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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

3.60  ·  Rating details ·  506 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Important Message for Customers
On Friday, August 13, 2010, just as St. Martin’s Press was readying its initial shipment of Operation Dark Heart, the Department of Defense expressed concern that its publication could cause damage to U.S. national security. The publication of the initial edition was canceled. However, after consulting with the author, Lt. Col. Anthony
Hardcover, First Edition (U.S.) (Uncensored), 320 pages
Published August 31st 2010 by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press (first published August 2010)
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Average rating 3.60  · 
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Start your review of Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft And Special Ops On The Frontlines Of Afghanistan- And The Path To Victory
Brian Tibby
Apr 03, 2011 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Aug 24, 2011 rated it did not like it
I had to quit reading this book about one soldier's look at his life and what a great job 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.
Oct 04, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Christopher Taylor
Jun 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
An interesting read. Another example of good people trying to do the right thing and constantly being thwarted by corrupt and self-serving governmental bureaucracies.
Evan Taylor
Jun 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Billbob Spear
Oct 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: military
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
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked 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
Apr 03, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Dave Crisp
Feb 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 30, 2013 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Sep 26, 2014 rated it liked it
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.
Sep 27, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Jun 12, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Jay D
Aug 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Col. Anthony Shaffer's frontline analysis of his experiences in Afghanistan. Spycraft and black ops.
Unable to find first edition so i am reading the redacted version.

* great read. highly recommended for the professional.
Peter Lance
Tony Shaffer's riveting Afghan war memoir which the Pentagon bought and shredded in its first edition
Jan 27, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read into how the US went about ops in Afghanistan. I'd recommend this if the topic is of interest to you.
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.
Kyle J. Merriam
Jun 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Its an awesome book.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Colonel Shaffer does a great job of relating his experience, primarily focused on his time in Afghanistan with the DIA. Most telling, is the example of arrogance, shortsightedness, and hubris inherent in high-level intelligence. This is just one more story by someone on the ground in theater who could clearly see the reality in the region; but, was hampered bureaucratic infighting and politics disconnected with reality.

The story Shaffer tells makes for a very interesting read (even if many
Tracy Canuck
The book was so laid back in parts I wondered why he even wrote it and why I was reading it. He states that they had intelligence that could have prevented the 9/11 attacks 2 years prior to it happening...this has already been reported on.

Much of the book is redacted which seems like a ridiculous editting ploy, but ok.

This guy obviously has an agenda he’s trying to push, i.e. “his version of events”. I get why and I tend to believe some of it. Is the US government that corrupt? Probably. I’m
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the book. Finished it in about 3-4 hours on some plane flights. It gives his first hand account of running sensitive HUMINT operations in Afghanistan and a lot of the front line and behind the scenes beauracray that goes with it. The book was last-minute redacted by the DOD and the blacked out redactions were left in the final published version. It makes the read a little choppy in parts but overall doesn't detract from the story the author is trying to tell. Recommended for anyone ...more
Chris Bartling
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Fast moving, but jumps around a lot with no wrap up to any of the many story lines it is running through the book.
Simon McCrum
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle, 2017
With all the redactions of the text, huge chunks are removed, this book is almost impossible to read.
Jan 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall this is a good first account telling of the late days approaching the 9/11 attacks, and early days of the never-ending ten years of war in Afghanistan. LTC Shaffer wrote this book as someone who is clearly “in the know” in regards to our nation’s efforts to bring security to Afghanistan, deal with Pakistan, and, thus, secure our homeland from another major terrorist attack.

The redaction throughout the book is a real nuance. I can read into many of the omissions the redacting agencies
May 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I at first thought this book was going to be an analysis of America's intelligence operations in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. It is not that kind of book. This is a memoir of the author's time while in Afghanistan as an intelligence operative.

He will outline parts of his personal relationships that at points seem out of place within the context of being an intelligence operative in a war zone. These moments reinforce that this book is a memoir and remind the reader this
Dec 02, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gulf-wars
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
Apr 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
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Anthony Shaffer retired from the U.S. Army as a Lieutenant Colonel in July 2011, after more than 30 years of service. He is a 1986 graduate of Wright State University, where he was awarded a BA in Political Science and Environmental Studies. He is now a Senior Fellow with both the London Center for Policy Research and the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (CADS), and a consultant.