Eagle Down

The Last Special Forces Fighting the Forever War


By Jessica Donati

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Wall Street Journal national security reporter takes readers into the lives of frontline U.S. special operations troops fighting to keep the Taliban and Islamic State from overthrowing the U.S.-backed government in the final years of the war in Afghanistan.  

“Powerful, important, and searing." —General David Petraeus, U.S. Army (ret.), former commander, U.S. Central Command, former CIA director

In 2015, the White House claimed triumphantly that “the longest war in American history” was over. But for some, it was just the beginning of a new war, fought by Special Operations Forces, with limited resources, little governmental oversight, and contradictory orders.
With big picture insight and on-the-ground grit, Jessica Donati shares the stories of the impossible choices these soldiers must make. After the fall of a major city to the Taliban that year, Hutch, a battle-worn Green Beret on his fifth combat tour was ordered on a secret mission to recapture it and inadvertently called in an airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital, killing dozens. Caleb stepped on a bomb during a mission in notorious Sangin. Andy was trapped with his team during a raid with a crashed Black Hawk and no air support.
Through successive policy directives under the Obama and Trump administrations, America came to rely almost entirely on US Special Forces, and without a long-term plan, failed to stabilize Afghanistan, undermining US interests both at home and abroad.
Eagle Down is a riveting account of the heroism, sacrifice, and tragedy experienced by those that fought America’s longest war.



THERE ARE FIVE active duty Special Forces Groups in the US Army. Historically, each has a primary geographic area of responsibility:

1st Special Forces Group: Asia Pacific

3rd Special Forces Group: Sub-Saharan Africa

5th Special Forces Group: Middle East and Central Asia

7th Special Forces Group: Latin America

10th Special Forces Group: Europe, North Africa

The National Guard has two Special Forces Groups:

19th Special Forces Group

20th Special Forces Group

Each active duty Special Forces Group is made up of four battalions.

Operational Detachment Alpha or A-Team

An Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) is the twelve-man team that makes up each building block of the Special Forces. There are usually six ODAs in a Special Forces company. Each team member has a specialized role, denoted by a number and letter, often described as below:

Team leader (18A): captain, or detachment commander

Team sergeant (180A): senior enlisted member of the detachment, oversees operations and personnel

Warrant officer (18Z, or “Zulu”): executive officer implementing plans, advises captain on operations and intelligence

Intelligence sergeant (18F, or “Fox”): intelligence collection and analysis

Two weapons sergeants (18B, or “Bravo”): specialized in a range of weapon systems

Two engineer sergeants (18C, or “Charlie”): combat and construction engineering

Two medical sergeants (18D, or “Delta”): trauma and routine medical care

Two communications sergeants (18E, or “Echo”): radio and other communication

Operational Detachment Bravo or B-Team

The Special Forces team that commands and supports the ODAs or A-Teams in the company.

Operational Detachment Charlie or C-Team

The Special Forces battalion headquarters that commands and supports the companies in the battalion.


Useful acronyms to know in Afghanistan:

ANA-TF: Afghan National Army Territorial Force

AOB: advanced operations base, the headquarters for an area

CONOP: concept of operations, the plan for the mission

GFC: ground force commander, the commander of all forces involved in an operation

IED: improvised explosive device

NDS: National Directorate of Security, the Afghan intelligence agency

ODA: Operational Detachment Alpha, the twelve-man team that makes up the fighting blocks of US Special Forces

OFS: Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the unilateral US counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan

RPG: rocket-propelled grenade launcher

RS: Resolute Support, the US and NATO mission in Afghanistan

SOF: US Special Operations Forces, includes US Air Force, US Army, US Marine Corps, and US Navy Special Operations Forces

SOJTF: Special Operations Joint Task Force, leads US and NATO Special Operations forces in Afghanistan

SOTF: Special Operations Task Force, leads US Army Special Forces in Afghanistan

VSO: Village Stability Operations, a US military program that ran from 2010 to 2014 that tasked Green Berets with raising village-level militias to fight the Taliban


Parts One and Two

Military Characters

US Commanders

Gen. John F. Campbell: US and NATO forces commander in Afghanistan

Maj. Gen. Sean P. Swindell: Special Operations Joint Task Force–Afghanistan (SOJTF) commander

Brig. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind: Special Operations Joint Task Force–Afghanistan (SOJTF) deputy commander

1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne)

Lt. Col. Jason Johnston: 1st Battalion commander


Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne)

Maj. Michael “Hutch” Hutchinson: Charlie Company commander

ODA 3111, Camp Pamir, Kunduz

Josh Middlebrook: Delta

Benjamin Vontz: Echo

ODA 3133, Bagram Airfield, Parwan

Patrick Harrigan: captain

ODA 3135, Camp Morehead, Kabul


Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne)

Maj. Ronnie Gabriel (pseudonym): Alpha Company commander

ODA 9123 (Attachment from Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Group), Camp Antonik, Helmand

Caleb Brewer: Fox

Chris Clary: Bravo

ODA 9115, Camp Morehead, Kabul

Andy MacNeil: captain

Dan Gholston: team sergeant

Matthew McClintock: engineer

Jordan Avery: Bravo

ODA 9114, Camp Brown, Kandahar

Jeffrey McDonald: captain

Civilian Characters

Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders)

Dr. Evangeline Cua: surgeon, Kunduz Trauma Hospital

Dr. Masood Nasim: medical director, Kunduz Trauma Hospital

Guilhem Molinie: country director, Kabul

National Security Council

Susan Rice: national security adviser (2013–2017)

Peter Lavoy: South Asia director (2015–2017)

Fernando Lujan: Afghanistan director, South Asia director (2015–2017)

State Department (US Envoys for Afghan Peace)

Rick Olson: special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (2015–2016)

Parts Three and Four

Military Characters and Places

US Commanders

Gen. John W. Nicholson: US and NATO forces commander in Afghanistan (until 2018)

Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller: US and NATO forces commander in Afghanistan (2018 onward)

3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne)

Lt. Col. Joshua Thiel: 3rd Battalion commander

ODA 1331, Camp Blackbeard, Nangarhar

David Kim: captain

Civilian Characters

National Security Council

H. R. McMaster: national security adviser (2017–2018)

Lisa Curtis: South Asia director (2017 onward)

State Department (US Envoys for Afghan Peace)

Laurel Miller: acting special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (2016–2017)

Zalmay Khalilzad: special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation (2018 onward)


Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, our combat mission in Afghanistan is ending, and the longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion.

—President Barack Obama1

THIS BOOK follows several teams of Green Berets from their arrival in Afghanistan in 2015, the first year after most US troops had left, through the many changes in policy that occurred over the next five years of war. It ends with the US signing of a deal with the Taliban in February 2020, which once again set the United States on a path for the complete withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

I lived in Kabul during the first years covered in the book, working as The Wall Street Journal’s Afghanistan bureau chief. I later moved to Washington, DC, to cover foreign policy for the paper. During both the Obama and Trump presidencies, Afghanistan policy seemed to be in constant flux. Both presidents sought to exit the long-running war, and both faced resistance by the national security establishment.

On December 28, 2014, President Barack Obama announced that the Afghan war was over and promised to deliver on a campaign pledge to end the costly engagement in Afghanistan, with all remaining troops scheduled to return home within two years. Less than a year later, the Taliban swept into the northern city of Kunduz and captured their first province. It was a stunning defeat for the US-backed government and a sign of the decline in security to come. The collapse exposed the flawed plan to turn over the war to the Afghan government and extract the United States from the long conflict. The reconstruction effort had empowered local warlords and made an industry out of corruption. The government was weak, and injustice fueled the Taliban insurgency. US Special Forces and Afghan commandos were dispatched to save the province. Ripple effects were felt across the country, and Helmand nearly fell next.

The situation left President Obama with a difficult choice. There were still ninety-eight hundred US troops in Afghanistan. He could pull them out as planned by 2017 or stay in and hand the war over to his successor. The original mission that had launched the war, to hunt down Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, along with many of his supporters, was complete. But an abrupt US exit raised the specter of the civil war of the 1990s, which took place after the Soviet withdrawal and had led to the rise of the Taliban in the first place.

Iraq was another lesson that loomed large. President Obama ordered a unilateral withdrawal of US troops in 2011, which accelerated the country’s descent into chaos and gave rise to Islamic State. The extremist group inspired one of the greatest movements of jihadists the world had seen in years and soon pulled US troops back to Iraq and into neighboring Syria. In Afghanistan, an Islamic State affiliate had quickly taken root as this was playing out in the Middle East.

Ultimately, President Obama abandoned the plan to withdraw from Afghanistan and turned the war over to secretive US Special Operations Forces (SOF) while denying that this amounted to a break in his campaign pledge. US SOF, which operate in the shadows with little accountability to the public, have kept the Kabul administration on life support ever since. The US mission in Afghanistan is no longer framed as a war. It is now called a training and assistance mission, and its purported goal is to help the government achieve self-reliance. As a foreign correspondent in Afghanistan, I found reporting on the role of US SOF in the conflict at this new stage in the war to be my greatest challenge.

At the WSJ bureau in Kabul, I was lucky to work with a great team of two reporters: Habib Khan Totakhil and Ehsanullah Amiri. They were both in their twenties, were passionate about journalism, and remembered watching the US invasion as children, when they were living as refugees across the border in Pakistan. Our bureau was located in a house that must have once belonged to a wealthy Afghan family; we shared it with the Washington Post’s Kabul bureau to save costs. Our offices were in rooms at the back of the garden, and I converted the garage into a gym, where we had an old Chinese treadmill that would stop dead during power outages.

The US military rarely granted embeds with US Army Special Forces, known as the Green Berets. The few reporters that were granted access were based in Washington, DC, and even then, embeds were limited. Foreign correspondents never got to embed, probably because we were too critical of the mission. But as I discovered, there was another way to get in: through the Afghan forces that operated as the Green Berets’ partners, fixers, and translators.

US Special Forces worked with a range of Afghan partners, depending on the circumstances and the location, from ragtag village groups to elite Afghan army commandos.

If we wanted to find out what was going on in the east against the new Islamic State affiliate, we traveled with village militias in Achin or Kot district. When Kunduz fell a second time, we embedded with the Afghan commandos that partnered with Green Berets to recapture the city in 2016. It was a riskier way to work. The US military used helicopters to shuttle personnel among their many bases, including those located barely a mile apart in different locations in Kabul. Afghan forces generally moved by road and expected us to drive to them, no matter how remote the location. Hitching a ride on an Afghan army helicopter was possible, but rare. Our Afghan hosts often displayed extraordinary bravery and hospitality, but they necessarily had a cavalier approach to safety, adding to the dangers we faced during embeds.

We prepared for trips as best we could. Information was critical. The same highway might be under police control between ten a.m. and four p.m., and then under Taliban control at night. Luck played a part as well. I was once caught in a Taliban ambush in the Surobi valley in broad daylight, an area known to be a death trap for Afghan forces traveling east out of Kabul.

I would sit in my blue burqa in the backseat of the vehicle, typing away under the folds of the flowing fabric. My Afghan colleague, Habib, was more likely to be stopped by the police than by the Taliban. He had long, jet-black hair and a beard, and he towered over six feet. He looked like a Taliban in the pale blue salwar kameez that he wore for such expeditions, with large, dirty, white sneakers. The advantage of traveling like this, of course, was that we had much greater freedom and flexibility than a closely controlled embed with the US military would get.

As the war worsened, so did the anger and frustration of the Afghan soldiers and villagers who spent time with us. Insider attacks, in which Afghans turned on their US or coalition partners, were common and never far from our minds. In 2014, an Afghan policeman had fired at two Associated Press colleagues in Khost province just before the presidential elections, killing photographer Anja Niedringhaus and severely wounding reporter Kathy Gannon.

The second time the city of Kunduz fell seemed to be a turning point. The US military once again dispatched teams of Green Berets to help the Afghan commandos rescue the province, while outwardly denying a role in the battle. At The Wall Street Journal Kabul bureau, we knew that US Special Forces had a critical role in the operation to recapture the city. But how had the battle played out? Would it show the scope of the US military’s operations in Afghanistan and reveal the truth behind the White House’s claim that the United States was no longer in combat? We felt confident that we could answer these questions if we could get into Kunduz, and we believed that the story was worth the risk. It became the story that motivated me to write this book.

Habib, who had a great relationship with the ministry of defense, obtained papers granting us an embed with the Afghan army’s 10th Special Operations Kandak; they were delivered in a sealed envelope with an inky blue stamp. I looked at commercial flight options. The closest we could get to Kunduz was Badakhshan. We planned to stop overnight to see the governor in Takhar province, a contact of mine, and drive to Kunduz the following day.

We set off with a photographer, Andrew Quilty. The drive to Kunduz on the second day was perhaps the riskiest part of the journey. The Taliban controlled the countryside, and our best bet was to drive in the middle of the day. We attached ourselves to an Afghan civilian convoy providing aid to the city and drove through villages where white Taliban flags flapped in the wind and the insurgents set up roadblocks at night. In the afternoon, we reached the Afghan army’s headquarters in Kunduz, where we knew that there were two teams of Green Berets based in the province.

We were led straight into the commander’s office, interrupting a meeting with a bearded American Special Forces captain, who was chewing tobacco and spitting into a bottle. Everyone seemed startled to see us. A large map was spread over the coffee table, and the captain cut a muscular figure next to the Afghan soldier sitting beside him. They all stared at us.

“How did you get here?” the captain asked when we were outside.

“We drove from Badakhshan,” I told him, “through Khanabad.”

He couldn’t believe we had made it.

“Well, do you want to stay with us? I mean, I figure, culturally, it would be better for you to stay on our side,” he offered.

We gratefully accepted rooms in the tiny Special Forces camp, which was located inside the larger Afghan commando base. It had clean showers and food. There was no question of a shower on the Afghan base, where the stench in the bathrooms was enough to make your stomach turn. It was too good to be true, and it wasn’t to last. As soon as US headquarters in Kabul found out we were there, the Green Berets were ordered to kick us out.

“You’re putting our lives in danger,” I complained to Brigadier General Charlie Cleveland, the head of public affairs, on the phone.

I dramatically listed the risks of staying in the Afghan commando barracks, including the possibility of an insider attack, but he wouldn’t hear of our remaining in the Special Forces camp. We returned to the commander of the Afghan army’s 10th Special Operations Kandak to ask for lodging. He tried to refuse to take us in, but our embed papers were good, and Habib made some calls to Kabul that cemented our position. The commander was stuck with us. We moved into the commando barracks and went with them on day and night patrols. Habib had a touch when it came to collecting stories about their hopes, regrets, and dreams. He heard how one commando had fallen in love with a village girl while posted out in a district. Others talked about corruption and, occasionally, guilt. In the evenings, we sat outside under the stars trying to get reception while Habib played American pop music like Eminem and Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie.”

Over the course of a week, we got to know some of the Afghan commandos, and a few US soldiers too, and managed to patch together the story of how they had recaptured Kunduz. Two teams of Green Berets had fought alongside the Afghan commandos in the city for days, backed by US airstrikes. Kunduz was under government control again, but everyone cautioned that it wouldn’t be for long. The Afghan government was corrupt, and the Afghan army’s leadership stole money that was meant for supplies like food and fuel. Afghan commandos were abandoned on frontline posts for weeks without resupply.

The US and Afghan soldiers were preparing for a night raid to kill or capture a local Taliban commander when we left. A few days later, when we were back in Kabul, news broke that the raid had gone horribly wrong. The soldiers had gotten trapped in the village of Boz Kandahari and fought all night to get out alive. An AC-130 gunship attacked the village to help them escape, killing thirty-three civilians, including many children. In the morning, angry villagers paraded their tiny, bloodied, dusty bodies in the streets. Two American soldiers and three Afghan commandos were dead, and many others wounded.

The Pentagon still refused to discuss the role that SOF were playing in keeping Kunduz under government control and provided no explanation for the village raid, which the soldiers had told us aimed to capture or kill a local Taliban commander. The whole thing was framed as a training mission. “The service members came under fire during a train, advise and assist mission with our Afghan partners to clear a Taliban position and disrupt the group’s operations in Kunduz district,” a statement said.

I looked at the footage of the grieving families carrying their dead children and found it hard to square with the kindness we had seen from the US soldiers in Kunduz.

The Wall Street Journal published the Kunduz story soon after, describing the role played by Special Forces in the recapture of the city and in the broader fight to save several other provinces also on the brink, such as Helmand, Uruzgan, Farah, and Baghlan. The newly elected president, Donald Trump, we predicted, would be faced with a tough choice: escalate the secret war, or allow Afghanistan to slip out of grasp.

A few days later, I received a letter from the grieving mother-in-law of one of the US soldiers killed in that raid, Captain Andrew D. Byers. Her daughter had opened the paper and read our article, which was dated November 18, 2016. The two had been married for seven years. The mother-in-law wrote:

Andy is a casualty of a policy without clear purpose, in a seemingly endless war. It is easy to want to make heroes out of people in this circumstance. The term hero is too strong. What is worth noting is that there are men and women who choose to serve, and in many ways, give up their freedom by serving.

Andy was a soldier, doing his job with honor. He embodied respect, responsibility, and hard work. These qualities are becoming more difficult to identify in a world where being a victim is esteemed.

Thank you for the commentary that highlights the need for those who govern to consider the impact of the war. What a sad way for our country to lose good people.

—Laura Crites

Back in Afghanistan, we felt the losses at home as well. Toryalai, one of our drivers, lost his twenty-one-year-old brother, who had worked with the National Directorate of Security, the Afghan intelligence agency, in Kunduz. The kid was ordered out on a mission and shot dead by a sniper. I visited their family home with the Journal bureau staff and went to the women’s side with our cleaning ladies, known as khalas or aunties, to meet the grieving mother and sister. Everywhere, women were wailing. The khalas immediately started crying as well. The war had taken a toll on everyone. The cries coming from the women weren’t about a single loss. They contained all their losses, the decades of war, and the losses to come—the helplessness of it all.

I thought about the number of Afghan forces killed in the war that year—was it five thousand? Or eight thousand? I tried to imagine the grief that I was witnessing in our driver’s home, multiplied a thousand times, day after day, year after year. How could one country contain so much grief? I thought about how the US military officials and diplomats informally called the casualty rates among the Afghan army and police “unsustainable.” This one death seemed unsustainable to me.

Today, casualty figures in Afghanistan are a closely guarded secret to avoid hurting morale. But in the first four years of the new mission that was launched in 2015, some forty-five thousand Afghan army troops and police officers were reportedly killed. Most Americans have forgotten the war in Afghanistan. But to the soldiers I write about in this book, who have served multiple deployments there in service of the War on Terror, Afghanistan is like a second home.

US SOF keep the country intact, providing just enough support through airstrikes and joint operations to prevent the Taliban from seizing major cities. Their sacrifices, such as they are, remain unsung. The war continues in the shadows, the violence worsening by the day. The White House calls the SOF troops “advisers” instead of soldiers and describes battles like the ones fought in Kunduz as “training missions.” A handful of American soldiers give their lives each year in the same places: Nangarhar, Kunduz, Helmand, Kabul. The low number of American body bags keeps the war out of public debate, while little thought is given to the Afghan forces and civilians bearing the brunt of the violence year after year.

President Donald Trump inherited this mode of warfare and ramped it up to address the deteriorating conditions on the ground. Like his predecessor, he has struggled to extract himself from the Afghan war. The effort to negotiate a deal with the Taliban to withdraw all US troops was publicly rebuked by retired generals and diplomats, who warned of the risk that al Qaeda might resurge if the United States leaves Afghanistan. When an agreement was signed in February 2020, critics charged that it amounted to selling out the Afghan government and endangered the US investment in Afghanistan.

US troops are currently scheduled to depart Afghanistan in early 2021, but the conditions attached to the withdrawal leave open the possibility of prolonging the war beyond that date. Provisions such as certifying that the Taliban have broken ties with al Qaeda, or that violence has decreased, seem subjective at best. In addition, little progress has been made so far in starting a genuine dialogue between Afghan groups to end the conflict, another condition for the US withdrawal.

It’s not just Afghanistan. Historically, US SOF have been deployed all over the world, from Iraq and Syria to Libya and Yemen. A little-talked-about SOF mission still operates in the African countries of Niger and Mali against extremist groups linked to Islamic State, al Qaeda, and others. In all these battlefields, the complexity of local dynamics undercuts the simple good-versus-evil narrative. The conflicts are often fueled by scarcity of resources, tribal disputes, and long-standing ethnic rivalries left over from colonial eras. We in the media never question the counterterrorism argument, and so the wars continue in shadows with no end in sight.

“A perpetual war—through drones or Special Forces or troop deployments—will prove self-defeating, and alter our country in troubling ways,” President Obama said in a 2013 address promising to end the war in Afghanistan the following year.

But that’s exactly what he started.

US Special Forces led the invasion in 2001 to oust the Taliban and chase down the leader of al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden. Green Berets were the first to arrive in Afghanistan with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) that year, riding over the mountains on horseback alongside Afghan warlords. Now, twenty years later, they are the ones still left on the front lines of the war.


1 Statement by the president on the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan, December 28, 2014.




Back to War


MAJOR MICHAEL HUTCHINSON was at 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina, preparing to deploy to Afghanistan in the summer of 2015. He was thirty-five and, with fair hair and blue eyes, still fresh-faced. The other soldiers called him Hutch. This would be his fifth combat deployment, counting three tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq. He’d spent the last year in California, completing a degree in unconventional warfare at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, where he wrote academic papers converting his experiences in Afghanistan into theory and passed easily. He had felt renewed after his time on the sunny California coast with his family. Now, however, he felt apprehensive about the upcoming deployment.


  • “Afghanistan is one of the most dangerous countries in the world, and U.S. Special Forces are one of the most secretive groups in America's military. That Jessica Donati managed to crack both and write a book that is both brutally honest and deeply compassionate about this elite group is a journalistic triumph. It is beautifully written, impossible to put down and deeply terrifying for anyone who has worked in that country. She's one of those writers who makes me deeply proud of my profession.”Sebastian Junger, New York Times best-selling author
  • “Donati’s book has a particular resonance. Her closely reported story of US special forces operations in Afghanistan captures much of the chaos and tragedy of the conflict and the human costs involved.”—Financial Times, Best Books of 2021: Politics
  • "Donati's on-the-ground account-and it's clear that she put herself in constant danger to tell the soldiers' stories even as American officials dithered about how to deploy those troops-is sometimes as hallucinatory as Dispatches and as taut and well written as Mark Bowden's now-classic book...Exemplary journalism and a powerful argument for not putting soldiers in harm's way unless we're sure we know why."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
  • “Skillfully interweaving big-picture policy analysis with frontline reporting, Donati shines a stark light on this shadowy conflict. The result is a distressing yet vital update on America’s longest war.”—Publishers Weekly
  • “The book hits its mark in its sympathetic portrayal of the boots on the ground, in particular the Special Forces and Green Berets of Operational Detachment Alpha. Their frustrations at the human costs, from deaths to homesickness to mission futility, will resonate with readers.”—Booklist
  • Eagle Down is a gripping story of a war most Americans had thought was over or had wrongly forgotten about entirely.”—The Diplomatic Courier
  • "The book’s interweaving narrative style paired with Donati’s meticulous reporting makes Eagle Down as engaging and touching as it is insightful."—Stars and Stripes
  • “Highly enlightening.. [an] incisive and brutally frank account.”—The New York Journal of Books
  • “[Donati’s] vivid, uncompromising reporting presents U.S. politicians and senior military commanders as disconnected from the reality of the war as they flounder in search of a satisfactory way out of it.”—Foreign Affairs
  • “Ultimately this book is about tragedy, the tragedy of loss, the tragedy of bad decisions, and the tragedy of futility.  But it is also a book of survival, perseverance and personal strength.  More importantly it’s a book that doesn’t pull any punches. If you are looking for a story that depicts Green Berets as comic book super heroes then you came to the wrong place.  If, however, you are looking for an unvarnished depiction of the successes, failures, and losses of men who have put everything on the line for the things they believe in then Eagle Down is for you.”—Small Wars Journal
  • “A memorable portrait of Americans fighting in Afghanistan over the last six years. Donati does an especially good job at portraying the combat in Kunduz in October 2015…an important story about limited warfare.”—The New York Times Book Review
  • “Jessica Donati deserves a Pulitzer Prize for this extraordinary book about America’s continued behind the scenes fighting in Afghanistan’s “Forever War.”—The San Francisco Book Review
  • “Jessica Donati’s excellent but tragic book… Eagle Down will rank among the most impactful books I have read about military affairs. A terrific book, written by an engaging author.”—BookMarc
  • “Donati, a veteran Wall Street Journal correspondent, writes a gripping and gut-wrenching account of the battle-weary special forces on the front lines of the war in Afghanistan’s final stages. I couldn’t put it down.—Foreign Policy

On Sale
Jan 19, 2021
Page Count
320 pages

Jessica Donati

About the Author

Jessica Donati covers foreign affairs for the Wall Street Journal in Washington DC, and has reported from more than a dozen countries in the role. She joined the paper as the bureau chief in Kabul in 2015, and lived in Afghanistan for more than four years. Previously, she worked for Reuters in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, covering both the conflicts in Libya and Afghanistan. She co-authored a series on the war in Libya that was chosen as a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting in 2012. She is also the recipient of a New York Press Club award for her reporting in Libya . She is British-Italian, and grew up in Italy. She lives with her husband and son in Washington DC.

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