The men and women of the United States armed forces never cease to amaze me. Their dedication to their country and each other is astounding. Gregg Zoroya writes an account highlighting the fighting abilities and sacrifices of these men and women in his book The Chosen Few: A Company of Paratroopers and Its Heroic Struggle to Survive in the Mountains of Afghanistan.
Zoroya, like so many great authors in the past, perfectly describes the fighting spirit of America’s warriors. He chronicles the different firefights and battles in explicit detail.
Zoroya pulls the reader in with brief biographies of the men in the company. This approach acquaints the reader with the men and humanizes them (all too often it is easy to read of casualties without thinking of the human sacrifice). The humanization is hard because you get to slightly know the men and are more unnerved when they are grievously wounded or killed.
The combat descriptions, as told to Zaroya by the men who experienced it, are gripping. I would like to say hard to put down, but that is not true because the descriptions of the action are so intense that you find yourself putting it down briefly to get a break. Zaroya’s writing is magnificent and powerful.
The emotions brought forth by Zaroya’s writing are powerful. More than once, I found myself wiping away a tear after reading about the fate of a paratrooper.
A refreshing change from some of the books on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that Zaroya is not all rah rah U.S.A. He subtly points out the mistakes and deficiencies of American commanders. He also gives respect and admiration to the execution of well-planned attacks by the Taliban and other enemy fighters. He gathers this respect from the paratroopers who fought them. As in Vietnam, the Americans in Afghanistan depend on firepower to equal the troop disparity. However, also as in Vietnam, the Taliban have learned to “hug” the American positions to try to neutralize that superior firepower.
A gripping and enduring tribute to the men of the “Chosen Few.”