Welbeck Publishing Group has acquired First Casualty: The Untold Story of the Battle That Began the War in Afghanistan by Orwell Prize-winner Toby Harnden.
First Casualty will explore "the gripping and definitive" story of what happened in the fateful opening weeks of the Afghanistan war. The publisher explains: "After the 9/11 attacks, two CIA officers, who were among the first Americans dropped behind enemy lines, interrogated 400 Al-Qaeda prisoners in a mud citadel called Qala-I Jangi: the 'fort of war'. The CIA's Mike Spann was killed in the first moments of an uprising, triggering a six-day battle that would prove to be one of the bloodiest of the war. A British Special Boat Service unit, which included a US Navy SEAL, played a decisive role. The battle provided a haunting foretelling of what would become a 20-year conflict."
Wayne Davies, group publisher for adult non-fiction, bought UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) from Julian Alexander at The Soho Agency. Publication is scheduled for 19th August 2021. It will be published in the US by Little, Brown.
Davies said: "I’ve been ready for 10 years to publish Toby’s next book and it’s been well worth the wait. Just like his Orwell-winning Dead Men Risen, it’s a brilliant combination of history, politics, investigative journalism, action, drama and revelation, and it's destined to become another classic."
Harnden commented: "I am delighted that First Casualty is being published in Britain by old friends at Welbeck, the UK’s most exciting and vibrant new publisher. I was a reporter in Washington DC on 9/11 and this is the culmination of 20 years of reporting and research since then in the US, Afghanistan and elsewhere."
Harnden won the Orwell Prize in 2012 for Dead Men Risen: The Welsh Guards and the Defining Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan (Quercus). He is also the author of Bandit Country: The IRA & South Armagh (Coronet, 1999).
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