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Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on June 7, 2016
I have been reading military /tech thrillers since the age of 9 when a youth book about the evacuation of Dunkirk changed my life. Reading is my most favorite thing to do, and even though the mil/tech are my go-to, my training was in the classics and best of literature. I know a good read when I see one. I loved this book. The lessons about the true value of Green Beret assets in unconventional warfare are spelled out so clearly. Fry, 13 years after the fact, must have gone back to his journals and talks with his buddies and let his mind and body occupy the Pech once again. I have read so many books whose settings are in the Kunar and Nuristan provinces, and was actually an advantage that the origin story of Camp Blessing comes after the debacles of all the failures in those remarkable river valleys and mountainsides. Like the story of American Spartan, when Green Berets are allowed to fully engage their remarkable talents and training to become members of their communities while still overseeing and furthering their own mission, remarkable social changes occur. And it's not that what these highly trained military assets accomplish is a miracle, it's just that they engage indigenous persons and groups using exactly all the psycho-social and behavioral principles that have been proven effective in a million other settings. If Big Army can shut its mouth, get out of the way and let this branch of service persons do EXACTLY WHAT BIG ARMY TRAINED THEM FOR IN THE FIRST PLACE - ah! Victory and Success in surprisingly a cost effective and low body count methodology. But I preach to the choir. There are too many Custers roaming the plains, madly in love with themselves and leading their men to slaughter to let the common sense magic and influence of De Opressor Libre do what it does best. Special Forces methods and means are not a blanket solution. But in places where feudal and tribal influences divide and isolate people from one another and the world at large, this man to man relationship building is exactly right. Eric Eliason and his compatriot-in-God Taroon add such an essential element to the mix, of the importance of addressing all aspects of Man's existence in UW - mind, body and spirit. Reading of the far too short deployment of Hammerhead Six to Manogay is exhilarating and ultimately heart breaking. Inevitably, the replacements come who drink a different Kool-Aid and worship at the alter of Kaboom & Pew-Pew. sigh. For the monumental social shift that took place thanks to the men on that deployment in the establishment of Camp Blessing out of 10th Mountain's "Catamount" showcased the importance of the willingness of the team posted there - SF, Marines, an Airman, the chaplain, CIA attache' - to blend their particular skills into a flexible asset for the military mission it served as well as for the population of the greater Pech and Kunar valleys. From a psychological and sociological standpoint, this is a definitive read on effecting individual and social change in the most austere and challenging of environments: life and death hostility. As a military read its importance is burning - for all the print and hot air devoted to America's military efforts and expenditures, here is the textbook success story on how to do "It" and do it well and cheaply. And of course because it's not dramatic and absolutely does NOT serve the narcissistic community that drives anything involving Big Money, Big Attention and Big Ego, it's headed for the bookshelf.
Every time I move, I donate a truck load of books to local school or community libraries. I don't mark in them, being cognizant of their ultimate destination. I highlighted, pen-marked and defaced the hell out of Hammerhead Six. I bent pages over to mark them. I went back and re-read passages. I grabbed books written about later "episodes" in these valleys and compared passages about villages, local muckety-muks and warlords to Fry's writing. This book is a treasure in the military writing compendium. SO instructive to young men coming up who want to truly learn how to be GOOD, effective leaders of not only their troop, but in their communities. Kudos to Ron and Tad for putting so much information into such a readable format. It is an instructional manual of the highest order (thank you a zillion times for all the footnoting and the index!) as well as one of the best STORIES in this genre that I have read in 51 years of reading them - and I have read ...my mind tilts trying to even contemplate the thousands I have read over all these years. This is a GIFT to the genre, certain to become a military literature classic. Congratulations, gentlemen. Ron, it was worth the 13 year wait for you to get around to writing about Hammerhead Six.
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