A specific, technical study of the U.S. military’s special operations against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in the weeks after 9/11.
Sticking to the record, retired Marine Corps veteran Camp (Battle for the City of the Dead: In the Shadow of the Golden Dome, Najaf, August 2004, 2011, etc.) does not impart judgment to this extraordinary story of the U.S. expulsion of Taliban forces in the space of several weeks after 9/11. Maps, chronology and photos all relay the historian’s sense of meticulous research without heeding stylistic embellishments. Camp paints the grim background by depicting the brutal Soviet invasion of the country in 1979 and the disastrous 10-year occupation, resulting in many dead, billions spent and little gained. Emerging from the squalid refugee camps and supported by Pakistan intelligence, the mujahideen were proud, fearless guerrilla fighters who formed small, mobile units that roamed the countryside laying ambush. They were highly effective over the rugged terrain against the lumbering Soviet juggernaut, and would be again when enlisted by the U.S. against the Taliban. The attacks on 9/11 underscored what the Americans should have seen coming: The Taliban (still supported by Pakistan), militarized by Osama bin Laden, had issued jihad against America, as evidenced by the suicide bomb on the USS Cole in 2000 and other attacks. Camp delves into the Bush Administration’s war machinations led by Donald Rumsfeld, and though the military detail can occasionally become overwhelming, the big events unfurl methodically, climaxing in U.S.-backed Hamid Karzai’s taking of Kandahar, and the pursuit of al-Qaeda troops to the border of Pakistan. Operation Anaconda officially closed in March 2002, before the U.S. turned its attention to Iraq.
A workmanlike, nuts-and-bolt account of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan.