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

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  1,246 ratings  ·  77 reviews
On a moonless night just weeks after September 11, 2001, a U.S. Special Forces team of Green Berets known as ODA 574 infiltrated the mountains of southern Afghanistan with a seemingly impossible mission: to foment a tribal revolt and force the Taliban to surrender. Armed solely with the equipment they could carry on their backs, shockingly scant intelligence, and their mas...more
Paperback, 424 pages
Published January 4th 2011 by Harper Perennial (first published January 8th 2010)
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Troy
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...more
Paul Ruiz
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
Diane Samdahl
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...more
Jeff Siegel


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...more
Jerome
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...more
Patrick
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...more
Neil Kutensky
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
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...more
Matt
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brad
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
Glenda
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...more
Larry Zieminski
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
Michael
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 l...more
Robert T.  Garcia
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...more
Don Weidinger
Taliban started to combat crime and corruption, elite and elitists, daily prayer of parents, Pakistan Taliban rather die, AF and Seals to rescue, first democratically elected Afghan President Karzai, look what they sacrificed some of the bravest men I have ever met.
Casey Kelley
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...more
Mike
Read this a while ago and really enjoyed the narrative of this special forces A-detachment. Great job by the author to capture the emotion and attachment that develops on a team.
Jessica
Fantastic book that gives wonderful insight into what our military troops go through while trying to fight a war. Should be required reading.
James
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
Daniel Nelson
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
Chris Ross
An excellent book that is well written and well told. I was shocked to learn that Amerine's men were killed as the result of fratricide. From reading the back cover and the insides leaves the reader knows not all of ODA 574 do not return home from this mission. I was expecting them to be killed by Taliban in an epic battle or firefight near Kandahar given all of the Taliban in the area. It came as a shock and a punch to the gut to learn that they were killed by a JDAM dropped by a B1 bomber at 4...more
Dave
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
Steve
I haven't read many books on the subject out of fear of themes of gung-ho, patriotic, self-aggrandizement, but I am glad I read this one; it was anything but those things. In particular, the narration strikes some really good visuals and gives some interesting insights into Karzai's re-insertion into Afghanistan. The final scenes are anything but favorable to the vast U.S. war machine given how much this unit went in and hung themselves out there for it's government. What a shame.
Bill Brown sr.
Great story of valor by the Green Berets.
Charis
I had high hopes for this book, having enjoyed Horse Soldiers and the mostly untold stories of the early Afghan campaign. Unfortunately, this version is poorly written, insults your intelligence, and, I think, forgets that the average reader probably has read similar books and does not need a footnote every page to explain basic military jargon.

While a sad story with many lessons learned, probably didn't need an entire book to tell it.
Tyler Bray
A great and meaningful book, Eric does a really good job of taking the true story and make you feel as if you are reading fiction. It is important to consider that the men in the story are just ordinary men who do the extraordinary to help those no one will help. This book is also filled with the tragedies of war and has reminded me that progress within war is never what it seems yet every life given is never in vain.
Judy
I learnt more than I wanted to know about the machinations of this American invasion. I needed the military jargon, the footnotes and I appreciated that the author laid out everyone's story and perspective without too much commentary so the reader could make their own judgement about the events. The writing and character development was very spare because of this almost journalistic approach, but it worked for me.
Emily
There was only one part where I felt the drag coming on. However, when Blehm sticks with the main characters the book is great.
The companionship, passion, determination and respect is fruitful in this novel.

A group of men brought together, in a naked war, continue to fight for 'the only thing worth dying for'.
Great concept. Blehm does a good job at attaching to the characters.
Becky
Very well written book. Describes the events leading up to and including December 5, 2001. Dan Petithory was from Cheshire, MA and this became very hard to read towards the end but it was very well written and a book that everyone who knew him should read! It is amazing the things that these men went through that are never brought to light and how much they sacrificed.
T.
I have been hooked on Special Ops books lately so I'm reading anything I find. This one was a good find. Not to give it away but the ending was not at all what I expect as I read it. It gives you a good inside look at what a Special Ops team goes through and how much power they have. If you don't know the story read this book and be surprised.
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