THE ONLY THING
WORTH DYING FOR
How Eleven Green Berets Forged
a New Afghanistan
BY ERIC BLEHM
Eric Blehm, author of the award-winning The Last Season, is back with another true adventure story, The Only Thing Worth Dying For. Set in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, The Only Thing Worth Dying For chronicles the untold story of the team of Green Berets that conquered the Taliban and helped bring Hamid Karzai to power in Afghanistan. In the tradition of Black Hawk Down, The Only Thing Worth Dying For is, in the words of former Congressman Charlie Wilson (from Charlie Wilson’s War), “the one book you must read if you have any hope of understanding what our fine American soldiers are up against in Afghanistan.”
On a moonless night just weeks after September 11, 2001, U.S. Special Forces team ODA 574 infiltrates 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 can carry on their backs, shockingly scant intelligence, and their mastery of guerrilla warfare, Captain Jason Amerine and his men have no choice but to trust their only ally, a little-known Pashtun statesman named Hamid Karzai who has returned from exile and is being hunted by the Taliban as he travels the countryside raising a militia.
The Only Thing Worth Dying For chronicles the most important mission in the early days of the Global War on Terror, when the men on the ground knew little about the enemy—and their commanders in Washington knew even less. With unprecedented access to surviving members of ODA 574, key war planners, and Karzai himself, award-winning author Eric Blehm cuts through the noise of politicians and high-level military officials to narrate for the first time a story of uncommon bravery and terrible sacrifice, intimately exposing the realities of unconventional warfare and nation-building in Afghanistan that continue to shape the region today.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Eric Blehm is a bestselling author and award-winning journalist. Winner of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award (2006) for The Last Season, a gripping account of the disappearance of legendary National Park Service ranger Randy Morgenson, Blehm has distinguished himself as one of America’s most important new nonfiction writers. In 2009, The Last Season was named by Outside magazine as one of the ten “greatest adventure biographies ever written.” Blehm’s latest book, The Only Thing Worth Dying For (HarperCollins, January 2010), has been hailed by former congressman Charlie Wilson, of Charlie Wilson’s War, as a “must read” among books about the current war in Afghanistan.
In 1999, Blehm broke ground as the first journalist to accompany and keep pace with an elite Army Ranger unit on a training mission. His access into the Special Operations community and reportage set an important milestone for American war journalism two years before reporters began to gain widespread embedded status with the U.S. military in the War Against Terror. His coverage of the Ranger training, along with a reputation for following stories to remote and/or risky environments—snowboarding the rugged mountains of Iran, stalking native golden trout through California’s High Sierra backcountry, retracing lost miners’ routes in the deserts of Death Valley, jumping out of planes in New Zealand—led Blehm to the previously untold story of an elite team of eleven Green Berets who operated in the hinterland of Taliban-held Afghanistan just weeks after 9/11.
The Only Thing Worth Dying For is the fruit of three-plus years of investigation into the first Special Forces mission in the south of Afghanistan and the ensuing battles, which resulted in the fall of the Taliban and the rise of Hamid Karzai. By winning the trust of men from ODA 574, the Green Beret team tasked with the mission, Blehm has been able to reveal in extraordinary detail how these resourceful U.S. soldiers managed to foment a rebellion among the Pashtun and forge a new Afghanistan from behind enemy lines. It is telling of Blehm’s ethic that he met and received the blessing of family members of the men on the team who were killed in action before embarking upon the telling of this story.
In addition to writing books and articles that take readers into the depths of fascinating subcultures, Blehm is a recognized voice in the search-and-rescue community for his detailed reporting of the Morgenson investigation—one of the most extensive search-and-rescue operations in National Park Service history. He is also widely known for his participatory coverage of outdoor sports and topics in the realm of adventure travel. He has contributed to GQ, Outside, Men’s Journal, Backpacker, Climbing, Couloir, Hemispheres, and the Los Angeles Times. Eric Blehm lives in Southern California with his wife and two children.
In THE ONLY THING WORTH DYING FOR, Author Eric Blehm follows the daring undertaking of Capt. Jason Amerine’s Special Forces Team Alpha 574. In November, 2001, they arrived by helicopter into Afghanistan with the assignment to assist the future Afghan President, Hamid Karzai. They were to help to control anti-Taliban insurgents that were at that time in the southern part of Afghanistan. Their objective was to train the disorganized and unruly Pashtun tribesmen into successful soldiers. The actual project turned out to be impossible with their worst enemies being other meddling Americans. The top commanders and CIA as well as a Marine Officers were among the people who got in the way. An Air Force spotter, in fact, mistakenly ordered an air strike on the Special Forces Team’s own position with deadly results.
Blehm did a great amount of research and gives very detailed accounts of what happened to this particular Special Forces Team. He even was able to give details of some of their personal lives so the reader can better understand the amazing dedication these men have to their job and themselves. He is able to show how these trained men could deal with anything that came along even if it wasn’t expected as a result of their commitment and exhaustive preparation. The book is complimented with over 15 pages of photographs. Full of action and tension, THE ONLY THING WORTH DYING FOR is an important book that reads like a fascinating narrative with real life well presented characters so that every generation can read this book and try to begin to understand what being at war is really like. We should thank people like the group that just produced the Academy Award movie THE HURT LOCKER and books like this one -- Eric Blehm’s THE ONLY THING WORTH DYING FOR because they give those of us who live in freedom, a look at the men and women who are daily working to assure us that we will remain free and be able to live our lives safely.
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