Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History

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Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003 - History - 550 pages
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From an award-winning 60 Minutes reporter comes the extraordinary story of the largest and most successful CIA operation in history-the arming of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan. After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, pressure mounted for the Americans to support the Afghan resistance. Charlie Wilson, a maverick congressman from East Texas who sat on the powerful House Defense Appropriations Committee, persuaded his colleagues to allocate $10 million to fund the CIA's effort to arm the Mujahideen. Charlie Wilson's War tells the story of what became the largest covert operation in history; funding eventually grew to over $1 billion a year. The book includes an incredible cast of characters: Charlie, the charismatic, hard-partying congressman who raised eyebrows when traveling to Pakistan with unusual companions -- one his personal belly dancer, another an ex-beauty queen -- but was passionate about supporting the Afghans and brilliant at getting deals done. Gust Avrakotos, a working-class Greek among Ivy Leaguers at the CIA who set up the team that ran the largest operation in the history of the CIA. President Zia of Pakistan, who became great friends with Charlie and used his leverage to get huge aid dollars as well as keep the West looking away as he built the first Muslim bomb. Moving from the back rooms of the Capitol, to secret chambers at Langley, to arms-dealers conventions, to the Khyber Pass, Charlie Wilson's War is brilliantly reported -- one of the most detailed and compulsively readable accounts of the inside workings of the CIA ever written, with a cast of characters and a plot out of Le Carre or Clancy. This book is a remarkable account of the last battle of the Cold War, a battle that helped weaken the Soviet Union and led to its collapse and, of course, paved the way to the rise of the Taliban, with consequences that we are dealing with today.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Gmomaj - LibraryThing

This is an amazing story based on real people and events that were undertaken with the best of intentions, and unexpected results. This New York Times best-seller is the untold story behind the last ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - robeik - LibraryThing

Why read fiction when you can read books like this one? You just can't make this stuff up. But taking a few steps back. The British and the Americans have had interests in Middle East since the 1800s ... Read full review

About the author (2003)

George Crile III (March 5, 1945 - May 15, 2006) was an American journalist most closely associated with his three decades of work at CBS News. After studies at the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and Trinity College, Hartford, Crile worked as a reporter for Washington columnists Drew Pearson and Jack Anderson, and as the Pentagon correspondent for Ridder Newspapers. Crile came from a line of pioneering surgeons. His grandfather, Dr. George Washington Crile, was a founder of the Cleveland Clinic. His father, Dr. George Crile, Jr., was a leading figure in the United States in challenging unnecessary surgery, best known for his part in eliminating radical breast surgery. Crile was both a producer and reporter for CBS. His career with the company spanned three decades until his death in 2006. Before joining CBS at the age of 31, Crile was Washington Editor of Harper's Magazine. In addition to Harper's, his articles were published in The Washington Monthly, New Times, The Washington Post Outlook Section and The New York Times. In the late 1980s, Crile began the research and reporting on the Afghan War that led to his 2003 best-selling book, Charlie Wilson's War, which tells the story of how the United States CIA funded the only successful jihad in modern history. The book became a New York Times bestseller again in 2015. Crile died at age 61 from pancreatic cancer.

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