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Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  3,137 ratings  ·  313 reviews
From the New York Times bestselling author of In Harm's Way comes a true-life story of American soldiers overcoming great odds to achieve a stunning military victory.

Horse Soldiers is the dramatic account of a small band of Special Forces soldiers who secretly entered Afghanistan following 9/11 and rode to war on horses against the Taliban. Outnumbered forty to one, they p
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Hardcover, 393 pages
Published May 5th 2009 by Scribner (first published January 1st 2009)
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Lone Survivor by Marcus LuttrellBlack Hawk Down by Mark BowdenNo Easy Day by Mark OwenBravo Two Zero by Andy McNabAmerican Sniper by Chris Kyle
Best Books on Special Forces Missions
9th out of 67 books — 171 voters
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Best Non-fiction War Books
73rd out of 835 books — 1,064 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”I asked for a few Americans,” said General Abdul Rashid Dostum. “they brought with them the courage of a whole army.”

 photo HorseSoldiers_zps8d9997de.jpg
The Famous Horse Soldiers of Afghanistan.

Dostum was ruling Northern Afghanistan when the Taliban captured Masar-i-Sharif in 1998 and blew up the ancient Buddhas that had watched over the town for centuries. ”What man had the right to write the future by blowing up the past?” The Taliban wanted a pure state, a return to a brand of Islam that is true to their interpreted beliefs o
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Terri
Fantastic. Utterly fantastic. Books like this rarely come along - the books that should exceed the 5 star Goodreads rating system. To me, Horse Soldiers, by far and away, is one of those books.
The story in itself is astounding. That a group of Special Forces guys would be dropped into Afghanistan with the express intention of assisting the Northern Alliance by calling in bombs on targets. So yes, that story in itself is fascinating, and inspirational, but you then have to add into the equation t
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Carmaletta Hilton
This book was a difficult read. At times, I felt like I was trudging through a high school or college text book with the information piling on top of me until I couldn't breathe. Other times, however, I felt like I was in the middle of a story with a real narrative that pulled me along. Obviously, the narrative parts were easier to read, but at the same time, they gave me pause and made me stop. I found myself actually reading it like this was a story, some kind of historical fiction, which led ...more
Mike
"Hah!" he (Dostum) chortled into the radio, talking to the Taliban soldiers. The Americans think so little of you they have sent a woman to kill you!...I will call her the 'Angel of Death'"...The Taliban were apoplectic." This occurs near Konduz after an AC-130 Spectre gunship with a female crewmember is overheard on the radio. I loved that psychological warfare.

Ok, this is an important book on the start of the Afghan campaign. Amazing inventiveness, courage and endurance by the SOF teams called
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Spencer
This was a fascinating book that left me with two takeaway points. (1) Afghanistan is one of the most incredibly complex, dangerous, nuanced, barren, afflicted, difficult places on earth. It is hard for Americans, who live with such far-reaching freedom and ridiculous affluence, to even imagine that a place like this exists. Unless, of course, you are one of the brave and dedicated members of our armed forces (like those in this book) who have spent time fighting there. (2) The best way to fight ...more
Natalie
Dec 13, 2011 Natalie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: war
These men who truly did accomplish something extraordinary, their families, the backdrop of current events, and the way time waits for no-one are all presented with great respect and care.

In the midst of it all, and in the aftermath we've just lived through, babies are born, men die, soldiers once victorious are re-deployed and face danger again and again while their families wait, men ready themselves to fight another day, others attempt to gather enough money or power or support to make their
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Billbob Spear
Having read Sebastian Junger's WAR, I was hungry for more Afghan information. This book is another must read for those who are trying to understand what we are really involved in in Afghanistan. Doug Stanton explains what it was like to be among the 50 Special Forces men who won the initial war in Afghanistan by bringing in hi-tech techniques to assist the horse soldiers of the Northern Alliance in defeating 50,000 Taliban fighters. Now we are back and are losses are going up.

War (SJunger) weak
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Mike
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. casu ...more
charlie
A lot of reporting about our military's activities over the last few years has been about the scandals of poor civilian planning, under resourcing and many shameful tales of horrific moral judgement. It's important to read periodically a book which conveys the other side of our military - the skills, determination, courage and dedication of the guys on the ground.

At the same time, its hard to separate your admiration for the characters and their story in this book versus the book itself. I could
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Bill
Special Forces lead the way... This was interesting to see how effectively a well trained group of men adequately supported by airpower can turn the tide of a conflict. Great insight into the shadow warriors. The section on the errant bomb during the battle for Qala-i-Jangi was especially moving. Knowing how easily things can go wrong in a conflict, I was surprised that the operations of TF Dagger did not receive more casualties. I appreciate the sacrifice of these soldiers and their Northern Al ...more
Jay
Interesting battle descriptions of horse cavalry in the mountains of Afghanistan and the battle at fortress Qala-i-Janghi. The description is soldier level – Stanton quotes the soldiers during the battles. While the reader will feel part of the action, you realize that some of this narrative must have been constructed by the author. I listened to the abridged version of this book on 6 CDs. I read some other reviews about the book that denigrate the long descriptive passages – these have mostly b ...more
Paul Pessolano
In the aftemath of the tragedy of 9/11, a Special Forces team was sent into Afghanistan to help overthrow the oppressive Taliban.

This was a small group that went in under total secrecy. Its hard to believe but only a very few top ranking military and political people knew of their incursion. Their families, although they were used to secrecy, were told nothing other than they were going on a mission.

The mission was highly unusual in that the Special Forces were to work with the many Afghan war l
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Elisif
This was a very interesting book, and a very satisfying read. Better than other military books I've read because it is written by a journalist who did LOTS of interviews, including Afghanis. I was hoping this would be a horse book as well as a military book, but not so much a horse book. Yes, they do ride horses, and that is significant in that modern warfare is not usually fought from horseback, but there isn't much else about the horses themselves. But it was a very interesting book about how ...more
Gary Brecht
At first glance the title conjures images of mid-nineteenth century cavalry chasing bands of Native Americans across the western plains. Quite to the contrary, one discovers this is the true story of American Special Forces inserted in Afghanistan immediately after the events of 9/11. Their mission was to assist a loose coalition of Afghani warlords, known as the Northern Alliance, in recapturing key territory conquered by the Taliban, and to locate and bring to justice the Terrorist, Osama Bin ...more
Tim
A birthday book! One that once started, had to be finished. It is the story of the first three months after September 11, 2001, when Osama bin laden was identified as the overall ideological leader of the strike, the Afghanistan Taliban refusing the US request/demand for his capture and handover(indeed he was made an honorary Afghan citizen by the Taliban government sometime in October or November, 2001), and when a war began.

A military book, it describes the details of how US special forces sol
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Jerome
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James
'It was OK' is really the best I can do.

The characters were too numerous to follow a narrative, the details too sound-byte-ish to follow the procedural.

But perhaps the worst infraction that a flash-in-the-pan, not-intended-to-be-on-bookstore-shelves-two-years-from-now book, can commit: it was easy to put down. Easy to set aside, easy to get distracted from.

That said, I give it an 'OK' and not something worse, because it did have it's interesting bits. Not the writing, and not enough, but the sto
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Russ
I don't know as much as I should about the war in Afghanistan, which is one of the reasons I read this book. It's not a broad historical perspective on the conflict, but rather a close look at the initial Special Forces and CIA actions in Afghanistan. It follows multiple soldiers and is, at first, a little overwhelming. I had difficulty remembering who all of the men were. Stanton hits his stride after a couple of chapters, though, and the story becomes very compelling as it incorporates Norther ...more
Jacqui
What an amazing untold story of the American Special Forces in Afghanistan following 9/11. They were welcomed as liberators. People lined the streets thanking this small band of Americans for freeing them from Taliban rule.

How'd they do it? Riding horses shoulder-to-shoulder with the indigenous Northern Alliance soldiers, using Civil War strategies for mounted attacks. They worked with the embedded Afghani soldiers. They considered their wisdom and experience. They fought with them in the mount
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Alden Mackie
This book could have been covering the most interesting story ever told, held the secret to life itself and it wouldn't mean a thing. It was horribly written. 100 pages into the book and the main characters still haven't stepped foot on Afghanistan soil. There is so much mundane detail about every single person introduced in the story (whether or not they are an important person to the plot or not) that it bogs down over and over again. Every time the book seems to be picking up another person g ...more
Bernie Charbonneau
I picked this book up at my local library because it was on the new books shelf and I'm glad I did. This book recalls the gallant bravery of a small band of Special Forces soldiers who on short notice where sent to Afghanistan to avenge the attack on the twin towers on 9/11. A great read that doesn't get bogged down with all sorts technical jargon that you will not remember in a few days. It actually tells the story of these brave men and what they had to deal with not knowing the culture that t ...more
Olethros
-De cómo ganar una guerra desde planteamientos asimétricos, que no de cómo terminarla.-

Género. Novela.

Lo que nos cuenta. Relato novelado, desde una perspectiva muy periodística, de cómo se desmembró el control talibán de Afganistán mediante la acción de unos agentes de campo de la CIA, un puñado de miembros de las Fuerzas Especiales estadounidenses, alta tecnología de gran poder de destrucción desde el aire y muchos afganos de la Alianza del Norte contrarios al régimen.

¿Quiere saber más del libr
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Michael Alexander Henke
A great account of the Special Forces soldiers who went into Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks. It was really interesting to read, here's these highly trained soldiers, carrying M-4 Carbines, satellite phones, and laser designators for precision bomb strikes, and they're riding into battle on horses, like the cavalry of old. It also goes into some detail about how terrible the Taliban truly were and how happy the locals were when the Americans first showed up to liberate them. Plenty of action, ...more
Jean
I learned a lot from this book that describes our first iniatives in Afghanistan by an amazingly small group of Special Forces soldiers after 9/11. The book is a little scattered, not strictly sequential, and in the authors' hope not to exclude anyone, it contained mentions of too many soldiers whose part in the story line were relatively minor. I found that a bit difficult but overall this is a timely read. It did give me a better understanding of our current situation in Afghanistan and of the ...more
Anne
An amazing story of launching a modern-day war in a 19th century environment - after 9/11, an elite group of US forces is dropped into Afghanistan with high tech weapons. Riding on horseback and working with warring factions, the Special Forces are close to victory when they are recalled before completing their mission. I learned a great deal about the post-9/11 military approaches and the brave men and women who were on the front line of the initial response. Reads like fiction- I was engrossed ...more
Becca
This is a fantastic book... and really made me proud of our Special Forces soldiers who were the first US troops on the ground after 9/11. I had no idea that they persevered through such intense battles and harsh conditions. It was also depressing to come to the end and reflect on Afghanistan and our progress there. The author shares the view that the war in Iraq took away from our efforts in Afghanistan, and I feel so sad for the people in Afghanistan who remain under the Taliban's oppression s ...more
J
BEWARE of spoilers. (Or is that possible when commenting on a piece of non-fiction?)

OK, I have to admit at the outset, that I didn't read the whole book. Knowing the good proximate (short-term) outcome of the events covered in the book, I called it a day after I felt I had absorbed the flavor of the challenge at hand and the teamwork that achieved the goal.

I got bogged down in the military minutiae of the covert campaign -- unlike military history fans, I don't get stoked by types of weapons or
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Leo
Gives an account of how we got into the Afgan war. With a hand full of 5th Brigade, Special Forces Soldiers,most of them veterans over 30 years of age, we worked with the Afgans to defeat the Taliban and AlQaida. Nevertheless, we abandoned that front and went to war in Iraq. Most of those were killed in Iraq and are now resting in Arlington. Now we are back to the Afgan war which is spreading and we have over 60,000 soldiers and they want to send more.
WHEN WILL WILL WE REST FROM WARS??
Amy
What you learn in your experiences is as important as the experience itself.
"What struck me in my research was learning the degree to which violence had often been a third or fourth choice in resolving conflict. Indeed, some men in this book never fired a weapon, even when doing so would have put an "end" to the problem. Instead, the crisis of a particular moment was fixed by crouching in the dirt with a stick, opposite the "opponent", and scratching out a solution. This method, though time-inte
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Neil McCrea
Non-fiction that reads as if the ghost of Rudyard Kipling were writing about the current conflict in Afghanistan.

The book does an excellent job of putting a human face on US special forces, Afghan civilians, the Northern Alliance, and the Taliban. Readers of all political stripes have much to gain from this account.
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Doug Stanton lives in Traverse City, Michigan, and has worked as a creative writing and English teacher at college level, and at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan as writer-in-residence.

He has also worked as a commercial fisherman, and caretaker of Robert Frost's house in Vermont. He has travelled extensively as a contributing editor for Esquire, Men's Journal and Outside magazines, writing tr
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More about Doug Stanton...
In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors Secret Life of the American Male Wild Stories: The Best of Men's Journal

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