Many people will either be hosting or heading out to holiday parties and get-togethers to celebrate Christmas and the upcoming New Year. Others will take the time to rest and recharge their batteries and spend some quiet time at home.
If you are one of the latter and want to spend some quiet time reading a good book curled up on the couch or a favorite chair, we have a couple of recommendations for you. Of course, if you have to gift a last-minute or belated Christmas gift to someone who enjoys reading about the military, then check these out.
“Sacrifice, A Gold Star Widow’s Fight For the Truth”:
Michelle Black is a Gold Star widow whose husband Bryan Black was a Green Beret and one of the Special Forces men killed in the ambush in Niger in October 2017 by ISIS terrorists. Losing her husband and father to her children was bad enough. What followed was nearly worse.
Black and the other families of the 3rd SFG A-Team involved in the ambush couldn’t get a straight answer from the unit and the various headquarters that the Green Berets fell under, which had caused that fatal outcome.
With narratives changing frequently, Mrs. Black was horrified to learn that the Army, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), and Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) blamed the Special Forces A-Team for its own demise. In their investigation, they partly blamed the ambush on a culture of risk-taking, a culture that is deliberately cultivated in Special Operations soldiers. They characterized the team as rogues and cowboys who went off the reservation.
Black, uncomfortable with the ever-changing narrative, did her own investigation and has published a book that nails down the actual truth. It recounts her husband’s life, the events leading up to the ambush, its aftermath, and the investigation surrounding it.
While many people were tuned in to the ABC News special “ODA-3212 Unredacted”, this video special was missing two key components: the meticulous research that Black had done and interviewing her for her story, more importantly, the voices of the surviving A-Team members themselves. Only Black has documented their stories, which needs to be heard.
This is a book highly recommended for all of our readers.
“Steel Fear” By Brandon Webb and John David Mann:
Webb and Mann have collaborated on several books together, but they delve into a different genre in this one. Instead of writing about history or biographies, the story of “Steel Fear” is a fictional one. And one that is guaranteed to keep the reader turning the pages without a break.
The novel is set aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, which is about to leave the Persian Gulf and return to the States. After a deadly helicopter accident, the morale on the ship has plummeted. The commander of the ship is a weak leader. The situation on-board the carrier takes an even worse turn when one crewmember is thought to have committed suicide by jumping off the ship. Six days later, another member crew member supposedly does the same thing. While each left a suicide note, neither of them were written, only typed, which leads to the speculation that the deaths were the work of a serial killer murderer on-board the carrier.
The protagonist Chief Finn is a Navy SEAL sniper who was picked up after his last mission to Yemen was a failure due to faulty intelligence. Finn’s mind is clouded by his own PTSD and has memory gaps but is haunted by an entire village being massacred. Between Finn’s blackouts and his investigation into the serial killer, he is worried about why he is being recalled to the States, believing that it is in disgrace. The ship’s captain believes that Finn was sent to spy on him.
The character development is superb, and the authors weave a complex and compelling tale of tracking a serial murderer aboard one of the Navy’s largest ships and how that ship can seem like a claustrophobic experience to the sailors. Webb, a former Navy SEAL, spent time on carriers, and the Navy allowed Mann access to one, which leads to the authenticity that one would expect.
SOFREP.com has posted several articles on the character development of the series and podcast interviews with both authors. Steel Fear can be ordered on Amazon.
“First Casualty: The Untold Story of the CIA to Avenge 9/11”:
Best-selling author Toby Harnden researched the story of how the United States sent small teams of CIA personnel and Green Berets to Afghanistan immediately after 9/11, and those men would lead the war effort in wrestling control of Afghanistan from the Taliban.
The story centers around CIA agents David Tyson and Mike Spann, who have to make contact and build rapport and relationships with the Northern Alliance warlords, specifically General Abdul Rashid Dostum, who Harnden characterized in a SOFREP Radio podcast as “straight out of central casting.”
Tyson was an Uzbek linguist, which was invaluable as he could communicate easily with the Northern Alliance. The CIA/Green Beret team had built a great rapport with Dostum in a very condensed period of time. The commander of the A-Team, Captain Mark Nutsch of the 5th Special Forces Group (5th SFG), and Tyson built a great relationship of trust with Dostum. They quickly got results and captured Mazar-i-Sharif, which was the key to taking Kabul and the entire country.
But not everyone in the U.S. government was so pleased with the CIA/SF success. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was incensed that the war was being won by CIA agents, a couple of Captains, and Green Beret sergeants. He sent in colonels and generals that were unneeded and unwanted. Things quickly turned into what Tyson accurately characterized as a “goat rope.”
The chapter on the al-Qaeda prisoner revolt at Qala-i-Jangi fortress where Mike Spann was the first American killed in Afghanistan was an absolute page-turner. The rescue effort by the Americans and British SBS commandos was described in detail.
Harnden’s research took him to Afghanistan, where he interviewed Dostum a year ago. Although he was the key figure in the Northern Alliance, as soon as Afghanistan was captured, he was shunned by Washington. The CIA cooperated with Harnden on the book and granted him access to nearly all of the major players in the story.
“First Casualty” is exceptionally well-written, meticulously researched, and an absolute page-turner.