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Horse Soldiers

Horse Soldiers

Read by: Jack Garrett
  • reading group guide
  • bestseller
From the New York Times-bestselling author of In Harm's Way comes a true-life story of American soldiers overcoming great odds to achieve a stunning military victory.

Horse Soldiers 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 across mountainous terrain and, after a series of intense battles, captured the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, which was strategically essential if they were to defeat the Taliban.

The bone-weary American soldiers were welcomed as liberators, and overjoyed Afghans thronged the streets. Then the action took a wholly unexpected turn. During a surrender of six hundred Taliban troops, the Horse Soldiers were ambushed. Dangerously outnumbered, 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 effort to defeat the Taliban might be doomed.

As the Americans struggled to hold the fortress, they faced some of the most intense urban warfare of our time. But until now the full story of the Horse Soldiers has never been told. Doug Stanton received unprecedented cooperation from the U.S. Army's Special Forces soldiers and Special Operations helicopter pilots, as well as access to voluminous after-battle reports. In addition, he interviewed more than one hundred participants and walked every inch of the climactic battleground.

This exciting story is filled with unforgettable characters: brave Special Forces soldiers, tough CIA operatives, cunning Afghan warlords, anxious stateside soldiers' wives who do not know where their husbands have gone, and humble Afghan boys spying on the Taliban.

Deeply researched and beautifully written, Stanton's account of America's quest to liberate an oppressed people touches the mythic. The Horse Soldiers 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 and avoid civilian casualties proved a valuable lesson for America's ongoing efforts in Afghanistan.

Horse Soldiers is a big-hearted and thrilling read, with an epic story that reaches not just across the cold mountains of Afghanistan but into the homes of small-town America, and confirms Doug Stanton as one of our country's preeminent storytellers.
  • Simon & Schuster Audio | 
  • ISBN 9781442342385 | 
  • March 2011
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Video

Doug Stanton: Off The Shelf

From the bestselling author of In Harm's Way comes another intrepid true-life tale of men at war overcoming great odds to survive, in our own era

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Questions for Horse Soldiers

1. Were you surprised to learn of America’s secret effort to attack the Taliban in the fall of 2001, or did you already know about it? How advisable was this plan? Does knowing about the success of this campaign change your understanding of America’s war in Iraq, which followed?

2. As Doug Stanton shows, the American soldiers preparing for their mission to Afghanistan were yanked out of their lives and family relationships to go to war. How did you respond to his portrayal of the men and women involved? Did this exposition add to the power of the story, or were you impatient for the action to begin? Why? Do you know anyone who served in this or another comparable conflict, and was his or her experience similar?

3. Doug Stanton felt that the soldiers’ efforts to get into Afghanistan by flying Chinook helicopters over 14,000 ft. mountain peaks was an important part of the story. Do you agree? Did you enjoy knowing what the men went through just get to the battle zone?

4. There are a number of key American soldiers in this story. Which ones were your favorites, and why? Were you interested in their relationships with the Northern Alliance soldiers? Did you trust the Northern Alliance soldiers? Why? How about the Northern Alliance generals?

5. This book shows the relationship between a theoretical military strategy, designed by American generals, and its on-the-ground implement see more

About the Author

Doug Stanton
Photo Credit: Brian Confer

Doug Stanton

Doug Stanton is the author of the New York Times bestseller In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors. A former contributing editor at Esquire, Sports Afield, and Outside, Stanton is now a contributing editor at Men’s Journal and has written extensively on travel, sport, entertainment, and history, during which time he nearly drowned in Cape Horn waters, survived a mugging by jungle revolutionaries, played basketball with George Clooney, and took an acting lesson from Harrison Ford.

Stanton lives in his hometown of Traverse City, Michigan, where he is a member of the advisory board of the Interlochen Center for the Arts’ Motion Picture Arts program, and a trustee of the Pathfinder School.

He has taught writing at the college level and worked as a commercial sports fisherman and caretaker of Robert Frost’s house in Vermont. Stanton graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and Hampshire College in Massachusetts, and also received an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He and his wife, the investigative reporter Anne Stanton, have three children.

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