"Charlie Wilson's War" tells the story of what became the largest covert operation in history--costing over $1 billion a year. Moving from the back rooms of the Capitol, to secret chambers at Langley, to arms-dealer conventions, to the Khyber Pass, this is a compulsively readable account of the inside workings of the CIA."Charlie Wilson's War" tells the story of what became the largest covert operation in history--costing over $1 billion a year. Moving from the back rooms of the Capitol, to secret chambers at Langley, to arms-dealer conventions, to the Khyber Pass, this is a compulsively readable account of the inside workings of the CIA.Read Less
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I loved this book. So much so I've ordered copies as gifts. All the guys especially the Veterans have loved it and thanked me for a great read. It reads like a spy thriller, but this is about the real events, not a novel. I can hardly wait to see how they make the movie.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-05-26 Put the Tom Clancy clones back on the shelf; this covert-ops chronicle is practically impossible to put down. No thriller writer would dare invent Wilson, a six-feet-four-inch Texas congressman, liberal on social issues but rabidly anti-Communist, a boozer, engaged in serial affairs and wheeler-dealer of consummate skill. Only slightly less improbable is Gust Avrakotos, a blue-collar Greek immigrant who joined the CIA when it was an Ivy League preserve and fought his elitist colleagues almost as ruthlessly as he fought the Soviet Union in the Cold War's waning years. In conjunction with President Zia of Pakistan in the 1980s, Wilson and Arvakotos circumvented most of the barriers to arming the Afghan mujahideen-distance, money, law and internal CIA politics, to name a few. Their coups included getting Israeli-modified Chinese weapons smuggled into Afghanistan, with the Pakistanis turning a blind eye, and the cultivation of a genius-level weapons designer and strategist named Michael Vickers, a key architect of the guerrilla campaign that left the Soviet army stymied. The ultimate weapon in Afghanistan was the portable Stinger anti-aircraft missile, which eliminated the Soviet's Mi-24 helicopter gunships and began the train of events leading to the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and its satellites. A triumph of ruthless ability over scruples, this story has dominated recent history in the form of blowback: many of the men armed by the CIA became the Taliban's murderous enforcers and Osama bin Laden's protectors. Yet superb writing from Crile, a 60 Minutes producer, will keep even the most vigorous critics of this Contra-like affair reading to the end. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly, 2003-04-15 It's no wonder veteran 60 Minutes producer Crile opted for the printed word instead of television to tell this crucial and timely behind-the-scenes account of how the CIA backed the Afghan Mujahideen against the Soviet Union's 1979 invasion of Afghanistan. Even a lengthy TV program couldn't do justice to a character such as Charlie Wilson, an outsized, swaggering East Texas Congressman-a "virtual public outlaw" initially convinced by a charismatic, right-wing Houston socialite nicknamed "Buckets" of the chance to deter Communism in Afghanistan. Wilson managed, through back-room machinations Crile traces with neat agility, to facilitate funding that would eventually amount to over $1 billion annually to support the U.S.'s covert operations in Afghanistan, a campaign that eventually contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union. (Meanwhile, CIA director William Casey was unable to persuade Congress to dispense a comparatively meager $19 million to fund the Nicaraguan Contras.) Wilson's unlikely partner, Gust Avrakatos, a lifelong but out-of-favor CIA operative who used his 1976 green Cadillac Coup de Ville as "a kind of amulet" against the evil eye he had ample reasons to believe was being directed his way from a variety of sources, headed up his band of "Dirty Dozen" agents with a mastery of clandestine realpolitiks usually lurking in Clancy novels. More than a character study, however, Crile's book, with its investigative verve and gripping narrative, is a comprehensive political assessment and sobering account of the power structures that run parallel to, but apparently unknown by, official government authorities. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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