Published: December 29, 2021
Do you want to learn more about the war in Afghanistan? This list of 15 books offers you more details on this conflict that lasted for more than two decades.
Our list includes memoires from soldiers on the ground, details about specific battles within the war, and writings from investigative journalists. You will get a view of what happened from a variety of sources to get a full picture of this important part of history.
Written by: Sean Parnell and John Bruning
Published: February 28th, 2012
This book portrays the story of Lieutenant Parnell and his incredible sixteen-month service leading his infantry with astonishing vividness. Starting in 2006, he and his men were stationed in the Bermel Valley, which is on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their primary mission was to stop any transport of weapons, supplies, and enemy troops into Afghanistan.
During this horribly difficult time, this group would do more than expected of any team. As you read this book, you will feel like you are there in the middle of the action. It is harrowing and exciting, all at the same time, to see what these men went through and how they survived…or didn't. The 10th Mountain Division platoon was awarded seven Bronze Stars and 32 purple hearts.
Written by: Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson
Published: June 12th, 2007
In this powerful and personal account of heroism, tragedy, and fortitude, Marcus Luttrell delivers an astonishing tale of modern warfare and one man's fierce will to live. On June 28th, 2005, a team of four Navy SEALs embarked on a reconnaissance mission in the mountainous terrain of eastern Afghanistan. Eyewitness to his team's loss by a grenade, bullet, and knife, Luttrell recounts the devastating minutes that led to him being the only member of his unit to make it out alive.
It is a story about courage in the face of insurmountable odds and the power of brotherhood in the face of ultimate tragedy. Luttrell's bravery and resilience are truly inspiring, and his account provides a unique perspective on one of the most important military engagements in recent history.
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Written by: Robert O'Neill
Published: April 25th, 2017
Robert O'Neill, a Navy SEAL who was part of the team that killed Osama bin Laden, has written a book about his experiences. The Operator tells the story of how he became a SEAL, what it was like to be on the mission to kill bin Laden, and his life after becoming a national hero. O'Neill provides an inside look at the training and preparation that goes into becoming a SEAL and recounts some of the most harrowing moments of his career.
He also offers reflections on what it means to serve one's country and become part of an elite team. O'Neill was on over four hundred counterterrorism missions for over a decade, so there is so much to read it is utterly enthralling. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the military history of modern warfare.
Written by: James Patterson and Matt Eversmann
Published: February 8th, 2021
Unlike the other books on this list, this covers the wars starting in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. These soldiers, Marines, airmen, and sailors have seen things that most people could never imagine and have made countless sacrifices while serving our country. James Patterson, who usually writes fiction, worked with First Sergeant Matt Eversmann (who was part of the inspiration for the movie Black Hawk Down) to interview and learn the stories of these soldiers.
This book offers an up-close look at what it's like to serve in today's military through the stories of numerous veterans who have bravely served their country. This firsthand account provides readers with an honest and powerful glimpse into the lives of America's servicemen and women. From discussing the difficulty of training, fighting, having comrades and best friends die, and even the challenges of returning home, you will learn more about the military than you ever would have elsewhere.
Written by: Dakota Meyer and Bing West
Published: September 25th, 2012
In 2009, at the age of just 19 years old, Dakota Meyer was thrown into one of the worst battles of the whole war in Afghanistan. Known as “The Battle of Ganjgal," he, along with others in his unit and Afghani soldiers, was ambushed by Taliban fighters. The members of the Taliban easily should have overpowered and slaughtered all of them. However, Corporal Meyer decided to take matters into his own hands and led a charge to help save the lives of others.
Although this would be enough of a story, it continues as it explores the investigations into his choices and actions, what it was and is like to live with the loss of the people you love, like brothers and sisters, and what it is like to come home again. Because of his heroic actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Obama at the young age of 23.
Written by: Craig Whitlock
Published: August 31st, 2021
Most people thought that the war with Afghanistan was justifiable after 9/11. However, the idea that al-Qaeda would be easy to defeat was quickly proven incorrect. As this issue continued, the US government became entangled in an almost unwinnable war where guerilla tactics seemed the best chance for success. No matter what was said publicly, another truth was being buried behind the scenes.
When these papers were released, many of the lies became obvious and unavoidable during this war. Using some of the highest people in our government, soldiers, and others, this book examines how the story was distorted so the public wouldn't know the truth. This includes knowing that the war was unwinnable, yet Bush, Obama, and Trump continued to obfuscate and try to say we were winning it.
Written by: Dan Schilling
Published: June 25th, 2019
In the early hours of March 4th, 2002, Jon Chapman and the rest of his Navy SEALs led an attack on a Taliban stronghold in the mountains. Ever the leader, he went headfirst into battle but was injured, fell unconscious, and left for dead on the field. As he awoke, he saw Taliban warriors closing in, and he knew that he could only save others and sacrifice himself.
Because of that, he fought over two dozen fighters himself as the team waited for backup to arrive on the scene. Though he was killed during the fight, he saved numerous lives and wouldn't give up until the end. Using interviews, documents, and more, you will understand the heroic actions and why he was given the Medal of Honor posthumously.
Written by: Eric Blehm
Published: May 22nd, 2012
Adam Brown was known as a reckless and "I'll do anything on a dare" kind of guy when he was younger. Having fallen into the wrong crowd, he realized he had only one chance to save himself, and that was to become a Navy SEAL. Amazingly, he accomplished this and became a fighter that would also be one of the most generous US soldiers one could imagine. Instead of just going in and killing people, he would find out who he could help and then bring them items they needed to survive.
He didn’t want to be just like the terrorists they were trying to kill. He wanted the people to see him as a helper and someone who wanted the best for them. Sadly, this man who gave so much to others, and tried to save them, lost his life on March 17th, 2010. This thoughtful book shows how you can change who you are and become the person you want to be, no matter who stands in your way.
Written by: Nicholas Irving and Gary Brozek
Published: January 27th, 2015
Nicholas Irving, credited with at least 33 kills and possibly more, was one of the greatest snipers during the Afghanistan War. He had a 93% kill rate, so he became known as "The Reaper" since once he set his sights on you, you would be dead. A member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, the story is enthralling and hard to put down.
You will get an inside look into this incredibly specialized and challenging style of warfare and how he could master it. Trust me, your heart rate will rise, and your skin will sweat as you go through this with him. The difference is he could control his, while you won't be able to do it. This may be an autobiography of one of the deadliest snipers, but it is also about the brotherhood of many who serve together.
Written by: Steve Coll
Published: February 6th, 2018
Before 9/11, the Central Intelligence Agency was engaged in a secret war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Directorate S is a new book by journalist Steve Coll that tells the story of this hidden history, sheds light on the CIA's role in America's longest war, and reveals the complicated relationships between the US government and Pakistan's intelligence agencies. Often it would seem as if we were on the same side while we were helping the terrorists.
Drawing on extensive research and interviews with key figures, Coll offers a detailed account of the origins and evolution of America's covert operations in South Asia. The people running this scheme went to the top of the government and the military. This is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding how we got to where we are today in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Written by: Jon Krakauer
Published: September 15th, 2009
In his appropriately titled book, Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, internationally renowned author Jon Krakauer tells the story of an all-American football star who turned down a multimillion-dollar contract to serve his country in the military after 9/11. Tillman's journey took him from enlisting in the Army Rangers and becoming a paratrooper to his death in Afghanistan to becoming a hero.
Lesser known is that he was killed by friendly fire that the Bush government did its best to hide from his family and the public for as long as possible. Krakauer expands on the story beyond Tillman's death, painting a picture of how politics and bureaucracy can get in the way of troops on the ground and cover up mistakes made by those higher up. This is a powerful and essential book that sheds light on one man's remarkable odyssey.
Written by: Anand Gopal
Published: April 29th, 2014
This is an incredibly in-depth and powerful book regarding what happened, and continues to some degree, happen in Afghanistan. It focuses on three main characters, Hella Achekzai, who is a civilian woman, Jan Muhammad, who is a leader for the Afghanis who work with the US), and Akbar Gul, a commander in the Taliban.
This book looks into how the war in Afghanistan began, what it was like living through it, and the outcomes to them and others. The primary focus is on how instead of working with the powers there, they ignored them, the built and failed alliances, and how these three survived using their intelligence and skills. It also focuses on how the US government decided to ignore international ideas and put some of the worst into power and control. It is an eye-opening read, no matter what you think you know of this war.
Written by: Doug Stanton
Published: May 5th, 2009
The title sort of gives you the heart of the story: These Special Forces members who went into Afghanistan and used horses to fight the Taliban. Using the horses, they could get to areas that the other military vehicles couldn't reach because of the ridges and drops. Even when outnumbered by the enemy, they could evade them and became heroes for the Afghanis who hated the Taliban.
Even though this story sounds perfect, there was a significant battle in the fortress of Qala-i-Janghi. They were again surrounded by over 600 enemies and had to fight their way out, and the city would be lost again. The book has so many surprising twists and thrills that will make you feel as if you are there.
Written by: Mark Owens and Kevin Maurer
Published: September, 4th 2012
At first glance, No Easy Day may seem like just another action thriller novel. However, upon closer inspection, it is clear that this book is much more than that. Mark, a former member of the Navy SEAL Team Six who participated in Operation Neptune Spear – the mission to kill Osama bin Laden – provides a firsthand account of what happened leading up to and during the raid.
In addition to sharing never-before-seen details about the mission itself, Owen also opens up about his journey. Owen writes about his growing up in Alaska from amateur gymnast to elite Navy SEAL operator.
While writing about the incredible mission to kill Bin-Laden, he goes into the mistakes and failures during this war. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in understanding what goes into making such a dangerous and high-stakes mission successful.
Written by: Clint Emerson
Published: November 12th, 2019
When most people think of a Navy SEAL, they imagine physically fit, highly disciplined, and capable of completing any mission. This is undoubtedly accurate, but there is much more to being a SEAL than meets the eye. Clint Emerson's new book offers an inside look at what it's like to be a Navy SEAL and covert operative.
Emerson provides an honest account of his experiences in the military and beyond, revealing the unique challenges and opportunities of this type of work. Using their motto, Find, Fix, and Finish, you will see more deeply into the secret world of the SEALS and these people who put their life on the line every day. If you're looking for an exciting and inspiring read, The Right Kind of Crazy: My Life Navy SEAL, Covert Operative should be on your list.