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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

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  1,662 ratings  ·  85 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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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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Justin Walters
An amazing story. If you are interested at all in the early actions of Operation Enduring Freedom and what our men in uniform had to go through to achieve victory, you need to read this book. The story follows ODA 574 into Southern Afghanistan as they support a little known tribal leader at the time, Hamid Karzai. It chronicles their near superhuman feat in toppling the Taliban in their last remaining stronghold of Kandahar. This story had me finishing the last pages in tears.
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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
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
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
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.
One of the major things I pulled from this book is that "Mad dog" Mattis is a dick.... Most people canonize the General, but the so-called hard charger could help out fellow Americans in need in a war zone
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
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.
Fantastic book that gives wonderful insight into what our military troops go through while trying to fight a war. Should be required reading.
Great story of the special forces and their interaction with high-ranking people from Afghanistan and the bond they formed.
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
What a tragic ending to a great team of men, one that should have been avoided. Just goes to show you that when you do not follow established protocol things go wrong. People took over when it should have been left to the original team - they where pushed out due to Rank and 50+ deaths could have been avoided. Certainty a sad day for the team and the families. The team in very short time, made a huge difference and touched many lives as well as shaped the future of a country.
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.
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