Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

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Penguin, 2004 - Political Science - 695 pages
383 Reviews
From the managing editor of the Washington Post, a news-breaking account of the CIA's involvement in the covert wars in Afghanistan that fueled Islamic militancy and gave rise to bin Laden's al Qaeda.

For nearly the past quarter century, while most Americans were unaware, Afghanistan has been the playing field for intense covert operations by U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies-invisible wars which sowed the seeds of the September 11 attacks and which provide its context. From the Soviet invasion in 1979 through the summer of 2001, the CIA, KGB, Pakistan's ISI, and Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Department all operated directly and secretly in Afghanistan. They primed Afghan factions with cash and weapons, secretly trained guerrilla forces, funded propaganda, and manipulated politics. In the midst of these struggles bin Laden conceived and then built his global organization.

Comprehensively and for the first time, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll tells the secret history of the CIA's role in Afghanistan, from its covert program against Soviet troops from 1979 to 1989, to the rise of the Taliban and the emergence of bin Laden, to the secret efforts by CIA officers and their agents to capture or kill bin Laden in Afghanistan after 1998. Based on extensive firsthand accounts, Ghost Warsok is the inside story that goes well beyond anything previously published on U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. It chronicles the roles of midlevel CIA officers, their Afghan allies, and top spy masters such as Bill Casey, Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki al Faisal, and George Tenet. And it describes heated debates within the American government and the often poisonous, mistrustful relations between the CIA and foreign intelligence agencies.

Ghost Warsanswers the questions so many have asked since the horrors of September 11: To what extent did America's best intelligence analysts grasp the rising threat of Islamist radicalism? Who tried to stop bin Laden and why did they fail?
  

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Great overview; top-notch reporting; great writing. - Goodreads
Educational AND a bit depressing. - Goodreads
Well written and research. - Goodreads
The book reads like a sad movie you know the ending to. - Goodreads
Comprehensive and easy to read. - Goodreads
Big on blow-by-blow, utterly devoid of insight. - Goodreads

Review: Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

User Review  - Carolyn Moon - Goodreads

This and The Looming Tower provide a good background on what happened in the years before 9/11. It looks at what the CIA might have done better to track terrorists in the US if the CIA's ... Read full review

Review: Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

User Review  - George Sorbane - Goodreads

One cannot help but marvel the dedication, skills and patriotism of the people of the CIA and the Special Forces of USA, always in harms way, but rarely given the recognition and respect they so ... Read full review

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Contents

Were Going to Die Here
29
Lenin Taught Us
38
Go Raise Hell
53
Afghanistan xriiixix
74
Dont Make It Our War
89
Who Is This Massoud?
107
Massoud at War 19831985
115
The Terrorists Will Own the World
125
PART THREE THE DISTANT ENEMY
369
You Are to Capture Him Alive
371
Bin Ladens Tarnak Farm 592
392
The Kingdoms Interests
397
We Are at War
416
Lets Just Blow the Thing Up
437
The Manson Family
451
That Unit Disappeared
470

Inshallah You Will Know My Plans
147
PART TWO THE ONEEYED MAN WAS KING
187
A Rogue Elephant
205
We Are in Danger
225
A Friend of Your Enemy
240
Maintain a Prudent Distance 237
257
A New Generation
266
Slowly Slowly Sucked into It
280
Dangling the Carrot
301
We Couldnt Indict Him
314
Were Keeping These Stingers
336
Does America Need the CIA?
353
The CIA in the Panjshir 19972000
478
You Crazy White Guys
487
Is There Any Policy?
504
Daring Me to Kill Them
520
What Face Will Omar Show to God? m
538
Many Americans Are Going to Die
553
What an Unlucky Countrv
567
Notes
577
Bibliography
653
Acknowledgments
665
Index
669
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Steve Coll, winner of a 1990 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism, has been managing editor of the Washington Postsince 1998 and covered Afghanistan as the Post's South Asia bureau chief between 1989 and 1992. Coll is the author of four books, including On the Grand Trunk Roadand The Taking of Getty Oil.

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