RED PLATOON by Clinton Romesha


A True Story of American Valor
Email this review


An account of the horrendous October 2009 attack on the American Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan, told in a frank, engaging vernacular by the staff sergeant and Medal of Honor winner.

The attack by the Taliban on Keating took the lives of eight Americans and countless Afghans, and it rendered numerous wounded. However, as Romesha notes in his character-driven narrative, it was hardly a surprise enemy move. Having joined the Army from his graduating class in Lake City, California, in 1999, following his two older brothers, Romesha became a commander of the Black Knight Troop’s Red Platoon, which was eventually sent to the most remote and dangerous outpost in Nuristan, less than 20 miles from the Pakistan border. The location of the fort defied tactical logic: rather than firing down at the enemy from the top of the hill, Keating was a target at the base of steep mountains whose ridgelines concealed attack points behind thick trees and boulders. It was the spectacularly ill-planned layout of the fort—“so breathtakingly open to plunging fire that massive amounts of artillery and airpower would be required to defend it”—that allowed the Taliban to observe in detail the movements and patterns of the American scouts, young men who were trained in reconnaissance, countersurveillance, and navigation. Romesha lovingly describes this cohort as “exceptionally ordinary men who were put to an extraordinary test.” The author devotes the narrative to building character studies of his troop, which he carefully “stacked” with the most determined, steely, physically fit, and battle-tested soldiers, headed by the very capable Lt. Andrew Bundermann. When the assault came at dawn, the soldiers took up their weapons and positions dutifully and with fervor, though they were stunningly outnumbered and nearly overrun until air support arrived hours later. The book is riveting in its authentic detail, right down to the determined attempts to recover American bodies before the Taliban could.

Romesha ably captures the daily dangers faced by these courageous American soldiers in Afghanistan.

Pub Date: May 3rd, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-525-95505-4
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2016


See full list >
Cover art for WILDER GIRLS
Cover art for UNDER CURRENTS
Cover art for THE GOLDEN HOUR
Cover art for THE CHAIN
Kirkus Interview
Clinton Romesha
author of RED PLATOON
April 19, 2016

In 2009, Clinton Romesha of Red Platoon and the rest of the Black Knight Troop were preparing to shut down Command Outpost Keating, the most remote and inaccessible in a string of bases built by the U.S. military in Nuristan and Kunar in the hope of preventing Taliban insurgents from moving freely back and forth between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Three years after its construction, the army was finally ready to concede what the men on the ground had known immediately: it was simply too isolated and too dangerous to defend. On October 3, 2009, after years of constant smaller attacks, the Taliban finally decided to throw everything they had at Keating. Red Platoon is the riveting first-hand account of the Battle of Keating, told by Romesha, who spearheaded both the defense of the outpost and the counter-attack that drove the Taliban back beyond the wire, and received the Medal of Honor for his actions. “Romesha ably captures the daily dangers faced by these courageous American soldiers in Afghanistan,” Kirkus’ reviewer writes. View video >


NonfictionTHE GOOD WAR by Jack Fairweather
by Jack Fairweather
NonfictionTHE DOGS ARE EATING THEM NOW by Graeme Smith
by Graeme Smith
NonfictionTHE TENDER SOLDIER by Vanessa M. Gezari
by Vanessa M. Gezari