Eric Blehm's third book, The Only Thing Worth Dying For: How Eleven Green Berets Forged a New Afghanistan (Harper, $26), details the U.S. Army's campaign to take the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar. Blehm reconstructs the narrative of the men of ODA 574, who in 2001 infiltrated southern Afghanistan with a then-unknown guerrilla leader named Hamid Karzai. "God, this is awesome," thinks a young sergeant. "We're live and we've got ammo and anything can happen." Does it ever: Blehm's heroes, along with 300-odd Afghan fighters, rout the Taliban and befriend the locals. Then the Army's bureaucracy commits a horrific error that destroys the team and almost kills Karzai. Blehm avoids adding to the recent flood of armchair political analysis but uncovers something more true: a parable of the war in the story of one unit.
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