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Not A Good Day To Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda

4.11  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,361 Ratings  ·  101 Reviews
If you loved American Sniper you will love Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda. Award-winning journalist Sean Naylor, an eyewitness to the action, vividly portrays the fight for Afghanistan's most hostile battleground.

At dawn on March 2, 2002, the first major battle of the 21st Century began. Over 200 soldiers of the 101st Airborne and 10th Mounta
Published June 1st 2006 by Penguin (first published March 1st 2005)
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Jan 13, 2012 Steve rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, journalism, war
Too many Chiefs...

And definitely, due to micro-management of the battlefield, not enough of our Indians. Not a Good Day to Die, by Sean Naylor, is just a terrific battle-book. It's almost overwhelming in detail, but Naylor is a fine writer taking you, with effective prose, to the mountains of Afghanistan. You as a reader are there as an Al Queda warrior studies mysterious ATV tracks in the mud while nearby he's being marked by a special ops sniper. You are there on the slopes as a few brave guy
Not a Good Day to Die is a decent 3-Star account of our first major battle in Afghanistan after we kicked out the Taliban. This operation defines the acronym FUBAR. I decided the author wanted to get that concept across by writing almost 200 pages about the lead up and planning in such a way as to completely confuse the reader. I did not find his account of the plan (or lack of one) as enlightening or analytical as it should have been. I also did not enjoy the obvious slant he brought to the acc ...more
Nov 28, 2011 Chrissy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military
This was a great book detailing Operation Anaconda. It's apparent the author did a lot of research, and interview quotes from the people involved are seamlessly integrated throughout the text. The book is incredibly thorough, describing how everything ended up the way it did and why. The author seemed to give a very objective assessment about the successes, failures, and the men involved which I appreciated. Furthermore, this book did an excellent job showing how this operation exemplifies how t ...more
One of the best "War books" I have read. The first half of the book did proceed relatively slow, laying all of the background for what would happen. However, it introduces all the main characters and paints a wonderful picture about what will take place during "Operation Anaconda."
Spoiler alert!: Operation Anaconda was the first battle with 'conventional' forces (i.e. rangers, mountain infantry, etc., not the special forces and delta working with the native tribal warlords like some of you migh
May 19, 2011 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A sobering look at a completely mismanaged operation in Afghanistan. A true story of heroism, idiotic government bumbling, and how the men on the ground are the ones who have to deal with it and overcome the obstacles of not only the enemy but their faulty high command. Those responsible for this failed endeavor should be put before a court martial for their decisions and ignoring the intel presented to them by men who were actually on the ground. Their refusing to believe the facts cost us dear ...more
Sep 10, 2011 Jared rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history
I was part of this mission back in 2002 and I was initially excited when I heard that a book about Anaconda was being released. This narrative explains little to those who are familiar with operation and glorifies certain personalities (whom I know personally) that do not necessarily earn the laurels Naylor gives them here. Ultimately this book fails to deliver a definitive account of the planning or execution of Operation Anaconda, and the details which the author chooses to focus on are certai ...more
Chris Ross
A truly remarkable book! A great read that I could not put down. I have to say the first 187 pages are tough to slog through and they are important to understand what happened on Takur Ghar. This book gives the reader a pretty good sense of what our military forces face on the battlefield. It also details just how fucked up the mission was and that when you put all 4 branches of our military (ARMY, NAVY, Marines, and US Air Force) together into the same battle there is bound to be confusion, int ...more
Mar 13, 2011 Oceana2602 rated it it was ok
Sean Naylor has an amazing talent for describing details.

I now know the personality of each of the 1700 US troops involved in Operation Anaconda, when they first met each other, and what their first dogs were called. Also, what they had for breakfast. On every single day of the mission. Well, I suppose there were some days they didn't have breakfast.

Sadly, Naylor does not have the same talent for storytelling, and so I know almost nothing about Operation Anaconda, because that information was ki
Mar 25, 2016 Jerome rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great, engaging history of Operation Anaconda, with a stress on its infamous command difficulties. The flow of the narrative is smooth, all of the players are fleshed out, and Naylor admirably sorts out all of the decisions made and actions taken.

Naylor describes the problems in running a battle from thousands of miles away and the effect of Rumsfeld’s and Franks’ desire not to put huge numbers of American soldiers on the ground. He describes the confusing command relationship between CENTCOM
An outstanding, contemporary history of a short, but significant battle fought in the dead of winter in 2002. As I am currently based in Gardez and regularly fly over the Shahikot it was an extremely interesting read. Sean Naylor does an outstanding job of setting the scene and bringing the protagonists, their decisions and actions to life. The only thing that could have made this better would have been to include testimony of some of the Al Qaeda participants in the battle. Sean superbly highli ...more
Nov 03, 2010 Don rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, military
Fascinating read about the early stages of the war in Afghanistan. Naylor does a good job of presenting the events, decisions, and players leading up to Operation Anaconda and the ensuing... outcomes. The book shows the perils of command and control (C2) from afar and how relying too heavily on limited information (even nifty images from UAVs) can lead to poor situational awareness and bad decisions. Naylor tries to stay out of the blame game, but his opinions on that front do leak through at ti ...more
Stephen Ritchie
Feb 08, 2012 Stephen Ritchie rated it it was amazing
Not a Good Day to Die is an excellent account of Operation Anaconda that lays bare many of the organizational and communication problems that plague large-scale operations. There were clearly many involved in the operation who knew their job and performed it admirably. However, mistakes were made. The mistakes made and lessons learned are very well presented and described. These are important when trying to understand the key principles and failure modes that underlie command, control, communica ...more
Apr 11, 2015 a.t.m. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tragic story about combat in Afghanistan

How can American troops go into combat without proper support such as artillery or better communications? Troops died in this combat operation because troops couldn't communicate with one another largely because of interservice rivalries. There is the story of a medevac carried out at night when a helicopter carrying a team of seals jumped out and provided 360 security. In the meantime army personal, medevac medics, and others had to struggle in the cold t
Nov 20, 2008 Joe rated it it was ok
This book was okay. It is not very unbiased and a lot of what he chose to write about was only part of the story. I know a lot of the people that he wrote about and sometimes he presents an accurate description but sometimes he is pretty far off. It's worth reading however if you have no idea what has been going on.
Marc Baldwin
Feb 15, 2014 Marc Baldwin rated it liked it
I wanted to give this book four stars, but I decided to give it three since the beginning was a little too loaded with pre-battle background that made it difficult to get into the book. It took awhile to get to that point where I didn't want to put it down, but once it got to the battle itself, it was a page-turner.

Before reading Not a Good Day to Die, I knew very little, if anything, about Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan. It is a well-written account of the battle, and Naylor paints a vivid p
Jun 21, 2009 Fred added it
good dense,thorough,detailed, and descriptive
Robert Steele
Feb 01, 2014 Robert Steele rated it liked it
Shelves: paperback
As I am mentioned, though not by name, in a quite negative light in the book, I wish Mr. Naylor had taken the time to interview members of the SOT-A teams he denigrates in this work. Operation Anaconda, in the Shah-i-Kowt Valley in Afghanistan, was a short, but violent, chapter in the recent history of the United States Army, and one of the rare times when a SOT-A team was in direct contact with enemy forces.

However, I do appreciate his efforts to bring the background and disparate elements of t
May 18, 2016 brook rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: could-not-finish
2.5 stars, putting me in the minority.

This reads like a 450-page After Action Report, with a little bit of romance novel thrown in. I'm not some bloodthirsty, kill-'em-all gore hound, looking for guys gunning down faceless bad guys like Rambo. I'm fine with a battle/war narrative that is mostly logistics, background and movements. This book is as much Congressional Investigation as it is narrative. There is a lot of "who's fault was this" and "figure out what happened after the fact" that took m
Kenny Brouwers
Jan 13, 2015 Kenny Brouwers rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-as-e-book
Naylor has done a great job at painting a vivid and extremely detailed account of one of the most interesting US military operations in the global war on Terror: Operation Anaconda. Although fairly unknown to people outside of the military (history) community, Anaconda was a notorious operation, both positively as well as negative.

The book starts with introducing the initial planning and political backgrounds leading up to reconnaissance operations by SOF teams in the Shahikot Valley, Afghanist
Ilsa Bick
Jul 31, 2011 Ilsa Bick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who’s been awake for the last, nearly ten years remembers this. Anaconda was the first large-scale U.S. joint military and paramilitary CIA operation in Afghanistan to involve both Special Forces and regular units working in cooperation with allied Afghan, NATO and non-NATO forces against the Taliban–and it was supposed to be a cakewalk, given the U.S.’s military might. Designed to root out Taliban from the Shahi-Kot Valley and Arma Mountains, the operation instead became a rout of the U. ...more
Eddie Diaz-Conde'
Oct 03, 2008 Eddie Diaz-Conde' rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: future armed forces
Recommended to Eddie Diaz-Conde' by: my step father
Operation Anaconda was the largest battle fought by American Conventional forces in Afghanistan.It took place in a remote valley in high altitude were the oxygen levels will get low and wear down the men.But Sean Naylor, a correspondent from the Army Times, was there as an embedded reporter and witnessed the battle witch now he wrote the book not a good day to die.In January of 2002 American intelligence became aware of a big concentration of Al Qaeda fighters in the Shahikot valley in Southeast ...more
Jan 25, 2011 Evan rated it really liked it
This detailed history of Operation Anaconda is another book that gives you a different perspective on "the war on terror". An expose of the planning and execution of raids on significant al Qaeda positions in Afganistan told in way that exposes all of the flaws of US mismanagment and indirectly answers questions like "How could Osama Bin Laden or friends escape while surrounded by armies and special forces?". Long on detail from countless sources, it gives a moment to moment account of a largely ...more
Dec 12, 2009 Tyler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Synopsis: This book tells the story of Operation Anaconda which took place in the Shahikot Valley in Afghanistan in early 2002. The operation was a couple of months after the infamous Tora Bora incident (where intelligence indicates that Osama bin Laden was there, but the US military was unable to capture him). The Shahikot Valley is a small valley where hundreds of Taliban fighters were hiding. The US military, NATO forces and Afghan fighters prepared a plan to attack the valley from multiple s ...more
Dec 03, 2007 Jeff rated it really liked it
This is a very good book about the specific campaign in Afghanistan and about how the military campaigns in that nation in general were mishandled. The military campaign itself is interesting; the usual courage and determination show through again, as well as the age old struggle between career minded soldiers who want to please the higher ranks and "working" soldiers who want to do the job properly.

The first half of the book is a bit dry and perhaps hard to follow. Mr. Naylor lays out the units
Terry Quirke
Apr 15, 2013 Terry Quirke rated it liked it
I think like a lot of other comments the author does a first rate job of explaining the problems that were involved in the operation, the lack of clear lines of command and communication and in explaining the actions and thoughts of those involved in the fighting. I think like most people I was unaware of most of the things that happened and the bravery of the men involved.

What I didn't like was the authors clear slant against some of the forces involved in the battle, I found it detracted from
Jun 26, 2008 Mark rated it really liked it
The author presents a thorough account of Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan during early 2002. Naylor is obviously well versed in modern military issues and is well connected within the military community and it shows in his book. While security concerns meant that many of the sources he used and participants he interviewed have to remain anonymous the book still carries an authoritative weight not found in other titles about recent military operations.
It is almost unbelievable in this age of j
Wayland Smith
Aug 07, 2014 Wayland Smith rated it really liked it
This is a modern military history about the (most recent) war in Afghanistan. While there is a lot about the bravery of the troops, there is also a lot about the screwups of those in charge. It's a book both inspiring and depressing.

There's a lot of detail, but it's explained out well and doesn't get overwhelming. It's a good view of how modern war is waged (and mis-managed).

Recommended to those interested in military history.
Daniel Flores
Mar 02, 2014 Daniel Flores rated it really liked it
Very good book detailing one perspective of Operation Anaconda. A little long at the beginning on his descriptions of who all the players were that were involved with this operation. The descriptions would later serve to clear up who was responsible for what during the operation. Overall very very good book.
I read this book a month before I was deployed to Afghanistan and I wanted to know as much as possible about the war before I went.
Mar 14, 2014 Layla rated it really liked it
This seemed to be a fairly comprehensive account of the lead up and battles of Operation Anaconda. The first six chapters (roughly) describe the lead up, which is a bit slow and redundant, but needs to be told. I feel like the author did a good job of telling the story, particularly from the army and army SF/SOF angles.
Bookmarks Magazine

Reviewers lauded Naylor's "meticulously reported" account (Oregonian). It includes in-person observations during the operation (Naylor was imbedded with the 101st Airborne Division troops who fought in the battle), and scores of after-the-fact interviews, many with sources who wouldn't allow themselves to be identified. His two-year undertaking to bring those 17 days to life yields an extraordinarily detailed account of the fateful mission. While a few critics felt that some aspects of the book

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Sean D. Naylor, 48, is the author of Relentless Strike: The Secret History of Joint Special Operations Command, to be published in September 2015 by St. Martin’s Press. Since January 2015, he has been the intelligence and counterterrorism correspondent for Foreign Policy magazine. He previously spent 23 years as a senior writer for Army Times, where his principal beat for the last decade of his te ...more
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