A Wall Street Journal national security reporter takes readers into the lives of frontline U.S. special operations troops fighting to keep the Taliban and Islamic State from overthrowing the U.S.-backed government in the final years of the war in Afghanistan.
A FINANCIAL TIMES BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
“Powerful, important, and searing." —General David Petraeus, U.S. Army (ret.), former commander, U.S. Central Command, former CIA director
In 2015, the White House claimed triumphantly that “the longest war in American history” was over. But for some, it was just the beginning of a new war, fought by Special Operations Forces, with limited resources, little governmental oversight, and contradictory orders.
With big picture insight and on-the-ground grit, Jessica Donati shares the stories of the impossible choices these soldiers must make. After the fall of a major city to the Taliban that year, Hutch, a battle-worn Green Beret on his fifth combat tour was ordered on a secret mission to recapture it and inadvertently called in an airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital, killing dozens. Caleb stepped on a bomb during a mission in notorious Sangin. Andy was trapped with his team during a raid with a crashed Black Hawk and no air support.
Through successive policy directives under the Obama and Trump administrations, America came to rely almost entirely on US Special Forces, and without a long-term plan, failed to stabilize Afghanistan, undermining US interests both at home and abroad.
Eagle Down is a riveting account of the heroism, sacrifice, and tragedy experienced by those that fought America’s longest war.
Wall Street Journal reporter Donati debuts with a gritty and well-informed look at the current state of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. After abandoning a plan to withdraw American troops by 2017, President Obama "turned the war over to secretive U.S. Special Operations Forces," Donati writes. She follows several Green Berets units from 2015 to 2020, and reveals how miscommunication and technology issues led one of her profile subjects to authorize the bombing of a hospital, killing dozens of patients and staff members. Throughout, Donati documents Afghan government corruption and the mismanagement of local security forces, and details the high costs borne by U.S. military families. In 2017 and 2018, the Taliban attempted to seize a series of provincial capitals, provoking Afghan and American troop surges. President Trump, like Obama, sought to deliver on his campaign promise to end the war, and, in 2020, reached a deal with the Taliban "to withdraw all U.S. troops and map out a path to reconciliation," though Donati notes that many impediments still stand in the way. Skillfully interweaving big-picture policy analysis with frontline reporting, Donati shines a stark light on this shadowy conflict. The result is a distressing yet vital update on America's longest war.
Captures the essence
I know many of the men written about in this book. The author did a good job capturing who they are. I’d recommend it to friends.
This was a very compelling book to read. It gave me a lot of insights regarding SOF soldiers and the intricate political factors that govern their missions. I was glad to read a book that was accurate without offering embellished war stories.