“A thrilling action ride of a book” (The New York Times Book Review)—from Jerry Bruckheimer in theaters everywhere January 19, 2018—the New York Times bestselling, true-life account of a US Special Forces team deployed to dangerous, war-ridden Afghanistan in the weeks following 9/11.
Previously published as Horse Soldiers, 12 Strong is the dramatic account of a small band of Special Forces soldiers who secretly entered Afghanistan following 9/11 and rode to war on horses against the Taliban. Outnumbered forty to one, they pursued the enemy army across the mountainous Afghanistan terrain and, after a series of intense battles, captured the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. The bone-weary American soldiers were welcomed as liberators as they rode into the city. Then the action took a wholly unexpected turn.
During a surrender of six hundred Taliban troops, the Horse Soldiers were ambushed by the would-be POWs. Dangerously overpowered, they fought for their lives in the city’s immense fortress, Qala-i-Janghi, or the House of War. At risk were the military gains of the entire campaign: if the soldiers perished or were captured, the entire effort to outmaneuver the Taliban was likely doomed.
“A riveting story of the brave and resourceful American warriors who rode into Afghanistan after 9/11 and waged war against Al Qaeda” (Tom Brokaw), Doug Stanton’s account touches the mythic. The soldiers on horses combined ancient strategies of cavalry warfare with twenty-first-century aerial bombardment technology to perform a seemingly impossible feat. Moreover, their careful effort to win the hearts of local townspeople proved a valuable lesson for America’s ongoing efforts in Afghanistan. With “spellbinding...action packed prose...The book reads more like a novel than a military history...the Horse Soldier’s secret mission remains the US military’s finest moment in what has since arguably been a muddled war” (USA TODAY).
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
There’s both horror and heroism in Doug Stanton’s book, which tracks the early days of the U.S. war in Afghanistan, when American forces comprised a handful of men on horseback riding into “the crosshairs of history.” This was how the war was initially envisioned: small bands of Special Forces soldiers working with the Northern Alliance and demonstrating, it was hoped, the American gift for light-footed improvisation. But the war would soon become something else, and Stanton provides both an adventure story and, between the lines, a eulogy for an idea that got buried somewhere in the rubble of Mazar-i-Sharif.
In this absolutely riveting account, full of horror and raw courage, journalist Stanton (In Harm's Way) recreates the miseries and triumphs of specially trained mounted U.S. soldiers, deployed in the war-ravaged Afghanistan mountains to fight alongside the Northern Alliance-thousands of rag-tag Afghans who fought themselves to exhaustion or death-against the Taliban. The U.S. contingent, almost to a man, had never ridden horses-especially not these "shaggy and thin-legged, and short... descendents of the beasts Genghis Khan had ridden out of Uzbekistan"-but that was not the only obstacle: rattling helicopters, outdated maps, questionable air support and insufficient food also played their parts. Stanton brings each soldier and situation to vivid life: "Bennett suddenly belted out: 'It just keeps getting better and better!' Here they were, living on fried sheep and filtered ditchwater...calling in ops-guided bombs on bunkers built of mud and wood scrap, surrounded by Taliban fighters." In less than three months, this handful of troops secured a city in which a fort had been taken over by Taliban prisoners, a tangle of firefights and mayhem that became a seminal battle and, in Stanton's prose, a considerable epic: "Dead and dying men and wounded horses had littered the courtyard, a twitching choir that brayed and moaned in the rough, knee-high grass."
Customer ReviewsSee All
Awesome book. Don’t waste your time on the movie. From the previews I can tell that the movie is almost completely fabricated and nothing like the amazing true story told in this book. Hollywood once again took a great non-fiction book and totally turned it into a fictional movie that has only marginal similarities to reality.
Too few chapters in the book, stories just ran together and it’s hard to keep up with what’s going on. One of the few times I’m looking forward to watching the movie even though I know there’s not going to be the detail there was in the book. I just feel the story will flow better
Why the story of the Horse Soldiers has not become a multi part HBO series like Generation Kill or Band of Brothers is beyond me. The story, in it of itself brilliant, has been incredibly well researched and reconstructed by Stanton.
My only complaint is the focus on the Western media leading up to and following the capture of Mazar-i-Sharif (when Green Berets, British SBS commandos, and Northern Alliance Afghans are fighting for their lives, why would anyone care about some reporter trying to get into the city? Bloody stupid...). Other than that, as I said, fantastic book, one that will likely always be on my book shelf.