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The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green Berets Forged a New Afghanistan

4.25  ·  Rating Details ·  2,604 Ratings  ·  124 Reviews
Eric Blehm, author of the award-winning The Last Season, is back with another true adventure story, The Only Thing Worth Dying For. Set in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, The Only Thing Worth Dying For chronicles the untold story of the team of Green Berets led by Captain Jason Amerine that conquered the Taliban and helped bring Hamid Karzai to power in Afghanistan. In th ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published January 19th 2010 by Harper (first published January 8th 2010)
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Oct 06, 2013 S. rated it liked it
Falling between the war memoir and the special forces history, THE ONLY THING WORTH DYING FOR covers the infiltration of Hamid Karzai and eleven US Army Special Forces operatives into Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the work suffers from the same handicap as the mission: as everything is political, the soldiers can't engage without an OK from Washington, and much time is spent drinking tea with Kazakhs rather than fighting. And while escorting Karzai is a decent and worthy mission, there's just far ...more
Apr 05, 2011 Troy rated it really liked it
Some striking parallels between this and "Lone Survivor", which I also just finished. Interestingly, this one takes place at the very beginnings of the Afghan war, with really interesting focus on Hamid Karzai before he took the international stage - and is full of optimism. "Lone Survivor" took place later, after the pace and the mission had taken on more form - and was full of pessimism.

Both carry the theme of very capable, diverse and dynamic small teams of elite combat troops being tripped u
Paul Ruiz
Feb 10, 2011 Paul Ruiz rated it really liked it
I haven't had much time to read so I try to be really selective before investing the time. This book will primarily appeal to men, but I suspect many women will also find it an engaging read. Story involves a particular A team that was charged with safeguarding Hamid Karzai enroute to Kandahar during the months after 9/11 when it appeared he would be the moderate voice of a new Afghanistan, who could also unite the many factions in that country. The members of this A team, including a local guy ...more
Daniel Talley
Jan 02, 2017 Daniel Talley rated it it was amazing
Once again it never surprises me to hear of such bravery, valor, courage and humbleness as I read these amazing stories of Americas soldiers and airmen! Just something they do day in and out that we civilians never know about. God bless these men and their families!
An outstanding book highly recommend!
Kyle Sheppard
Eric Blehm's, The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green Berets Forged a New Afghanistan, was written to inform the readers of what military life was like for the special forces fighting in Afghanistan. Blehm's purpose for writing this book was to inform the readers of the sacrifices made by soldiers fighting the War on Terror after the attacks in America on September 11, 2001. This story was based on personal accounts and interviews of the members of the ODA 574 Special Forces "A" Team, w ...more
Diane Samdahl
Apr 23, 2010 Diane Samdahl rated it it was amazing
I picked this book up because Blehm's first book (The Last Season) was so well written. Based on interviews with the men involved, Blehm recounts the story of a Special Forces troop (green berets) who were the first military to infiltrate southern Afghanistan in 2001, protecting then-unknown Hamid Karzai as he rallied the Pashtun to overthrow the Taliban. In spite of my aversion to books and movies about war, I was quickly pulled into this one and sat up late to finish it.
This is not the story
Jan 30, 2015 Tracy rated it really liked it
This book will break your heart for many reasons. One reason is that good men died in a foreign land, wearing the uniforms of the United States. The second reason is that even after all the sacrifices of our soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines, Afghanistan is still battling the Taliban. The third reason is that this book exposes pettiness and in-service fighting on several levels that had disastrous consequences.
However, the book is not all doom and gloom. There were so many instances in this
Jeff Siegel
Jun 04, 2012 Jeff Siegel rated it really liked it

I come away from this book with admiration for some the heroic individuals who conducted themselves with honor and integrity under difficult circumstances; with anger for some of the idiotic decisions made by power hungry senior military commanders (and their efforts to blame others for their mistakes); and with sadness -for those who needlessly lost their lives due to those mistakes-and the individual whose targeting error resulted in a calamitous friendly fire bombing. His ownership over the
Dec 11, 2016 Pete rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military, non-fiction
This is excellent novel that is at times both humorous and tragic. The author did a good job of conveying the importance of communication in these types of missions as well as the dedication of the Green Beret forces.
Bill Mason
Feb 03, 2017 Bill Mason rated it really liked it
Good testimony of the early days of OEF.
Sep 28, 2016 Jimmy rated it it was amazing
This is the story of a US Special Forces team called ODA 574 and their mission in sourthern Afghanistan in the early days of the US invasion after September 11th. The author interviewed the survivors of the team, other military servicemembers who interacted with the team and also poured over official government documents. Most amazing of all is the fact that the author got to interview Hamid Karzai himself, the president of Afghanistan whom at that time was little known. This is the story of the ...more
Feb 09, 2012 Jerome rated it really liked it
This book was pretty good.Very detailed account of an operation I had always wanted to learn more about.
However,Blehm has no military experience, which hampers his storytelling. If you are a deeply read student of the war and Afghan history in general, then Blehm insults your intelligence and forgets that the average reader has probably read similar books and does not need footnotes to explain basic military jargon.
Blehm claims that US soldiers adopted beards as a sign of respect for Afghan cult
Dec 18, 2016 Crystal rated it really liked it
Very sensitively written, details the movements of and tragic friendly fire event which destroyed the small Green Beret unit that accompanied Afghanistan's. Karzai to meet fellow countrymen and receive surrendering Taliban.
Jan 16, 2011 Patrick rated it it was amazing
Not having read T.E. Lawrence myself, I don't know whether the editor of "Valor" magazine was right to call this book "The greatest story of a small unit's battle through an untamed land since 'Lawrence of Arabia.'"

What I am sure of is that Eric Blehm won the trust of the Special Forces A-Team whose mission he chronicles here. Those Green Berets are, among other things, fine judges of character. Blehm tells their story straight, touching on everything the team (ODA 574) thought and did. Blehm's
A good book about the first Special Forces teams in Afghanistan after 9/11 that was pieced together from After Action Reports and interviews with the people in and around the events to include Hamid Karzai himself. This covers the team of Green Berets that were used to actually insert and escort Karzai from Pakistan back into Afghanistan and how they went about stirring up the Guerrilla War in the South. To be honest, the whole thing probably would have turned out better had they been left to th ...more
Neil Kutensky
Sep 24, 2013 Neil Kutensky rated it really liked it
The Only Thing worth Dying for by Eric Blehm is a biography that was published January 19, 2010. This book takes place in Afghanistan as many of the books of this type do. It also has the same vague information about locations as modern military books do. The main location the book talks about is Islamabad. There are many names mentioned in this story, and it is extremely possible that the majority of them are aliases to protect the identities of surviving and currently serving people mentioned. ...more
Stephen Armstrong
Oct 03, 2013 Stephen Armstrong rated it really liked it
Some reviewers are unduly picky about this book (e.g., too much military description of small stuff) and some are wrong (main setting is Islamabad).

I found this book to be thoroughly detailed and well-written. The plot focus is on how a group of highly trained U.S. forces helped install Hamid Karzai as Afghanistan's interim leader prior to its constitutional assembly. The other plot axis is the detailed inner workings of the small group of soldiers who were called to get Karzai from Pakistan to
Apr 12, 2010 Matt rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 17, 2016 Jerry rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read-2016
This not the war story I expected to read but it is very good and engaging. It enlightened me as to how special forces ODAs operate in various environments and that when it comes down to the individuals--the kind of men that become green berets are rough, tough, and unique in about the same ways whether they fought in 2001 or 2016--and are the kind of guys you want on your side when stuff happens.
Stories like this need to be told and perhaps listened to more so, regardless of how hard it can be
Larry Zieminski
Aug 19, 2010 Larry Zieminski rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I didn't know anything about this book before I started reading it. The terrible tragedy that happens to Special Forces team came as a surprise (though it is alluded to a few times in the book). I was moved by this account of the small team of Green Berets who put their training to the test and tried to help take over Afghanistan. It is hard not to read this story with the knowledge we have now (The Taliban weren't completely defeated, Karzai might be corrupt, etc.) Unfortunately that means some ...more
Dec 29, 2013 Brad rated it it was amazing
This was a surprisingly great book. While an extremely detailed look at one of the earliest, and most critical, chapters of US involvement in post-9/11 Afghanistan, it's the kind of detail the average American wants. Blehm does not bog down the story as so many current military authors do by regaling you with the specifications of each and every weapon and tool the Green Berets were using. Instead he tells you just enough to move the narrative along and keep the focus where he wants it--the inte ...more
Nov 21, 2012 Glenda rated it really liked it
Very good story and back ground on the return of Hamid Karzai to Afghanistan. You can't help but be impressed with the heroism of those on the ground - both the American and Afghan troops - that sacrificed to make this happen, and know that they are taking part in something that is historically significant and larger than themselves.

There's quite a bit of detail about the paths the troops took and the people - the maps and photos were great inclusions.

At the same time, the Dilbert principal is
Robert  Garcia
Mar 16, 2012 Robert Garcia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military-stuff
An excellent read. Great details. More and More I become better informed of the men who volunteer and become our nation's best, Army Special Forces. As a Veteran of Army who career was nothing special other than that I served and did my best. These men take everything to another level. Great examples of great teachers and mentors that a young man would be able to look up to. \
The story is very compelling and it felt like Mr. Blehm took us to Afghanistan. I got a real good feel of the dangerous m
Oct 20, 2011 James rated it it was amazing
Another little known story about some heroic US Military personnel. If you want to know more about Karzai the current Afghan president and how he got into office you should read this book. This book will leave you amazed at the courage and toughness of the men and women that serve this country but it will also leave you frustrated with the bureaucracy that tends to get in the way of them getting their job done. This book highlights another tragic accident that might have been avoided had protoco ...more
Feb 02, 2010 Dave rated it liked it
An interesting look at the invasion of Afghanistan from the perspective of U.S. Special Forces. Unsurprisingly, complaints are made against the Pentagon and civilian military leadership who insisted on fighting a conventional war in an unconventional setting. While the broader story is interesting, the writing falls a bit flat in bringing characters to life and narrating a cohesive tale. The unexpected bonus was the portrayal of Hamid Karzai and how he quickly he rose to power despite having vir ...more
Casey Kelley
Sep 30, 2013 Casey Kelley rated it really liked it
I cried so much in the airport reading this people asked me what was wrong. It's a true story and the ending is absolutely devastating.

That being said, the beginning of the book shed light on a different view of Karzai than I had ever heard (I'm relatively young and the war started when I was in 8th grade). It begs the question - how much foresight can you actually have? It's an appropriate read as the war comes to a close in 2014.

Also, sometimes war books just don't do it for me. Strategy can
Jun 28, 2016 Matthew rated it it was amazing
Eric Blehm captures both a reading audience, and an author audience. That's how fantastic his writing is.

In this title he captures the story of US Army Special Forces ODA 574, a unit of men that recaptured nearly all of Southern Afghanistan with some of the smartest combat strategy displayed in a hundred plus years.

The unfortunate ending of these men tells us a lot about pride, ego, and many of those classic debates we read in fiction. Only in this title, it is oh so real, and oh so defeating.

Daniel Nelson
Jan 31, 2011 Daniel Nelson rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics, history, culture
One of the books you should read if you have any interest in understanding the U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. The book follows the trail of 11 Green Berets and their efforts to overthrow the Taliban shortly after the attacks of September 11, 2001. I once read something that my Uncle, a Vietnam veteran, wrote that accurately illustrates the theme of this book. He stated that nobody can know the tole of war on a solider - the impact on the physical body, the mind and the soul of a man. This book ...more
Feb 10, 2015 Scotty rated it really liked it
I served in the U.S. Army from 1988 to 1992. During my time in service, I was stationed with Dan Petithory (a member of ODA 574). Dan was a terrific man and was almost my brother-in-law at one point. I still miss him and hope to see him again one day. This book gives an account of a Special Forces team (ODA 574) in the Battle of Tarwin Kowt and the horrifying and tragic loss of many members of the team, due to an arrant bomb. Eric Blehm does a great job at connecting the reader to the "non-robot ...more
Oct 16, 2015 Andresmaturen rated it really liked it
Teh book follows the infiltration of Hamid Karzai and eleven US Army Special Forces operatives into Afghanistan being the first men to invade in the south of the country near Kandahar.
Nevertheless, the main point is about how everything is Political > Even in the best of organizations burocracy gets in the way.... In the military this leads to death and destruction. Awesome recall on how being with the "guy in field" gives you much more perspective, but you have to be looking for it as Amerin
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