The Only Thing Worth Dying For is the harrowing true story of eleven Green Berets who fought alongside the future leader of Afghanistan to topple the Taliban in southern Afghanistan and bring hope to a nation during the first few months of the Global War on Terror, or Operation Enduring Freedom—when the soldiers on the ground knew little about the enemy, and their commanders in Washington knew even less.
On a moonless November night, just weeks after 9/11, five Blackhawk helicopters infiltrate southern Afghanistan, dropping Special Forces A-Team—ODA 574—deep behind enemy lines in the mountains of Uruzgan. Hundreds of miles to the north, the U.S. military, aided by the armies of the Northern Alliance, is routing Taliban forces, but here in the Pashtun tribal belt—the Taliban’s own backyard—Captain Jason Amerine and his ten Green Berets are on a seemingly impossible mission: to destroy the Taliban from within and prevent a civil war from consuming the country. Armed only with the equipment they can carry on their backs, shockingly scant intelligence, and their mastery of guerrilla warfare, ODA 574 must somehow foment a tribal revolt and force the Taliban to surrender. This lone team of Green Berets has just one ally: a little-known Pashtun statesman named Hamid Karzai, who has returned from exile and is being hunted by the Taliban.
While Karzai attempts to raise a militia, the men of ODA 574 find themselves outnumbered against a ruthless Taliban force. They are in a land where respect is earned at gunpoint, and Karzai’s practiced diplomacy needs the credibility of a warrior in order to unite the Pashtun and build his army. That respect will only come from defeating the Taliban in battle. As ODA 574 contends with a patriot’s quixotic dream, a CIA case officer’s murky agenda, and a higher command that refuses to follow its own rules, Amerine and his men take up position in a small town that has just hanged its Taliban provincial governor, ready to defend it against a thousand enemy fighters who are on their way to kill them …
With unprecedented access to surviving members of ODA 574, Special Operations soldiers and airmen, key commanders and war planners, and Karzai himself, Blehm narrates the muddy-boots effort that helped install Karzai as the leader of Afghanistan’s transitional government, the stepping stone from which he became the country’s first democratically elected president. This story of bravery and sacrifice continues to shape the future of the region today.
The Only Thing Worth Dying For was a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller.