When the United States first invaded Afghanistan in 2001, it primarily relied on special forces to keep its military “footprint” small and utilize local forces, such as the Northern Alliance, to defeat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. While special operations forces succeeded in the beginning of the operation, their failure to capture Osama Bin-Laden at Tora Bora later that year demonstrated the limitations of relying on small units of special forces. As the U.S. initiates a military surge in Afghanistan eight years later, Georgetown professor David Leebaert’s book, To Dare and to Conquer, offers a prescient history of special operations from “Achilles to Al-Qaeda.” Leebaert makes the case that special operations and the qualities that define them—ingenuity, speed, and audacity—have not only decided battles, but have swung the history of civilizations. A fantastic storyteller, Leebaert’s prose is perhaps the finest feature of the book.
Bio: Jordan Hirsch is an intern at Guernica. Read his last recommendation “here”:https://www.guernicamag.com/blog/1124/staff_pick_jordan_hirsch_1/.