozen or so soldiers specific roles in the War.Well done.
sgtbigg on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Stanton documents the actions of U.S. Special Forces soldiers who entered Afghanistan in October 2001 with the mission of assisting Northern Alliance forces in their battle against the Taliban. The description of 21st Century horse cavalry charges alone are worth reading the book for. Besides the stories of the men involved Stanton also documents the activities of John Walker Lindh. The book culminates in the riot at Qala-i-Jangi where Lindh was captured and Mike Spann became the first U.S. casulty of the Afghan war. While the U.S.'s lack of preparation and intelligence prior to the start of the war is apparent throughout, the Special Forces troops helped the Northern Alliance take control of Afghanistan. The epilogue explains how it was then lost when the U.S. stopped using the tactics that had worked in the first place, it was also critical of the methods used in Iraq. One issue I had with the book was Stanton often ascribed words or thoughts to people he was unlikely to have interviewed. In one case he wrote about something Mike Spann was thinking shortly before he was killed, however from the time he had these "thoughts" until his death a few minutes later, he didn't speak to anyone. While in all likelihood Stanton used these for narrative effect, it does make me question what else he may have invented. Regardless, a good book well worth reading.
TimBazzett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Doug Stanton was born in the Reed City Public Library. In fact I have heard him say this. Of course at the time it was the Reed City Hospital, but it still makes a great opening line for a review of Doug's newest book, HORSE SOLDIERS, recently released by Scribner. Because Stanton writes like he was born to it. Here is history that reads like the best fiction of the action-adventure type. Now a resident of Traverse City where he grew up, Doug is a product of the Interlochen Arts Academy and the Iowa Writer's Workshop. His first book, IN HARM'S WAY (2001), was an international bestseller. After reading HORSE SOLDIERS, I strongly suspect it will enjoy similar success. The subtitle of Stanton's new book may be problematic for some. It reads: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of U.S. Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan. And, in a nutshell, it's a good description of the book's content. Because the soldiers described in these pages are indeed extraordinary people who deserve to be recognized. The problem for some more politically oriented readers, however, will be the word "victory." They will argue that the U.S. has not achieved victory in Afghanistan and probably never will. But this is not a book about politics. This is a book about ordinary people, military men and officers, who have trained hard and dedicated their lives to safeguarding the security of our nation, both here and abroad. They are not political people. They were given a mission, and they carried it out to the best of their abilities, despite extreme hardships and unbelievably primitive conditions. They suffered hunger, thirst, cold, exhaustion, sickness and wounds incurred in battle. Against what appeared to be insurmountable odds, these Special Forces soldiers and Special Ops pilots (and a few CIA paramilitaries) persevered and were indeed successful in carrying out their mission, the taking of the town of Mazar-e-Sharif from the Taliban forces. Working in concert with the combined forces of several Afghan warlords of the Northern Alliance, the SF teams lived in caves or in the open, and ate what their Afghan allies ate - often little or nothing. They traveled on horseback, even though many of them had never been on a horse before. This initially prompted some rather comical scenes reminiscent of episodes from F Troop. But despite the too-small wooden saddles, too-short stirrups, and bleeding sores, they quickly adapted. And once mounted, these few dozen courageous soldiers became the first Americans of the twenty-first century to participate in a cavalry charge, racing up and down ridges against vastly superior Taliban forces as they marched steadily north to their objective of Mazar-e-Sharif. In a strange combination of spaghetti western and Star Wars, the Americans, packing radios, GPS devices and laser sights, called in gunships and pinpointed bomb strikes to put the fear of Allah into their numerically superior black-turbaned enemies. The story told here covers no more than a couple of months' time shortly after the 9/11 bombings of New York. But, sticking to the style that earned him such success in his first book, Stanton fleshes out the narrative with personal details on all the principals involved, having interviewed the men, their friends, families and superior officers. He was able to do this by gaining unprecedented access to the lives of soldiers who are ordinarily very silent about their activities. Stanton logged literally thousands of miles of travel in the six years he spent researching his story, not just here in the U.S., but also in Afghanistan, where he interviewed some of the warlords involved in the operation, as well as various citizens and shopkeepers of Mazar-e-Sharif, the town liberated from the Taliban in November 2001. You will meet men - and their families - from Alabama, Kentucky, Minnesota, West Virginia, California, Kansas, Texas and Michigan. Any one of them could be your neighbor. The story reaches a horrific clima
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the United State’s first offensive attacks against terrorism following the events of 9/11, things go horribly wrong for the Special Forces soldiers who are fighting in Afghanistan. Captain Mitch Nelson is left with twelve men to fight against hundreds of Taliban and Al-Qaida prisoners who ambush them and fight back. Highly trained, but vastly outnumbered and outgunned, Captain Nelson must lead this group of men while fighting for their lives. Doug Stanton does an amazing job bringing the events of the book to life, showing you not just what happened, but also brings to life the thoughts and feelings of not just the men fighting, but also their families back home. The book starts out back in the United States walking you through the attacks of 9/11 and the fear everyone had, including the families of the Special Forces Operators. They knew what was coming, but when and if the men would return was a mystery. Everything was a mystery to the families including where or what the men would be doing. The sacrifices made by these soldiers is beyond belief and this book brings you through the intense action in great detail. This book was very well written, and keeps you glued to the pages in its page turning action. The book could be split up a little better, but overall it is a very good read! It is a great way of showing what these men did to serve our country and it will give you a greater appreciation for what the men and women in our military do to serve this country.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Griping account
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very much enjoyed this detailed story of the courageous SF operators sent in to Afghanistan early in the war on terror and against seemingly insurmountable odds.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very detailed, could put myself see myself in their shoes, riding the horses, being in the melee of combat, real American hero's
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent reading. A gripping account of what our special forces go through.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Even more respect for our Special Forces. The battles are real, as are the people but it reads like some made up fantasy. Also, it brings home how tough the Afghans are. No wonder they have defeated so many armies. Great read--five stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Totally respect our Special Forces. Thank you for your service. As a regular Army veteran I don't think I would have had their courage.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good book and gave lots of details about the beginnings of the war in Afghanistan. There are a lot of names to keep track of so I would recommend a cheat sheet if you have a bad memory like me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Funest game ever
Anonymous More than 1 year ago