On Oct. 3, 2009, an overwhelming force of 200 to 300 Taliban soldiers attacked 50 troops defending Command Outpost Keating in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan. "Red Platoon" is the story of that clash, written by a soldier who won a Medal of Honor for his efforts there.
While this battle received extensive news coverage and was also the subject of Jake Tapper's excellent book "The Outpost," nothing I've read prepared me for this detailed account of what proved to be a 13-hour fray. It is so well written you're likely to feel you're in the middle of the action.
You are also likely to feel considerable anxiety. While technically a victory — the Taliban lost between 100 and 150 men and failed to capture the outpost while "only" eight Americans died — it was a battle that never should have taken place. Keating was "an illustration of the worst possible place to build a firebase," in a valley that afforded the enemy cover and line of sight from the surrounding mountains.
If that weren't sufficient advantage for the Taliban, Afghan troops deserted their posts when the attack began.
"Red Platoon" will make you marvel at the courage of our young men in the face of a much larger force and the stupidity of the generals who put them there.
Curt Schleier is a critic in New Jersey.