HISTORY

Eagle Down: The Last Special Forces Fighting the Forever War

PublicAffairs: Perseus. Jan. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781541762558. $28. HIST
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The American military effort in Afghanistan, which began in October 2001, has become the longest war in U.S. history. Donati, who served as national security reporter for the Wall Street Journal in Kabul from 2014 to 2017, has crafted an inside look at the military tactics of units with the Army’s Special Forces (often referred to as Green Berets) that faced the Taliban in the Helmand area of southern Afghanistan. Similar to the observations in Wesley Morgan’s The Hardest Place (2021), which recounted American efforts in the Pech Valley, Donati provides clear-eyed insights into the frustrations and challenges that confront American soldiers in a war that many Americans have either forgotten about—or would just as soon keep out of sight and out of mind. But American servicemen continue to die and experience illness and disability as a result of this war, and Donati’s book is unflinching in the stories it tells about servicemen participating in an unforgiving war. The author also details the gridlock in Washington during George W. Bush’s and Barack Obama’s two terms in office as they sought to manage the war.
VERDICT Featuring often-overlooked perspectives, this is an important read on America’s military involvement in Afghanistan..

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