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Selected as a "BUZZ BOOK" for Fall/Winter (Publishers Lunch)
The Wall Street Journal's national security reporter-formerly based in Kabul from 2013-2017-takes readers into the lives of U.S. Special Forces on the front lines against the Taliban and Islamic State, where a new and covert war is keeping Afghanistan from collapse.
In 2015, the White House claimed triumphantly "the longest war in American history is over." But for some, it was just the beginning of a new and covert war, fought far from public view, with limited resources, little governmental oversight, and contradictory orders.
Take Hutch, a battle-worn Green Beret on his fifth combat tour in 2015, tasked with a high-stakes mission: lead a small band of men into Kunduz, recapture the city from the Taliban, and turn it over to the Afghan government. The U.S. role was meant to be a secret-after all, the war was over. Then, disaster struck. He called in an airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital, killing dozens of doctors and patients.
Or Caleb, who stepped on a bomb during a raid on a Taliban hideout in notorious Sangin. Or Andy, trapped in Marjah with a crashed Black Hawk and no air support. From Hutch to Caleb to Andy, Eagle Down is a dramatic and intimate portrayal of this ongoing forgotten war that moves from the desperate battlegrounds in muddy Afghan villages all the way to the White House.
Pulitzer Prize Finalist Jessica Donati, with big picture insight and on-the-ground grit, reveals how America came to rely on U.S. Special Forces, through successive policy directives that ramped up the war under the Obama and Trump administrations. Donati argues the covert war is failing to stabilize Afghanistan, and without a long-term plan, is undermining U.S. interests both at home and abroad.
Relying on Donati's daring on-the-ground reporting, first-hand accounts from Special Forces, military documents, and declassified reports, Eagle Down is an account of the heroism, sacrifice, and tragedy experienced by those that continue to fight America's longest war.
"Donati's on-the-ground account-and it's clear that she put herself in constant danger to tell the soldiers' stories even as American officials dithered about how to deploy those troops-is sometimes as hallucinatory as Dispatches and as taut and well written as Mark Bowden's now-classic book...Exemplary journalism and a powerful argument for not putting soldiers in harm's way unless we're sure we know why."
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review