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

Charlie Wilson s War The Story of the Largest CIA Operation in History Charlie Wilson s War was a publishing sensation and a New York Times Washington Post and Los Angeles Times bestseller In the early s a Houston socialite turned the attention of maverick Texas c

  • Title: Charlie Wilson's War: The Story of the Largest CIA Operation in History
  • Author: George Crile
  • ISBN: 9781843547198
  • Page: 105
  • Format: Paperback
  • Charlie Wilson s War was a publishing sensation and a New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times bestseller In the early 1980s, a Houston socialite turned the attention of maverick Texas congressman Charlie Wilson to the ragged band of Afghan freedom fighters who continued, despite overwhelming odds, to fight the Soviet invaders Wilson, who sat on the all pCharlie Wilson s War was a publishing sensation and a New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times bestseller In the early 1980s, a Houston socialite turned the attention of maverick Texas congressman Charlie Wilson to the ragged band of Afghan freedom fighters who continued, despite overwhelming odds, to fight the Soviet invaders Wilson, who sat on the all powerful House Appropriations Committee, managed to procure hundreds of millions of dollars to support the mujahideen The arms were secretly procured and distributed with the help of an out of favor CIA operative, Gust Avrokotos, whose working class Greek American background made him an anomaly among the Ivy League world of American spies Avrakotos handpicked a staff of CIA outcasts to run his operation and, with their help, continually stretched the Agency s rules to the breaking point Moving from the back rooms of the Capitol, to secret chambers at Langley, to arms dealers conventions, to the Khyber Pass, this book presents an astonishing chapter of our recent past, and the key to understanding what helped trigger the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union and ultimately led to the emergence of a brand new foe in the form of radical Islam.

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    One thought on “Charlie Wilson's War: The Story of the Largest CIA Operation in History

    1. Will Byrnes

      Charlie Wilson's War is a chilling tale of how a few determined people can undermine all existing law, use their positions of power and influence to get unseen funds allocated, and pursue a major war without the approval of the American people. Crile was clearly enamored of Wilson, regarding him as a charismatic, larger-than-life figure, who performed a major service to the West by tipping the Soviet Union over the edge. Crile (foreground) with Wilson (suspenders) and an unnamed ISI agent (shade [...]

    2. Rob Maynard

      Charlie Wilson's war is indispensible for anyone who wants to understand the roots of our current war in Afghanistan. It's also a primer on how Washington worked in the 1970s-1980s under Reagan, Tip O'Neill, and others. Congressman Charlie Wilson and the CIA funneled billions of dollars worth of money and equipment to the Mooj, or Mujahadeen, in Afghanistan to "bleed" the Soviet 40th Army. Every penny, every bullet, went via Pakistan's ISI, as a condition of Pakistan allowing it all. Wilson, his [...]

    3. Leslie

      This book was too long and poorly written. It repeated itself and skipped around quite a bit. It took me a very long time to get through this, despite being interested in the material. The author would have done better with a condensed book that flowed better. The story is over dramatized and extrodinarily biased. I'd like to hear from Casey, George, and others who were denigrated in this book. I think this is overinflated and a very egotistical version of an important turning point in US Histor [...]

    4. Kemper

      This definately falls in the category of truth being stranger than fiction because this story is so unlikely that no one would believe it if it hadn't happened. Not only is there much more detail and depth than the movie even hinted at, it's also a great inside look at how the American government and intelligence community actually work.

    5. Laura

      A drama based on a Texas congressman Charlie Wilson's covert dealings in Afghanistan, where his efforts to assist rebels in their war with the Soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects.A movie was made based on this book (2007), directed by Mike Nichols with Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman.

    6. Richard

      An incredibly entertaining history of Amercia's most successful covert war via proxy. When the Soviets went into Afghanistan, Congressman Charlie Wilson pushed to support the mujaheddin.It's true that this eventually turned against us, providing the training that militarized those who would eventually become terrorists, but those dots wouldn't be connected until many years later. At the time, many thought it plausible that Afghanistan would be solidly a U.S. partisan. The U.S. State Department i [...]

    7. Tim

      I guess now that Tom Hanks starred in a movie based on this book, I'm obligated to write a review. If you're into politics , intrigue, and war stories, this will be your favorite book. It's a completely true story, yet it reads like the best fiction in the genre. The movie covered a lot, but of course, a lot was left out, like Charlie's short marriage and long decline into alcoholism, which was only symbolized in the movie.Charlie Wilson was a Democrat hawk who saved freedom for the world from t [...]

    8. George

      A tremendously fun read and how many books on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the jihad against the Soviets can you say that about? I'd give it 5 stars, if I felt I could trust it completely, but if it isn't entirely true, you'd want it to be. An alcholic dissolute Congressman brings down the Soviet Union, working with renegade CIA agents, right wing Christain fundamentalists aligned with fundalmentalist Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan. How can you not like this story? It's a bit like [...]

    9. Naeem

      This is a popular book which will soon be a film. But more goes on here than meets the eye. On the face of things, it seems like a book about the heroic efforts of a one man to help the Afghan Mujahideen take on the Soviets. But the author is actually telling three stories. The second on is about the journey to find meaningful desire. Charlie Wilson is a wreck of a human who moves from false desire to false desire until he gets to the Mujahideen. The question is: does he ever find his desire? If [...]

    10. John

      I stumbled across a copy of this book while on vacation. I haven't seen the film version as of yet, but I always prefer to read the book if given the choice between the two.This book is an astonishingly well-written report of how easily one man, in the right position, can circumvent due process and the rule of law. Everyone involved in the events described here seems to think of the incidents reported here as a great patriotic endeavor. I think it's a tremendous primer on the use of raw power.On [...]

    11. Steve Kettmann

      I read this book to review it for the San Francisco Chronicle back in 2003, long before Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts made what I consider a pretty good movie out of it. An important book. Here's my review from 2003:An army of oneHow a fast-living Texas congressman secretly funneled billions of dollars to Afghanistan to fight the SovietsReviewed by Steve KettmannSunday, May 25, 2003Charlie Wilson's War The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History By George Crile ATLANTIC MONT [...]

    12. Jerome

      In this book George Crile idolises Congressman Charlie Wilson, a good ol' Texan, a coke-snorting, whisky-guzzling, whoring, skirt-chasing arms-dealing, freeloading, hit-and-run drunk-driver, who constantly broke US laws to support the mujahideen, known as "freedom fighters" in their day, now known as something else entirely.I found this implausible, yet true, story so captivating that I had a hard time putting the book down. Not only is Charlie Wilson's War a compelling story that flows like a n [...]

    13. booklady

      Bear and I watched this movie last night and while on one hand I have to say it earned its "R" rating and then some, due to nudity, excessive profanity and immorality, it is nevertheless the incredible story of an unknown second-district Texas Congressman playboy who almost single-handedly procures millions of dollars (which were then matched by the Saudis) to support the Afghani mujahideen in their fight against the Soviet Union during the 1980s. Of course you know the outcome. What's so amazin [...]

    14. Mark

      I'm pretty conflicted about this one. It is an amazing true story with tremendous consequences (it could be argued for both good and bad) to every American. The story is very well told but filled with profanity (all of it, I presume, authentic). That was conflicting enough, but the most unsettling of all is how to weigh out the whole thing. It is fairly clear that the Russians' war with Afghanistan was the straw that financially broke the proverbial camel's back (along with an arms race with Ron [...]

    15. James

      This book explains Charlie Wilson's involvement in getting funding for the CIA's Afghanistan operation. Here is what I learned:1. Charlie Wilson and his CIA buddies use the F-bomb (or some crass equivalent) constantly2. Certain congressman are great at persuading others to co-operate with them, even when they do not agree with the plan.3. Afghanistan is a crazy place4. Charlie Wilson earned his nickname "Goodtime Charlie" One conclusion that I draw (I do not think the author or the historical pr [...]

    16. Caleb

      A good yarn about Charlie Wilson, a Texas playboy Congressman who somehow found his calling as the lead advocate for the Afghan mujihadein (sp) fighting the Soviets in the 1980s. He worked with a maverick CIA agent on the project. The story is fun and wacky. The problem is the book is about 100 pages too long and the author goes to the well far too often about how crazy Wilson is or how much of a maverick the CIA agent can be and it becomes a bit trite in the middle. That all being said, it's an [...]

    17. Mrn

      Introduces the reader to Charlie Wilson, a former Texas representative, and his involvement in the covert support provided to the mujihadeen. Loose on facts and long on speculation. The book does not provide a thorough history of US involvement nor does it attempt to. If it reads like fiction, a large of it may very well be just that.

    18. Skip

      Reads like a novel, with Charlie Wilson larger than life. The Epilogue though is very frightening -- leaving a legacy of armed Muslim fanatics battling each other in Afghanistan and the United States everywhere.

    19. Christopher

      I enjoyed the movie starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman when it first came out and bought this book to get the full story. And, I have to say, the old rule that the book is better than the movie holds true here as well. Mr. Crile has certainly done his research for this one, taking you deep inside the workings of Congress, the CIA, and Middle Eastern governments from Egypt to Pakistan. Not only is every nugget of information laid out in detail, but is written in such a [...]

    20. Colleen Clark

      Charlie Wilson, a flamboyant Congressman from Texas, took on the project of funneling arms to the Afghan opponents to the Soviet army, which had invaded Afghanistan in December, 1979, a couple of geopolitical eras ago.The United States saw an opportunity to oppose Soviet power by supporting Afghans who were opposed to the invasion. They were called the mujahideen. Here's a paragraph from the article on the Soviet war in Afghanistan. "National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, known for his [...]

    21. Amit Tyagi

      There are people who are destined to leave their mark on history, like Churchill, Lincoln or hundreds like them; but nobody would have ever given a chance in hell to this skirt chasing, cocaine snorting nobody congressman from the Bible Belt of Texas. And what an impact he made, not just on the war he made his own, but how he came to high jack the foreign policy of his country without holding neither the office nor the mandate to do it. It was entirely Charlie Wilson's zeal and his love for the [...]

    22. Mike

      If I were able to go halvsies on the ratings I'd give it a 2 & 1/2. The beginning makes it very hard to put down and it was refreshing for once to hear people praising the culture that in this world of contemporary political analysis and unconventional warfare we have come to fear and despise, but you quickly get past that when you realize that this ethnocentric hatred is really just being diverted to the at-the-time "Evil Empire" Soviets. Eventually this visceral hatred of the Soviets reall [...]

    23. Mary

      Hellofastory. Vets from our latest long wars should read this book then, if capable, get involved in politics asap. The US needs militarily experienced leadership. The war on Salafi jihadis should not be run by professors, lawyers and career politicians. God forbid another ground war.Charlie and Gust Avratakos are mostly superhuman in the utterly complex tale. Thanks to George Crile for unraveling this. It is one of those books like The Looming Tower that just slaps you in the face with it's des [...]

    24. Michael Prelee

      This book fills in many missing chapters between American backing of the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan in the 1980's to the attacks of 9/11. It's incredible what one congressman and dozens of CIA operatives were able to accomplish and what the "unintended, unforeseen consequences" of those actions were. Clearly, we used the Mujaheddin to defeat the Russians in Afghanistan just as much as they used us to accomplish the same goal. The book makes clear that the American government may have been naive a [...]

    25. Dave Gaston

      Crile’s real life history reads like an excellent spy novel. The largest covert CIA war in history (Afghanistan / USA vs. Russia) was launched by a wild-man Texas Congressman named Charlie Wilson and two gifted CIA agents. They had three things in common; a deep hatred of communists, an addiction for wild risks and a gift for swaying people and politics. Charlie Wilson, through his Appropriations Committee influence, had the balls to funnel 100’s of millions of dollars and act as a illegal s [...]

    26. Jeff

      This is a really interesting part of American History, but it's not a great book. The author bounces around too much, telling three-page short stories about people who helped in some minor way. It's cool to see how much really went into the Afghan war, and how lucky the participants really were, but the narrative is lost in all the research. People are given lengthy introductions and then never mentioned again - familiar-sounding names from chapter one are brought back, but we no longer know who [...]

    27. Mike

      Charlie Wilson is a bit like everyone - a good side and a bad side. His "public" persona displayed a lot of what many would think is bad. His personal mission as a congressman from Texas was to help the Afghans who were being invaded by Russia in the 1980's. He did this through funding and close work with the CIA. His problems with alcohol will strike a chord with any recovering or former drinker.It is an intriguing book, and somewhat scary that one man could wield this much power. The movie by [...]

    28. Erik Graff

      This is indeed an entertaining book about a moral reprobate, Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson, substantially responsible--along with the CIA, the Saudis and other authoritarian allies of the USA--for the defeat of the Soviet's attempts at nation building in Afghanistan during the eighties. Although this edition doesn't go into it, the history of American support for the Afghan "freedom fighters" is a good case study of unintended consequences as the withdrawal of Soviet forces supporting an alli [...]

    29. Dana Stabenow

      Charlie Wilson’s War I can best describe as a tale of Robin Hood and his merry men, a bunch of Washington D.C. true believers who never got over the Vietnam War, robbing the federal government to give to what they called the Afghan freedom fighters virtually unlimited funds and war materiel to boot the Soviet’s invading army back across their own border. It is a very entertaining read, it’s well written and incredibly well researched, but reading now what happened then through the prism of [...]

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