If you're looking for a true story that showcases both American heroism and Afghani humanity, Marcus Luttrell's Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 (Little, Brown, $24.99), written with Patrick Robinson, may be the book for you. In June of 2005, Luttrell led a four-man team of Navy SEALs into the mountains of Afghanistan on a mission to kill a Taliban leader thought to be allied with Osama bin Laden. On foot, the team encountered two adult men and a teenage boy. A debate broke out as to whether the SEALs should summarily execute the trio to keep them from alerting the Taliban. Luttrell himself was called upon to make the decision. He was torn between considerations of morality and his survival instinct, and he points out that "any government that thinks war is somehow fair and subject to rules like a baseball game probably should not get into one. Because nothing's fair in war, and occasionally the wrong people do get killed."
Luttrell opted to spare the Afghanis' lives. About an hour later, the Taliban launched an attack that claimed nearly a hundred of their own men but also the lives of all the SEALs except Luttrell, who was left wounded.
Not long after that, the Taliban shot down an American rescue helicopter, killing all 16 men on board. Luttrell is sure that the three Afghanis he let go turned around and betrayed the SEALs.
But if nothing is fair in war, neither is anything foreordained. Luttrell was found by other Afghanis, one of whom claimed to be his village's doctor. Once again, Luttrell had to rely on his instincts. "There was something about him," Luttrell writes. "By now I'd seen a whole lot of Taliban warriors, and he looked nothing like any of them. There was no arrogance, no hatred in his eyes." Luttrell trusted the man and his colleagues, who took him back to their village, where the law of hospitality -- "strictly nonnegotiable" -- took hold. "They were committed to defend me against the Taliban," Luttrell writes, "until there was no one left alive."
The law held, and Luttrell survived, returned home and received the Navy Cross for combat heroism from President Bush.
Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10. Now who will star in the movie?