In this absolutely riveting account, full of horror and raw courage, journalist Stanton (In Harm's Way) recreates the miseries and triumphs of specially trained mounted U.S. soldiers, deployed in the war-ravaged Afghanistan mountains to fight alongside the Northern Alliance-thousands of rag-tag Afghans who fought themselves to exhaustion or death-against the Taliban. The U.S. contingent, almost to a man, had never ridden horses-especially not these ""shaggy and thin-legged, and short... descendents of the beasts Genghis Khan had ridden out of Uzbekistan""-but that was not the only obstacle: rattling helicopters, outdated maps, questionable air support and insufficient food also played their parts. Stanton brings each soldier and situation to vivid life: ""Bennett suddenly belted out: 'It just keeps getting better and better!' Here they were, living on fried sheep and filtered ditchwater...calling in ops-guided bombs on bunkers built of mud and wood scrap, surrounded by Taliban fighters."" In less than three months, this handful of troops secured a city in which a fort had been taken over by Taliban prisoners, a tangle of firefights and mayhem that became a seminal battle and, in Stanton's prose, a considerable epic: ""Dead and dying men and wounded horses had littered the courtyard, a twitching choir that brayed and moaned in the rough, knee-high grass.""