'The Outpost' by Jake Tapper: ABC Journalist Honors Fallen Soldiers, Their Stories with New Book
As he examined his newborn son in a Washington D.C. hospital room, everything suddenly snapped into focus for Jake Tapper. At that moment he knew exactly what he had to do. Holding his son for the first time, he heard a newstory about Combat Outpost Keating, an obscure U.S. outpost in Afghanistan attacked mercilessly by insurgents. Why had no one covered this before? To honor those brave men who gave their lives for their country, Tapper vowed to write their story.
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Recently released, "The Outpost," is the fruition of that promise. Tapper's book chronicles the story of the far-flung American combat outpost in the far reaches of northern Afghanistan, and describes how the soldiers of Combat Outpost Keating, far away from the nearest base and surrounded by insurgents, survived in rotten conditions while trying to reach out to the local community, but were nonetheless attacked by hundreds of local men who killed eight Americans and wounded 22 in October 2009.
"The story was just bizarre at first - the outpost had been put at the bottom of three steep mountains just 14 miles from the Pakistan border, and no one seemed to have any idea why the troops were put in such a dangerous place," Tapper said in a recent interview with Buzz Feed.
He continued, "In subsequent weeks and months I tried to find out more about the battle, the bravery of the troops, and about why Combat Outpost Keating had been put there. But there wasn't much information that came out. So I started making calls, contacting soldiers who had been there."
As Tapper spoke to soldiers that had lived through the Camp Outpost Keating nightmare, he became inspired, realizing the reality of the war he had covered from safety was a much different monster than what's regularly reported on.
"Their tales were tragic and inspiring and cinematic; every one of the eight U.S. troops killed that day died while either fighting the enemy or trying to help a fellow soldier. The palm of courage. And frankly eye-opening. I'd been covering the war from the comfort of the North Lawn of the White House, but I realized there was a great deal I didn't know or understand. That desire to learn more, to plug in holes in my own understanding of war, eventually became a book contract to tell the story of the outpost."
"They faced down 400 Taliban," he said. "And it was weird because I was holding my son and hearing about eight other sons being taken from this world. And it became a mystery that I wanted to solve - why would anybody put a base there, who were these guys, what's it like to be in such a precarious and vulnerable place facing this onslaught from Taliban fighters? And it became a real mission and cause for me, and it became this book three years later."
ABC News' senior White House correspondent, Tapper also addressed the David Petraeus scandal in the book. Although, as he admitted to Politico, he didn't hear any whispers of an affair while he was reporting. "These guys were a world away," said Tapper to Politico.
"To think about Petraeus bringing Paula Broadwell with him to Afghanistan in the context of what these guys went through in my book - it's just unbelievable," he said. "And it also makes me offended because, why was he bringing a biographer with him? Why wasn't he bringing somebody to write this book, my book, telling the story of the troops?"
"It's just so narcissistic," Tapper said.
"This book focuses on a battle in which there are eight guys who are killed," he added. "And I could rattle off their names right now. Behind every one of those guys there's a grieving mom or widow or brother or sister, or a child who will never know their dad. Those numbers now mean much more to me than 40,000, 30,000, and I think I have a much richer understanding of war."