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  • First Casualty

  • By: Toby Harnden
  • Narrated by: John Hopkins
  • Length: 12 hrs and 36 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (117 ratings)

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First Casualty cover art

First Casualty

By: Toby Harnden
Narrated by: John Hopkins
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Summary

The West is in shock. Al-Qaeda has struck the US on 9/11, and thousands are dead.

Within weeks, UK Special Forces enter the fray in Afghanistan alongside the CIA's Team Alpha and US troops.

Victory is swift but fragile. Hundreds of jihadists surrender, and two operatives from Team Alpha enter Qala-i Jangi - the 'Fort of War' - to interrogate them. The prisoners revolt; one CIA man falls, and the other is trapped inside the fort. Seven members of the SBS - elite British Special Forces - volunteer for the rescue force and race into danger and the unknown.

The six-day battle that follows proves to be one of the bloodiest of the Afghanistan war as the SBS and their American comrades face an enemy determined to die in the mud citadel.

Superbly researched, First Casualty is based on unprecedented access to the CIA, SBS and US Special Forces. Orwell Prize-winning author Toby Harnden recounts the gripping story of that first battle in Afghanistan and how the haunting foretelling it contained - unreliable allies, ethnic rivalries, suicide attacks and errant bombs - was ignored, fueling the 20-year conflict to come.

©2021 Toby Harnden (P)2021 Welbeck Publishing Group
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about First Casualty

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Excellent listening

I am a veteran of UK military, I spent most of the 1970,s in Ulster. This true account of the trauma men go through in combat has helped me quieten my demons.

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Good when it gets there

The initial third of the book was too long in details not always relevant to the main story title.
Thereafter very interesting.

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Incredible journalism

Having been on assignment in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation I know how accurate the accounts truly are.

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Brilliant

Well written and brilliantly narrated.
It’s the best book I listened or read in a long time .
It makes one realise how many service personnel risked everything at the beginning of the Afghanistan war, and it escalated into a twenty year war.
Personally I really enjoyed the book and recommend it to anyone who has a political or military interest on the Afghanistan war.

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Superbly written, great narration

This is an excellent book, Very well researched, superbly written and with an excellent narration, the books takes the reader through the early days of war in Afghanistan. It does so via key characters of the story, especially the CIA officers first deployed to Afghanistan, the establishment of a relationship with Afghan warlord Dostum and the astonishing success they achieved, removing the Taliban from power. It also convers the exacting price of war, both in the lost lives of Afghans, bit also of Americans and especially of the first American casualty of that war. Considering the now known outcome of the war, one was to wonder whether such sacrifice in pain, death and treasure were worth it...
The story telling is surprisingly powerful and kept me listening almost non stop to the book. The narration was also powerful and overall result is a book worth reading / listening. Having read or listened to many books on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, before I bought this book, I wondered whether this wouldn't be just another book of many on the same subject. It is not. It is a great book, well worth the time of reader / listener. Highly recommended.

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An excellent account, delivered superbly

Written brilliantly and the choice of who to speak it in audiobook format was inspired. I Very happily binged this one over a few days!

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Excellent account of early days Afghanistan!

Great account of those early days of the war in Afghanistan from first hand memoirs and interviews of those that were there and the battle at Qali-I-Jangi. Intimate detail and analysis of the beginning of the war and superb summary on how it fatally up-ended.

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Wow. This is a good book

I may not agree with all of the decisions, our governments make, or the fact that we think of citizens in other countries, particularly war zones as more disposable and less important than us westerners, and even that attitude is not shied away from in the book.

It’s punchy, emotional and very real . It really is a powerful piece of work that I recommend highly.

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Very interesting and insightful, worth a listen.

This book is very interesting on many levels. If you are interested in developing an understanding of what led to what in the early days of the Afghanistan war this is a good start.

The book is not afraid to talk about other parties involved that are not CIA or there associated ODA teams. There is constant reference to what war lords are doing along with their fighters. This in many ways is some of the more insightful listening. There is a clear understanding of the massive cultural differences, which makes this book more valuable that some.

My only mild criticism(more of an observation) is that it is clearly written by an American, this is not a problem, it is exactly who I would hope would write this. However it does mean at points it can be a bit obtuse about it. As an example at a point the British SBS is directly compared to the American Seals, while not totally untrue may not me 100% perfect either.

But over all this book is an amazing insight into a world that many people don't even know existed. If you have any interest in this kind of thing I would wholeheartedly recommend the book. I cart thank all those involved both in the story it's self and the creation of this book enough.

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We owe so much to so few, this is an amazing story

We owe so much to so few, this is an amazing story, I have been in tears more than once and I couldn't stop listening to it. written so well and with such understanding of real people and families. Not just from the side of the US & UK forces but the Afghanis too. I have done my best to read as much about the wars of my life time where Brothers and Sisters have made the ultimate sacrifice out of respect for them and their families. So if this is something you're looking for then this is for you.

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