American Spartan - Ann Scott Tyson

American Spartan

By Ann Scott Tyson

  • Release Date: 2014-03-25
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
4.5 Score: 4.5 (From 69 Ratings)


Lawrence of Arabia meets Sebastian Junger's War in this unique, incendiary, and dramatic true story of heroism and heartbreak in Afghanistan written by a Pulitzer Prize–nominated war correspondent.

Army Special Forces Major Jim Gant changed the face of America’s war effort in Afghanistan. A decorated Green Beret who spent years in Afghanistan and Iraq training indigenous fighters, Gant argued for embedding autonomous units with tribes across Afghanistan to earn the Afghans’ trust and transform them into a reliable ally with whom we could defeat the Taliban and counter al-Qaeda networks. The military's top brass, including General David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, approved, and Gant was tasked with implementing his controversial strategy.

Veteran war correspondent Ann Scott Tyson first spoke with Gant when he was awarded the Silver Star in 2007. Tyson soon came to share Gant’s vision, so she accompanied him to Afghanistan, risking her life to embed with the tribes and chronicle their experience. And then they fell in love.

Illustrated with dozens of photographs, American Spartan is their remarkable story—one of the most riveting, emotional narratives of wartime ever published.


  • A biased point of view that has its moments

    By Sim City Tex
    An interesting story that, at times, seems to be filled with the author's embellishments. Would have preferred the book to focus on the story without the author going out of her way to create a defense.
  • Good read

    By pecan50
    And now we know why we can't win in Afghanistan.
  • An Amazing Yet Flawed American Hero: Major Jim Gant in American Spartan

    By Beast a poo
    I just finished reading a book that was very good a couple days ago. It is titled, American Spartan: The Promise, The Mission, and the Betrayal of Special Forces Major Jim Gant. The author is Ann Scott Tyson who is uniquely qualified to give us a intimate and gripping insight into Major Gant as she is his lover and, now, his wife. The book details Major Gant’s revolutionary vision for how to fight the war in Afghanistan and how, as a Green Beret, he carried that vision out during the Afghanistan troop surge. The Major came out with a paper titled One Tribe at a Time and the eventual commander of ISAF forces in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, recognized its value and sought to have its author at the center of its implementation. What entails brings a new perspective on the Afghan people, particularly the Pashtuns of eastern Afghanistan, and will leave you wide eyed over both the brilliance and heroism of Major Gant and the men that served under him, and the total ineptitude of the United States Military to understand the war that they found themselves in the middle of. Also enthralling and heartbreaking is seeing throughout the book how invested Major Gant was in the effort and the toll that his investment took on him both psychologically and professionally. As a Pulitzer Prize-nominated war correspondent, Ann’s ability to write is never in question. The book is well written and flows extremely well. It is one of those works of literature that is very hard to put down when its time for bed. Typically, I would say that something in this genre would only appeal to fans of military history or those learning about the war in Afghanistan but this book transcends that and I think that people who love reading in general will find it both thought provoking and entertaining. One thing that Ann does really well is bring the Pashtuns of the various tribes they met and came to love into a new perspective. Most military books I have read about Afghanistan to this point leave you wondering two things: why are the Afghans so inept and what in the world are we doing there. This book showed me that while Pashtun culture is brutal and simple, it is also beautiful and honorable, wrapped up in the ancient code of Pashtunwali. It also makes the Afghan people truly humanized and made me love them in a deep way. I sympathize that they are simply doing as they always have, surviving, and we, as American’s, simply are not addressing the conflict there in a way that relates or helps a large portion of the Afghan people. This is no slight to our brave men and women in the Armed Forces that have served there, but is a indictment on our politicians and leaders and the strategy that they have employed there. The book does bounce around chronologically a bit, to help the reader gain a greater understanding on Major Gant and the things that shaped his view on war and life, but it remains very easy to follow and read. I like my heroes to be flawed and imperfect. It makes them human to me. And Major Gant is the embodiment of that. He is not only brilliant and a great American but struggles with demons that many Americans do and struggles to deal with the effect of war on his mental and physical well being. Despite his flaws, he is an American hero and it is disgusting and fascinating to watch how egos and politics totally unravel and, eventually, undue him. If you are even remotely interested in the sacrifices our service members are making Afghanistan or in the war there, this book is a must read. It has everything a good story needs: excitement, adventure, betrayal, a strong protagonist, a myriad of antagonists that you wouldn’t expect and love from a variety of sources and contexts.
  • More like a novel

    By Mstrpara
    Hard to write a review of this book. There is no question of MAJ. Gant's bravery and dedication and that he developed and executed a ground breaking strategy. It is too bad that his behavior negated a lot of this, he should have known that could or would happen. He understood the Afghan culture better than his own profession.In my humble opinion he was right about the tribe by tribe or village by village strategy, that is a perfect overlay of the culture and loyalty. When there, I made an effort to understand the culture and loyalties of the Afghan people and I think I was partially successful but it pales in comparison to MAJ. Gant's. He lived it at a level and intensity that few officers or soldiers did. As for the book--probably too many embellishments that make parts of it unbelievable. The book left me sad based on the final outcome. I hope that MAJ. Gant is at peace and happy, wherever he may be.
  • Must read

    By EHNorquist
    Sometimes effective leaders take the non-traditional approach. The book shows positive efforts applied in this very fashion, along with political backlash associated with warriors who don't take the normal path. Must read for those who grasp to understand Afghanistan and America's military presence.
  • An Incredible Story

    By Dan_level9000
    I'll join the ranks of a few others here who knew or served with Jim and Dan. They may never remember me, we we're only at A-Camp Gereshk (later named after CW2 Price who was KIA while we were there) for a short time, but in their way ODA 316 and especially Jim Gant helped shape my thoughts on war and changed the entire direction of my career. This telling of his story kept me up all night afterwards. Thanks to Ann Scott Tyson for capturing the details and living it too.
  • Compelling and amazing

    By Beverly F in GA
    Incredibly well-written. She takes you to the frontlines of both the war and the love story.