“Meticulously reported and deftly told, this is the definitive account of the 38 people killed aboard Extortion 17—the largest loss of life in a single incident during the Afghan war. Ed Darack not only debunks the conspiracy theories once and for all; he also honors the pilots, crew, and special operators who perished on that fateful day. This is an important book for anyone who wants to understand the war in Afghanistan and the Americans who have risked their lives fighting it.”
—R. M. Schneiderman, Deputy Editor, Newsweek
“Far more gripping than any thriller, this well-researched and cleanly written account of an American battlefield tragedy is one of the finest books to emerge from our recent wars. Crafted with knowledge of twenty-first-century combat and deep respect for our troops, this book is nonetheless unsparing in its portrait of war’s reality and the toll it takes on flesh-and-blood men in uniform.”
—Ralph Peters, Fox News strategic analyst and author of Lines of Fire
“Darack expertly re-creates the tragedy of Extortion 17. Skillfully reported, the book is a must-read for anyone looking to understand what happened the night Extortion 17 was shot down in Afghanistan.”
—Kevin Maurer, coauthor of No Easy Day
Darack (Victory Point), a military writer and photographer who has embedded with units in Iraq and Afghanistan, shares a well-researched story of the downing of a U.S. Army CH-47D Chinook helicopter, call sign Extortion 17, carrying members of SEAL Team Six in Afghanistan on Aug. 6, 2011. Where previous works on this subject have largely highlighted the operators of SEAL Team Six, Darack focuses his take on the incident—it is the largest single American loss of life in the Afghanistan War, with all 38 on board killed—on the five crew members of the helicopter. As a result, this work is valuable and informative as it describes the critical role Army Aviation played in Iraq and Afghanistan and makes clear the difficulties of flying in the high altitudes of Afghanistan’s mountain ranges. Threats faced by Army Aviation in Iraq and Afghanistan include enemy action (44 helicopters have been shot down in Iraq and Afghanistan with the loss of more than 120 lives), mechanical failure, and shifting weather conditions. Short, clear, and tersely written, Darack’s book is suited to readers interested in military affairs and is a fitting tribute to the Army aviators represented by the crew of Extortion 17. Maps & illus.
Writer and photographer Darack (Victory Point) investigates the destruction of a Chinook helicopter carrying a number of high-profile special operatives, including numerous men from SEAL Team 6, whom are best known for the mission that killed Osama Bin Laden. Darack recounts the circumstances surrounding this August 2011 event, attempting to debunk a theory that claims the aircraft was destroyed in an act of revenge for Bin Laden’s death. Most are aware of the effort to eliminate Bin Laden, but fewer may recall this tragedy with as much clarity, having received far less media exposure. The author provides a thorough treatment of the disaster, with several chapters dedicated to the personnel and the specifications of the aircraft, which may not be captivating to the layperson but would be of interest to military historians. Darack also does an admirable job of demonstrating through science, history, and statistics (owing to the inherent inaccuracy of a rocket-propelled grenade [RPG], it would be a poor choice for such an important “revenge” mission) that vengeance conspiracies could be safely ruled out.
Verdict: This is less of a narrative and more of a march through the events and circumstances, making it ideal for modern history buffs and military historians and perhaps less so for casual readers.—Benjamin Brudner, Curry Coll. Lib., Milton, MA