Beyond Hell and Back: How America's Special Operations Forces Became the World's Greatest Fighting Unit

Dwight Jon Zimmerman, Author, John D. Gresham, Author St. Martin's Press $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-36387-1
Looking at seven landmark U.S. military Special Operations missions, from 1970s Vietnam to Iraq in the 21st century, military writers Zimmerman and Gresham (Special Forces: A Guided Tour, with Tom Clancy) detail how the secretive, oft-misunderstood Special Ops forces have developed into ""the best in the world"" at carrying out high-risk/high-reward, and often highly classified, missions. Both successes (like the ""Immaculate Mission"" during Operation Iraqi Freedom) and failures (like the 1980 attempt to rescue U.S. Embassy personnel in Iran) are documented in exhausting detail, and cogent analysis spells out the consequences; for example, a raid on a POW prison in Hanoi didn't bring anyone home, but did drive the North Vietnamese to treat its prisoners more humanely, and pushed them toward peace talks in Paris. Zimmerman and Gresham excel at distilling incredibly complex mission planning and execution, making this a great read for military buffs, as well as for casual readers interested in the underlying issues that have fueled recent U.S. military conflicts.
Reviewed on: 10/01/2007
Release date: 10/01/2007
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