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

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

He who controls the Gold destroys the world

I would suggest reading 'Oliver North - Under Fire' before reading this to get a view of both sides of government. Charlie Wilson is the epitome of what scares me about politicians. I'd consider Charlie Wilson as more of a 'Sell-Out' than a hero for what he did in Afg...
I would suggest reading 'Oliver North - Under Fire' before reading this to get a view of both sides of government. Charlie Wilson is the epitome of what scares me about politicians. I'd consider Charlie Wilson as more of a 'Sell-Out' than a hero for what he did in Afghanistan. Crile displays Charlie as this person who would go to no lengths to protect America. To me, I can't imagine any womanizing coke-head caring about anything but their own needs. Charlie goes off and defends Pakistan's right to build an Islamic bomb, which makes me view Oliver North as a saint compared to Charlie. Even though Oliver North sold arms to Iran in exchange to free the hostages and use the profits to send to Nicaragua, Charlie sold weapons, gave billions of dollars, and trained are eventual enemy. It's nice to know that coke-heads can run this country. It makes me think about the high gas prices and products and why they came about. It amazed me on how Israel played such a neutral position by providing Iran with weapons, by making special weapons for the Afghans, and by becoming involved in American politics so deeply. Israel makes me think that they care more about themselves than anyone else in the world even disregarding their own allies. There is no way that I can believe that the money to fund this Afghan program was handled properly. Charlies deep pashion for the Afghans were probably caused because of the money he was stealing from the program. The US was probably funding the Islamic bomb with this money as well. The only thing I can say bad about this book is how Crile would introduce each charcter in the same format. You will know what I'm talking about when you read the book. Also, I guess Tom Hanks is supposed to play Charile Wilson in the movie, which I find hard to believe because of Charlie's coke problem and also being 6'4 wher Hanks is only 5'10. Every paranoid idea that I ever thought about this government comes to reality in Crile's book, 'Charlie Wilson's War'.

posted by Anonymous on July 31, 2006

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

An evil book praising a terrorist organisation

Crile, a producer for the US news programme `60 Minutes¿, has written a hymn of praise for the CIA and its terrorist operation in Afghanistan. He also idolises Congressman Charlie Wilson, a good ol¿ Texan, a coke-snorting, whisky-guzzling, whoring, arms-dealing, freelo...
Crile, a producer for the US news programme `60 Minutes¿, has written a hymn of praise for the CIA and its terrorist operation in Afghanistan. He also idolises Congressman Charlie Wilson, a good ol¿ Texan, a coke-snorting, whisky-guzzling, whoring, arms-dealing, freeloading, hit-and-run drunk-driver, who constantly broke US laws to arrange aid for the terrorist cause. Crile ignores the fact that the US intervened first in Afghanistan, supporting reactionary terrorists trying to overthrow the progressive government: on 3 July 1979, President Carter signed a secret directive authorising covert aid to the mujehadin. The CIA promoted drug trafficking to raise funds for them. The British, French and Israeli governments all sold arms to them. Only in December 1979, five months after the US intervention, did Soviet troops enter Afghanistan, at the Afghan government¿s request, to defend the people against the terrorist onslaught. The CIA, assisted by Thatcher, spent $1 billion a year arming and training more than 300,000 Islamic mercenaries drawn from around the world to fight against Afghani national liberation. Crile tells us that MI6 did much of the CIA¿s dirty work, `murder, assassination, and indiscriminate bombings¿. It was the CIA¿s biggest operation, far bigger than their terrorist Contra operation in Nicaragua, indeed the biggest secret war ever. The CIA-organised Contras targeted schools, clinics and hospitals: so did the mujehadin, and more so. The Contras ¿raped, tortured and killed unarmed civilians, including children¿ and ¿groups of civilians, including women and children, were burned, dismembered, blinded and beheaded¿, as the CIA told a Congressional Intelligence Committee. So did the mujehadin, and more so. The CIA¿s special favourite was the repellent criminal and fascist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who was ¿responsible for the practice of throwing acid in the faces of Afghan women who failed to cover themselves properly¿. In the end, Gorbachev withdrew the Soviet forces from Afghanistan, and the mujehadin proceeded to wreck Afghanistan and attack their sponsor the USA. Crile claims that the withdrawal destroyed the Soviet Union. Not so; as Castro said, ¿Imperialism could not have destroyed the Soviet Union if the Soviets had not destroyed it first.¿

posted by Anonymous on October 11, 2004

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2006

    He who controls the Gold destroys the world

    I would suggest reading 'Oliver North - Under Fire' before reading this to get a view of both sides of government. Charlie Wilson is the epitome of what scares me about politicians. I'd consider Charlie Wilson as more of a 'Sell-Out' than a hero for what he did in Afghanistan. Crile displays Charlie as this person who would go to no lengths to protect America. To me, I can't imagine any womanizing coke-head caring about anything but their own needs. Charlie goes off and defends Pakistan's right to build an Islamic bomb, which makes me view Oliver North as a saint compared to Charlie. Even though Oliver North sold arms to Iran in exchange to free the hostages and use the profits to send to Nicaragua, Charlie sold weapons, gave billions of dollars, and trained are eventual enemy. It's nice to know that coke-heads can run this country. It makes me think about the high gas prices and products and why they came about. It amazed me on how Israel played such a neutral position by providing Iran with weapons, by making special weapons for the Afghans, and by becoming involved in American politics so deeply. Israel makes me think that they care more about themselves than anyone else in the world even disregarding their own allies. There is no way that I can believe that the money to fund this Afghan program was handled properly. Charlies deep pashion for the Afghans were probably caused because of the money he was stealing from the program. The US was probably funding the Islamic bomb with this money as well. The only thing I can say bad about this book is how Crile would introduce each charcter in the same format. You will know what I'm talking about when you read the book. Also, I guess Tom Hanks is supposed to play Charile Wilson in the movie, which I find hard to believe because of Charlie's coke problem and also being 6'4 wher Hanks is only 5'10. Every paranoid idea that I ever thought about this government comes to reality in Crile's book, 'Charlie Wilson's War'.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2005

    Hilarious and Insightful

    Fantastic, a must read. While reading this book I laughed out loud on numerous occasions. However, not only funny, this book is an insightful look into Middle East politics. Absolutely wonderful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2004

    An evil book praising a terrorist organisation

    Crile, a producer for the US news programme `60 Minutes¿, has written a hymn of praise for the CIA and its terrorist operation in Afghanistan. He also idolises Congressman Charlie Wilson, a good ol¿ Texan, a coke-snorting, whisky-guzzling, whoring, arms-dealing, freeloading, hit-and-run drunk-driver, who constantly broke US laws to arrange aid for the terrorist cause. Crile ignores the fact that the US intervened first in Afghanistan, supporting reactionary terrorists trying to overthrow the progressive government: on 3 July 1979, President Carter signed a secret directive authorising covert aid to the mujehadin. The CIA promoted drug trafficking to raise funds for them. The British, French and Israeli governments all sold arms to them. Only in December 1979, five months after the US intervention, did Soviet troops enter Afghanistan, at the Afghan government¿s request, to defend the people against the terrorist onslaught. The CIA, assisted by Thatcher, spent $1 billion a year arming and training more than 300,000 Islamic mercenaries drawn from around the world to fight against Afghani national liberation. Crile tells us that MI6 did much of the CIA¿s dirty work, `murder, assassination, and indiscriminate bombings¿. It was the CIA¿s biggest operation, far bigger than their terrorist Contra operation in Nicaragua, indeed the biggest secret war ever. The CIA-organised Contras targeted schools, clinics and hospitals: so did the mujehadin, and more so. The Contras ¿raped, tortured and killed unarmed civilians, including children¿ and ¿groups of civilians, including women and children, were burned, dismembered, blinded and beheaded¿, as the CIA told a Congressional Intelligence Committee. So did the mujehadin, and more so. The CIA¿s special favourite was the repellent criminal and fascist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who was ¿responsible for the practice of throwing acid in the faces of Afghan women who failed to cover themselves properly¿. In the end, Gorbachev withdrew the Soviet forces from Afghanistan, and the mujehadin proceeded to wreck Afghanistan and attack their sponsor the USA. Crile claims that the withdrawal destroyed the Soviet Union. Not so; as Castro said, ¿Imperialism could not have destroyed the Soviet Union if the Soviets had not destroyed it first.¿

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2003

    Good Story. Vague History.

    This book contains an incredible story of Hedinism, Obsession, Politics, War, Good vs. Evil, and Intrigue. However, I have to wonder if the 'History' may be a bit dubious or slanted. The Author idolizes Congressman Charlie Wilson and takes effort to draw the reader into his congregation of Wilson Worshipers. But, from this 'tale', it is hard to decide if Wilson should be tried and shot, or should he be given the greatest of American and Afghan honors. Maybe, we should do both! Or, maybe he should be dismissed as an exaggerator and egotist. Either way, I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves reading History and Historical Fiction. But, they should all need to keep in mind that this 'Story' may be just that, a story. I think the real fun of this book though will be in the years to come. As we watch the unfolding of the 'rest of the story' as declassification and 'deathbed testimony' reveals the Truths and Consequenses of this 'One-Man War'.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 29, 2014

    The True Story behind Charlie Wilson¿s War & 9/11

    You don’t have to read between the lines to see how Charlie & and his friends conducted an undeclared war against the Cold War Soviet Union in Afghanistan. “The enemy of my enemy is my friend…” It worked both ways. Congress did not make a declaration of war to use “Afghan Mujahedeen” “freedom fighters to drive the infidel Soviets out; but they DID secretly fund it. We and Saudi Arabia, and Israel (to a degree) provided the funds, high technology weapons and training of the Mujahedeen warriors to focus on the Soviet invaders, rather than fight each other. Now that the Soviet Evil Empire is gone, years later, they have the wherewithal to destroy a new group of infidels: us-- the USA. And since we gave them everything they needed to attack us, they chose us rather than their thousands-of-years of self-slaughtering. All they needed was a new Superpower to attack. And now, we are “The enemy…” instead of their friend. All signs seem to point to the Russians as financing today’s Islamic Fundamentalists against us. Allahu Akbar!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2012

    HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - BUT A BIT TOO LONG

    FASCINATING READ. GREAT CHARACTERS.

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  • Posted January 18, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    A must read for everyone who lives in America. Excellent author, exposing truth on our spending of tax dollars. Very good book. I shudder at all of the other potential pet projects that the US is funding. All in all, I heartily recommend the book.

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  • Posted November 27, 2011

    recommended

    An interesting perspective on what started all our current problems in the middle east.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 27, 2011

    Good story

    Good story, could of been better edited for a shorter story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2007

    Overly dense, but a good story

    Incredible story about these two fascinating characters, Charlie Wilson and Gust Avrakotos, and their cohort Joanne Herring, and an excellent lesson in the covert nature of Congressional funding. It should urge us all to pay more attention. However, I recommend the book more for the story than for the writing. It needed a much stronger editorial hand. The endless passages about the nobliltiy of the fight and the enduring love and affection the characters felt for each other was overwrought. Maybe the author felt the need to exhaustively defend the participants in the shadow of 9/11, but it was tiring and unnecessary. I also found a great deal of historical context deficient, with too much assumed about knowledge of the Iran-Contra affair, the reasons for the Soviet invasion, and Pakistan's leader and the imposition of martial law, just to name a few. But it made me thirst for more information about Charlie Wilson and his band of players and in that, it is a success.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2003

    An excellent untold story

    Charlie Wilson was the hero with clay feet as many of our hero's are. We often overlook their flaws or their flaws weren't reported in the years prior to the intense scrutinization of the media. The politics of this war are amazing also. The infighting between the CIA, Pentagon & Congress. The other unsung heroes, Gust Avrakotos & Mike Vickers, are also fascinating characters in their own right. Plus some of the most interesting parts of the story come after the Soviet withdrawal & the battle of afghanistan & how it relates to the war on terror. The legacy of which continues to this day. This book will help people understand what's going on in afghanistan today. Although there does need to be a follow up to fill in the gap.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2003

    very informative

    this book gave an incredible look to the inside of the CIA. but also shows you the fickleness of politicians on the right and left. but i loved it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2003

    Response to rafiaamer@hotmail.com

    Do not drop your jaw - Read the book again. Joanne WAS awarded Hilal-i-Quaid-i-Azam the highest civil honor of Pakistan by Zia - This is a good read. Not recommended for Zia's followers though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2003

    Inaccurate Information

    I am originally from Pakistan and that's why I looked forward to reading this book since I witnessed the effects of Afghan war in my country. There is really an acute shortage of material on this topic and when I heard about this book, I couldn't wait to get it. It started off amazing. Although Mr. Crile has not specifically stated his sources, I generally trusted what he was saying (he being a journalist, sources being attached to sensitive organizations and what not) but all my excitement deflated when I reached page 60 something where Mr. Crile describes the relations of Joanne Herring and General Zia. He wrote that Joanne was called 'sir' in Pakistan. Give me a break. Maybe some peon in some office may have called her 'sir' but that doesn't qualify as a fact worth quoting. The bigger and more outrageous claim was just a few lines down on the same page where Mr. Crile says that Joanne Herring was given the highest honor that Pakistani Government can give and that is the title of 'Quid-e-Azam' translated as 'The Great Leader'. I dropped first my jaw and then the book when I read that. It's ridiculous. It's so painfully obvious to me that Mr. Crile's sources were exaggerating and Mr. Crile didn't do any effort to corroborate the information. Had he¿d done that, he would have come to known that the title of 'Quid-e-Azam' is reserved for the founder of Pakistan, M. A. Jinnah and it's not conferred upon anyone else by Pakistan Government. It¿s like saying that US president honored someone with the title of 'The Founding Father'. As I said, it's ridiculous. I could give him the benefit of doubt if there was an honor which sounded like 'Quid-e-Azam'. There isn't. They are all like 'Nishan-e-Imtiaz', 'Sitara-e-Imtiaz' etc. and none of their meanings come anywhere close to 'The Great Leader'. Its not that I think that Mr. Crile is lying. He just heard something and quoted it in a 'history' book. Historians used to be a bit more cautious in recording facts. Had he¿d tried to verify that from any (and I mean ANY, it's that common knowledge) Pakistani, he/she would have told him that that 'fact' can not possibly be true. That was it for me. The book's credibility was GONE. I tried to go beyond that and read some 100 pages more but now that I knew for sure that Mr. Crile's sources had passed him blown up info and he hadn't verified it, the only way I could read it anymore was to consider it a work of fiction but then, its not written very well for a fictional book. I have a lot more to say about how Mr. Cile's sources have described Zia and some other things but I won't. It¿s useless.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2003

    Strange but True.....

    I could not put this book down. I enjoy military history and political intrigue as well as foreign relations. This had it all. The 15 years of research here really shows through with very detailed behind the scenes insights. I found myself really loving and hating the characters involved, from the title character, Charlie Wilson, to Muhjadin themselves. I learned a great deal about the inner workings of our government, for better or worse. The ups and downs of the characters in this story are sometimes hard to take as you keep hoping they fix their lives, but alas the book shows hereos come with chinks in the armor. The recent events in the Middle East make this story all the more relevant and amazing. The moral of the story is that every action has a reaction and if you focus on too short of a horizon you can create more havoc than you eliminate. The only complaint is that the book gives short coverage to the lack of follow up after the Red Army leaves Afghanastan, which is the root cause of many problems today. Read this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2003

    A War Book Women Will Love

    An extraordinary war story with a brainy, gorgeous woman as one of the main characters. Joanne Herring, a Houston socialite, paved the way for Charlie,and he rode into Afghanistan on her coattail. Every woman should be proud of this outstanding heroine.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2003

    The Democrats war in Afghanistan

    Who would have know that the Democrats had their private war going on while bashing President Reagan over the Contra war in Nicaragua. The American news media was not after this story compared to the one in Central America. The reader gets the insider view of national politics in Washington as we follow Rep. Wilson's efforts to fund the war. In Congress it was all about power and money. Ideals seem to have come second. Wilson wanted revenge to send Russian boys home in body bags as the USSR did to the USA with Vietnam. Congressman Wilson's passion and commitment comes through loud and clear. Along with Wilson's self-destructive nature that almost cost him elective office. Great story, hard to put the book down. The covert effort to defeat the USSR made for some strange alliances in the Middle East. The success in this covert effort created some of the conditions for today's war on terror.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2003

    Excellent

    This was not only an interesting read, it was also fun. It gives you insight into the workings of the government that are distrubing to say the least. The book made me wonder what kind of 'back door' politics are going on now that we will not know about for another 20 years. This is the type of book that is hard to put down once you start reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2003

    Fantastic Summer Read

    'Charlie Wilson's War' is the unbelievable yet true story of the covert CIA operation to support the Afghan rebels who so courageously resisted Soviet occupation in the 1980's. It is also the story of two extraordinary men, Congressman Charles Wilson and CIA operative Gust Avrokotos, whose guile, determination, and utter disregard for the rules made this quixotic undertaking a reality. This book is about impossible personalities prevailing against impossible odds to defeat an impossible foe. It is also impossible to put down. The prose is quick and engaging. George Crile and his crack team drop you immediately into the action, creating a close bond with the book's main protagonists. However, Wilson and Avrokotos are not allowed to completely overshadow the action. Crile brings his expert eye to this historic tale, forged after almost two decades of service as an executive producer at 'Sixty Minutes'. The result is an easy to follow, orderly read- despite the utter chaos of the region's history, politics, and religious, ethnic, and territorial turmoil. What makes this book all the more fascinating is the direct connections Crile ties to our present day difficulties with Afghanistan and the larger Islamic world, not to mention the final days of the Soviet empire. For the first time since 9/11, one source ties together the complicated web of covert operations, David and Goliath type odds, and the final missed opportunities into a coherent story. A story that is an object lesson into our current relationships in the Middle East. 'Charlie Wilson's War' is proof once again that truth is far stranger than fiction, for throughout this story you will be struck time and time again by the sheer magnitude of the undertaking, the force of the personalities, and the effect they have on the entire world. This book caries my highest recommendation. Whether you like fiction or non fiction, history, spy novels, or fantasy, this saga has something for every reader. Go buy this book, and buy it for a friend!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2003

    EXCELLENT WORK

    This is a very fine, polished and mammoth undertaking to describe the inner workings of America's role in the Afghan Jihad. This is not for the first time Afghan Jihad reader however. This book's power comes through for all of us who had intimate workings with the jihad or for those who researched the massive war effort from other points of view, such as the Pakistani view or the fanatical muslim warrior view. This book fills in the mighty gaps left by biased reports and the lack of coverage of the jihad by Western media and writers. An excellent buy.

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