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Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan -- and The Path to Victory
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Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan -- and The Path to Victory

3.38 of 5 stars 3.38  ·  rating details  ·  252 ratings  ·  40 reviews
On Friday, August 13, 2010, just as St. Martin’s Press was readying its initial shipment of this book, the Department of Defense contacted us to express its concern that our publication of Operation Dark Heart could cause damage to U.S. national security.After consulting with our author, we agreed to incorporate some of the government’s changes into a revised edition of hi ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published September 24th 2010 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published August 2010)
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Brian Tibby
This is a deeply flawed book that doesn't know what it wants to be. There is some interesting sections, mostly about Able Danger, but there's a lot that doesn't need to be in there, especially the personal life info. If you're looking for an overview of the tactical situation in Afghanistan in 2004 that wasn't released until six years later, this might just be the book for you! Otherwise, there are far better books about Afghanistan. Highly recommend skipping the last section on how to win in Af ...more
I had to quit reading this book about one soldier's look at his life and what a great jod he did to save - what ever. I just could not take any more of his "I'm the best thing here in Afghanistan" and you better do it my way or no way at all. I got to page 88 and that is all I could take of this guy.
Jeff Erno
9500 copies of this book were burned by the United States military. I guess I'm going to have to read it.
Evan Taylor
Lt.Col.Anthony Shaffer, Operation Dark Heart, Thomas Dunne Books, St.Martins Press NY, 2010, 289 pages.

The book follows Col Shaffer and his mission in fighting the Taliban. He is part of a secret Black Ops unit(they call themselves the Jedi Knights) and they are not bound by normal Govt.Regulations. They do well in their fight against the Taliban until the top brass get in their way, implementing totally flawed and ridiculous policies(things we see today). the Col and his team have no operating
Christopher Taylor
Let's give the Colonel some slack here. I liked the book, full well knowing how governmental agencies work at different levels. I appreciate living in a country where truth still eventually can be told even when censored. If you want a rough idea how it works even in the dark you should read this book.
Dave Crisp
You can get past the redacted parts, though I agree at times it's tempting to imagine what was redacted and wonder why something that was probably innocuous was cut - did the publisher do it to improve sales or, more likely, did the government do it to try to discourage readers? You can be put off by the ego that shows all the way through, though there is lots of honesty showing, too, and you probably have to have a pretty strong self to do what he did and get where he got. What rates highest in ...more
Billbob Spear
I read War, then Horse Soldiers. War covers the now of Afghanistan by a world class writer. Horse Soldiers cover the Special Forces who first went to Afghanistan, fought in support of the Northern Alliance and essentially expelled the Taliban in two months with just 50 of our men. Op Dark Heart is the in between time when we restarted fighting the back again Taliban. It too is written by a not the best writing but is a real story that exposes the raw unpleasant story of how our ...more
I may feel better about this book now that I understand the background a little bit more. I try to read the reviews after I read a book when I can.

Frankly I found all the blacked out sections of the book pretty annoying. Given what was likely blacked out, it felt like it was done more as a ploy or gimmick. Now I understand the DOD confiscated the majority of the book's first run,(which I assume included the blacked out sections) and destroyed them. This makes this read more interesting.(It need
Would have probably given 4* if I had read the un-redacted version. Unfortunate that DIA has such an axe to grind with the author. That fact in and of itself should make you want to read this. That doesn't even take into account a very concise and firsthand description of operation Able Danger, and how the US anticipated and could have prevented the 9/11 attacks if not for bureaucracy and political infighting. Struggle through the redaction; it's worth it.
The blacked out words, phrases, and paragraphs are frustrating to be certain. Particularly, since, as you get further and further into the book, you wonder if it was really necessary to censor certain areas of information. Shaffer was in intelligence himself, he would know what is DE-classified, and what isn't. As well as what he can and cannot say. I fully plan on getting the second edition to compare and see what has been done in regards to the blacked out sections.
That aside, I overall reall
Oct 23, 2010 Kim rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Not even my worst enemy
Only a couple chapters in and have read enough to know NOT to recommend it to even my worst enemy. It's poorly written and does not flow well. Even if passages weren't blacked out, the flow wouldn't improve any. The author is full of himself. He just oozes pretentiousness and overestimates his importance in the events he attempts to describe.

It's a good book for reading in the bathroom, however. If you run out of TP, you can just rip pages out of the book and use them.

Addendum: Shaffer has a hab
Into page 118 out of 289, and what can I say about this gut wrenching, two fisted action adventure made for Lifetime TV movie that hasn't already been said by thousands of devotees before. I know lets use the authors own words. "How would you like a foot massage?" I asked. "I'm sure that would help" - knowing that any such act would still require some privacy..........."No I'd Really like a full-body massage instead." Her smile was now a grin.........AND it keeps getting better. For example, Dav ...more
Shaffer describes in no uncertain terms the difficulties and challenges the US Government and US Military faces in working to stabalize Afghanistan and fight against al-Qaeda and the Taliban. These challenges are not only external but include the internal bureaucracy that often works to prevent the most effective individuals and most effective programs from succeeding due to turf wars, constant changes made to senior leadership, and unclear goals and objectives. This is a fascinating read into t ...more
David Griffin
It was pretty interesting but the redaction was often too much and rendered some of the chapters completely pointless. For example in the chapter called "The Interrogation" anything of any relevance was redacted so when the prisoner finally admitted to what he knew it was all blacked out so it added nothing to the book and the story! Finally the author uses an analogy of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland as Afghanistan and Pakistan that was quite literally astonishing in its ignorance ...more
Lt Col Anthony Shaffer paints a maddening vision of fighting the both the Cold War and war on terror in his over 30 years of experience. By his own admission, he is no saint and the reader should take into account the controversy surrounding the publication of this book (which was heavily censored by the Pentagon). The finished product reads like a redacted document and although ultimately frustrating and incomplete, it is still worth your time, in gaining insight of how the art and science of i ...more
Stephanie Frieze
He has an ax to grind and that is obvious. Also, enjoys saying how awesome he is most of the time. However in order to do or be in that kind of position I would assume those traits make you successful. I was looking for more insight into how the Taliban work and think and didn't get too much of it. The relationship with the lady soldier was just weird and took away from the heart of the story.
A decent read and is enlighting toward what was working and wasn't. However, the redactions were very distracting. If you are up and well read in Special Ops and Intelligence oeprations you can decipher some of them but for the most part entire half pages are blocked out. I do see value and agree with his recommendations for handling the war in Afghanistan in the wrap up chapter.
Linda Phillips
WOW! Blown away by the honesty of this book - even if huge portions were blacked out. . . every aspect in life has the people who will fight for you, with you, or against you for their glory - sadly it is true. Awful to read about how it happen to someone who serves Our Country. I am sure his is not the only story. Great front line view of life in Afghanistan
The purpose of the book is awesome and great for citizens to know. Americans should really understand the politics that go on behind closed doors. My compliant: too many acronyms (index is provided) and so much is blacked out due to sensitive issues its hard to stay on track at times.

Overall-I'm glad I stuck with it!
I've read books by CIA and special forces who were in Afghanistan. This book is new because it's told from the DIA point of view. It rings true to me in the way that arbitrary and petty decisions that higher ups made based on their own egos greatly impacted the way the war was fought on the ground.
Unfortunately, the author really missed the real story of the book and spends too much time on random operations and subjects. The book should've been about his knowledge of Able Danger and the consequences of sharing this information with investigators, but this is just a sub-plot in the book.
Mark Cichonski
This story tells of the hunt for Bin Laden back a few years. Clearly these guys set the foundation for the successful operation that just took place. This is a lot of work done by unsung heroes. I hope he makes a killing on this book. Great story, easy to read and exciting!
Susan Noel
The censored areas were irritating, but still an absorbing book.
Col Shaffer wrote a great book; there were individuals named in the book whom I wanted to kick in the shins for not listening. The arrogance of some people cannot be overstated.
9/11 might not have happened.
The book has been redacted by the DOD (Department of Defense) for being harmful to National Security. As such, there are entire paragraphs that are blacked out, making this a very painful read. I could only get about 30 pages into the book before I just had to give up.
Oct 05, 2010 Alicia marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Have to read this book after finding out that the U.S. Department of Defense purchased the entire first run with the understanding that the publisher would destroy all copies. Utne Reader called it "munificent censorship"; I'm calling foul.
Interesting book about his experiences in Army intelligence and serving in the war in Afghanistan. I was surprised how the different branches of the armed services hoarded intelligence and distrusted the other branches of the military/CIA.
This book was a little dry. While it had some interesting developments about Sept. 11, it was more of a book to skim through. I also didn't like the face that a lot of the text was blacked out due to censorship.
Jay D
Col. Anthony Shaffer's frontline analysis of his experiences in Afghanistan. Spycraft and black ops.
Steven Kirk
This was an interesting book but I would like to have read the original version though. It is a good look into what goes on behind the scenes and details the parts you never really hear about.
An interesting read into how the US went about ops in Afghanistan. I'd recommend this if the topic is of interest to you.
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