Customer Reviews for

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

Average Rating 4.5
( 119 )
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(71)

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(26)

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(8)

2 Star

(10)

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(4)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

This book is my bible on Al Queda and the Taliban

This is an excellent book IF you're interested in why the Sept. 11 attacks took place and who executed the plans. I haven't found a more comprehensive account anywhere else and Coll's access to key players is astonishing. The book has all the intensity of a spy novel wi...
This is an excellent book IF you're interested in why the Sept. 11 attacks took place and who executed the plans. I haven't found a more comprehensive account anywhere else and Coll's access to key players is astonishing. The book has all the intensity of a spy novel with the exception that it is no fiction. It also isn't a particularly easy read, primarily because of it's scope and the large cast of characters (Coll conveniently includes a list of the key players and their roles in the book). But the reador gains so much understanding of the complex culture and political strife that is Afghanistan and Pakistan. Sadly, the book makes you realize the missed golden opportunities the U.S. had after Sept. 11 when they initially routed the Taliban from an exhausted and terrorized Afghanistan only to abandon the effort to focus on Iraq. I highly, highly recommend this book for thoughtful readers who truly want to understand: the consequences of the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the CIA's role in fighting a proxy war against them; the struggles, invasions, and suffering of the Afghan people; the origins of Al Queda and the Taliban and their justifications for terrorism and institution of a stict interpretation of Sharia Law; and Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan's critical role in the entire tragedy we see today. Ghost Wars is one of the most important books you'll read.

posted by judeOK on April 27, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

In our current world this is must reading for anyone following the news.

I heard this book recommended by John McCain in a radio interview. We understand so little of the background of the Afghan situation. This Pulitizer Prize winning book is the McGuffy Reader of the Afghan War.

posted by 2349010 on December 5, 2009

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  • Posted April 27, 2009

    This book is my bible on Al Queda and the Taliban

    This is an excellent book IF you're interested in why the Sept. 11 attacks took place and who executed the plans. I haven't found a more comprehensive account anywhere else and Coll's access to key players is astonishing. The book has all the intensity of a spy novel with the exception that it is no fiction. It also isn't a particularly easy read, primarily because of it's scope and the large cast of characters (Coll conveniently includes a list of the key players and their roles in the book). But the reador gains so much understanding of the complex culture and political strife that is Afghanistan and Pakistan. Sadly, the book makes you realize the missed golden opportunities the U.S. had after Sept. 11 when they initially routed the Taliban from an exhausted and terrorized Afghanistan only to abandon the effort to focus on Iraq. I highly, highly recommend this book for thoughtful readers who truly want to understand: the consequences of the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the CIA's role in fighting a proxy war against them; the struggles, invasions, and suffering of the Afghan people; the origins of Al Queda and the Taliban and their justifications for terrorism and institution of a stict interpretation of Sharia Law; and Pervez Musharraf and Pakistan's critical role in the entire tragedy we see today. Ghost Wars is one of the most important books you'll read.

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The source for why Afghanistan is where it is.

    Coll gives us the definiative history of US involvement in Afghanistan from 1979 to September 10, 2001. Don't worry which side of the political fence you live on - there's more than enough blame to go around for everyone from Reagan, to borh Bushes and Clinton. This is essential reading to understand why we are mired in Afghanistan, and why there is no clear way to solve that issue.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2009

    Beyond Politics, a True Resource

    Mr. Coll has written an oustanding book that exhaustively details the history of the evolution of extremist Islam and the rise of Al Qaida, and how successive U.S. administrations did little to contain it. Whether not wishing to upset the Pakistanis or Saudis, unrealistically thinking they could reform the Taliban, or just engaging in self-defeating hand-wringing, U.S. leaders allowed events to move toward their inevitable 9-11 conclusion. Mr. Coll's particular triumph was to lay out all this information in a non-partisan way, BEFORE the establishment of the 911 Commission. Would that both the Commission and the U.S. Administration had read his book beforehand, much of the hyperbole and finger-pointing that arose from the Commission could have been avoided.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2010

    Anyone who is interested in CIA history read this book!

    This book goes very in depth regarding the history of the CIA and its affairs with the Soviet Union and Middle East. It explores the various activities of top spies and covert affairs since as far back as the 1950's, and walks the reader through the events leading up to September 11. I am a 17 year old prospective International Relations major and I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of the CIA or foreign policy. Great read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted December 5, 2009

    In our current world this is must reading for anyone following the news.

    I heard this book recommended by John McCain in a radio interview. We understand so little of the background of the Afghan situation. This Pulitizer Prize winning book is the McGuffy Reader of the Afghan War.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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

    Posted May 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Must-read for everyone

    The story of Al Queda and what went wrong with America's most hyped intelligence service; including the worst of the United States' foreign relation's officers and representatives. This might explain why US could not just leave Afghanistan and Iraq.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 21, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Not the Easiest Read, but Awesome!

    It's an unbelievably in-depth book... if you're interested in foreign affairs and our countries past decision making, you'll love it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A History of the Afghanistan conflict and America's role.

    Steve Coll exhibits his extensive knowledge of war in Afghanistan and the role of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and America. His narrative is detailed but not so in depth as to lose the casual reader.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    How we got to 9-11

    This is a somewhat difficult book to read with it's detailed analysis of how "we" got to 9-11. The many mistakes that were made by every administration beginning with Reagan and ending with George W. Bush are mind boggling and makes one want to scream at the so-called leaders of our country. While understanding the geopolitical complexities at work, one is left with the notion that stepping on the toes of our oil producing "friends" might have been more important than our national security. I will say however that our leaders were also influenced by concern for the innocent lives that might be lost in attempting to capture or kill bin Laden and his cohorts and that of course is admirable. Whether they were concerned by the loss of innocent lives or the political consequences is up to the reader to decide. This work also makes one realize how difficult it is to deal with religious fanatics who do not hesitate to kill themselves in the pursuit of killing all the infidels who do not subscribe to their "religious" beliefs. I found myself wanting to sing to them John Lennon's song Imagine. I don't think they would get it. Not a book for everyone but certainly one that I would recommend for people interested in finding out how we got to where we are in this rather convoluted world of terrorism.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2004

    Beyond the politics

    Mr. Coll has written an oustanding book that exhaustively details the history of the evolution of extremist Islam and the rise of Al Qaida, and how successive U.S. administrations did little to contain it. Whether not wishing to upset the Pakistanis or Saudis, unrealistically thinking they could reform the Taliban, or just engaging in self-defeating hand-wringing, U.S. leaders allowed events to move toward their inevitable 9-11 conclusion. Mr. Coll's particular triumph was to lay out all this information in a non-partisan way, BEFORE the establishment of the 911 Commission. Would that both the Commission and the U.S. Administration had read his book beforehand, much of the hyperbole and finger-pointing could have been avoided.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 27, 2014

    Simply put, it is a masterpiece!!!

    Simply put, it is a masterpiece!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 21, 2013

    The Best of Non-Fiction

    Very well written and informative. It's long and thorough but the writing makes it compelling.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2013

    Highly recommend

    Excellent book in depth. Very long and sometimes boring
    but we'll written.

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  • Posted May 25, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Journalist/Pulitzer Prize winner Steven Coll begins the story of

    Journalist/Pulitzer Prize winner Steven Coll begins the story of the CIAs involvement in Afghanistan with images right out of a movie. Bundles of cash, secret and frequent flights by CIA operatives to Kabul; a place most Americans don't know. Some of the player names will sound familiar as Koll explains how the United States, the CIA and two administrations ignored the warning signs of terrorism and especially the rise of Bin Laden. It explains how we opened the door for the attacks before and on 9/11 by focusing on other issues. It's compelling, straight forward and at times, ridiculous. The Unocal oil company based out of Texas comes to mind. It also make you wonder what the CIA is keeping secret about in the present day.

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  • Posted October 11, 2011

    I highly recommend it to everyone that votes in the USA

    Steve Cool,has put all of his "ducks in a row" by doing the great research
    on the subject on how all of our Presidents,since the Reagan,the two Bush,and the Clinton Administrations,neglected the foreseeable events and brutal tragedy of 9/11.I believe this should be a must reading for all of the politicians in Washington to be aware of all the squandered billions of American Tax dollars were dolled out to Pakistani's,ISI in support of the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden.To me it was very interesting to discover that all the undamaged Military arsenal captured from the Iraq Gulf War,tanks,airplanes and thousands of small arms and ammunition were turned over to the Taliban at the time they were fighting against Russia.

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  • Posted February 11, 2011

    Terrific

    this is by far the best book ever written about the middle east. Every book that I have read since, I have compared t it and they do not even come close.

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  • Posted January 27, 2011

    Excellent!

    Very well researched and written. Comprehensive and detailed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    How did we get to September 11th, 2001?

    The answer to that question can be found in the pages of Ghost Wars. An invaluable source for those intrested in geopolitics and a captivating story for the general history buff. A friend today can be a very useful enemy tomorrow, and this book proves just that.

    A firm understanding of how things developed is crucial to determining how things will turn out in the future--a superb read if there ever was one

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Comprehensive and engaging in a way that lets you see the direct line from 1979 to 9/11

    Ghost Wars is a must read for anyone interested in the current state of affairs in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Coll shows the good and the bad amongst a full slate of characters, Presidents, and mujahideen.

    Coll presents readers with the players that helped to create the current mess in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2009

    re best book i've EVER read, ever

    This is by far the best book I've ever read in my life - and I read a lot of books . . . Highly recommend.

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