The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan

The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan

3.7 26
by Michael Hastings
     
 

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From the author of The Last Magazine, a shocking behind-the-scenes portrait of our military commanders, their high-stake maneuvers, and the politcal firestorm that shook the United States.

In the shadow of the hunt for Bin Laden and the United States’ involvement in the Middle East, General Stanley McChrystal, the commanding general of international

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Overview

From the author of The Last Magazine, a shocking behind-the-scenes portrait of our military commanders, their high-stake maneuvers, and the politcal firestorm that shook the United States.

In the shadow of the hunt for Bin Laden and the United States’ involvement in the Middle East, General Stanley McChrystal, the commanding general of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was living large. His loyal staff liked to call him a “rock star.” During a spring 2010 trip, journalist Michael Hastings looked on as McChrystal and his staff let off steam, partying and openly bashing the Obama administration. When Hastings’s article appeared in Rolling Stone, it set off a political firestorm: McChrystal was unceremoniously fired.

In The Operators, Hastings picks up where his Rolling Stone coup ended. From patrol missions in the Afghan hinterlands to senior military advisors’ late-night bull sessions to hotel bars where spies and expensive hookers participate in nation-building, Hastings presents a shocking behind-the-scenes portrait of what he fears is an unwinnable war.  Written in prose that is at once eye-opening and other times uncannily conversational, readers of No Easy Day will take to Hastings’ unyielding first-hand account of the Afghan War and its cast of players.   

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

Hastings (I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story) recounts the events behind and beyond his award-winning 2010 Rolling Stone article "The Runaway General," which led to the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal and his replacement with General David Petraeus. Trailing McChrystal and his staff as they travel to Paris, Berlin, and Kabul, Hastings discovers how the nation's foremost "operators"-the special forces and other personnel on "the X...the spot on the satellite map where the action goes down"-regard the war as secondary to their loyalty to each other. Cavalier remarks about key figures and incidents ranging from the infamous cover-up of the cause of Pat Tillman's death to scenes with President Obama reveal the essential divide between military and civilian perspectives. Hastings brilliantly intertwines narratives, whether writing about the halls of Washington, war-torn Baghdad, or rudimentary lessons in counterinsurgency math, a system wherein killing two of ten results not in eight, but twenty insurgents. Hasting's first-class, engrossing reportage reveals unsettling yet human flaws behind one of recent history's most lionized military figures, and a war which purportedly began as a response to terrorism, but whose aims-in the author's estimation-remain ambiguous.
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From the Publisher
“An impressive feat of journalism by a Washington outsider who seemed to know more about what was going on in Washington than most insiders did.” -The New York Times

“Hastings has written the funniest book I have read on the war and the US presence in Afghanistan—and it’s not easy being funny about Afghanistan or the US Army. The last time someone tried it was in the 1980s, when P.J. O’Rourke wrote hilarious pieces—also for Rolling Stone—about the Mujahideen in Peshawar and later the Taliban…. Hastings’s sense of humor is sly, cynical, and disrespectful, but it is honest....Hastings is an American kind of dissident. ” —Ahmed Rashid, The New York Review of Books

“Superb…One of the most eye-opening accounts…from one of the bravest and most intrepid journalists.” -Salon.com

“It demands to be read…this is a book of great consequence, not a pop-culture puff piece, which some of its deriders claim it is. The Operators seems destined to join the pantheon of the best of GWOT literature, not just for its rock-and-roll details, but for its piercing chronicles of a world gone mad.” -The Daily Beast

“Brings a fresh eye and a brutally authentic voice to America's decade-old misadventure in Afghanistan.”-Los Angeles Times

Library Journal
Hastings seems to be just the man to tell us what's really happening in Afghanistan; his Rolling Stone article, "The Runaway General," created a storm that led to the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Here he relies on exclusive reporting in Washington, DC, Europe, the Middle East, and, specifically, Afghanistan to clarify what is really happening in that country. I'm betting that this will generate lots of interest.
Kirkus Reviews
War correspondent Hastings vividly recounts his explosive 2010 Rolling Stone article that got Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal drummed out of Afghanistan. McChrystal's unchecked remarks caused his firing, but things might have gone down differently if the general had taken a lesson from Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous. It happened in the spring of 2010 during a European trip the general made to bolster sagging support for the war. Hastings was invited along. The premise of the movie--a promising band experiences their downfall after the Rolling Stone reporter they accept into their circle writes an unflattering (though accurate) story about them--perfectly mirrors the situation in which McChrystal and his entourage would become embroiled. Like Almost Famous, Hastings' astute war memoir is pitch-perfect in demonstrating the challenges that all diligent journalists face. If someone isn't actively working hard to shut you down, they're busy trying to co-opt you. In this case, a certified war hero and his hotshot staff were too confident in their ability to woo a puff piece out of a young writer. The author's frank discussion of these subtler forms of coercion, continuously employed to undermine accurate reporting, is undoubtedly courageous. According to Hastings, McChrystal and his highly accomplished cadre of elite military men operated in a bubble so thick, they foolishly believed they could mold not only a magazine profile to their liking, but also an entire country. As the situation in Afghanistan grows increasingly muddy, the author's disciplined adherence to solid journalistic practices and his acute eye for sharp scene setting makes much of the chaos comprehensible. Hastings has definitely taken up the traditional banner of the intrepid war correspondent, but he's simultaneously shot it through with iconoclastic holes; the effect is illuminating on many levels. An exciting and enlightening exposé of the war in Afghanistan, the dangers of concentrated power and the public's need to know.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781409144878
Publisher:
Orion Publishing Group, Limited
Publication date:
02/28/2012
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"An impressive feat of journalism by a Washington outsider who seemed to know more about what was going on in Washington than most insiders did." —-The New York Times

Meet the Author

 Michael Hastings started his career at Newsweek in 2005. He is a contributing editor to Rolling Stone, covering international affairs and politics. He lives in Vermont.

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The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Among the real thinkers in the Army there is a motto that the subjects of this book failed to recognize as a truth: Arrogance does not equal competence. This author is a real patriot...he's exposed the Eisenhower wannabes for what they are and what they aren't.
ToolTinker More than 1 year ago
If you want warm fuzzies about the powerful U.S. military and its exalted leaders, pass on this book. It's not for people who equate war with patriotism, security and heroic leadership. But it is fair, based on cobersationsI have had with current and retired military people. The military is its own universe, and Stanley McChrystal is the ultimate insider, not even knowing "what to do with civilians." Example: Hastings writes of McChrystal's contacting a respected author about his definitive book on the Vietnam War. The general asks the author what he (McChrystal) could learn from the author as he prepared to take the command in Afghanistan. The author replied that the U.S. should never have been in Vietnam. That was not was the general wanted to hear and proceeded with on-going, brutal attacks in the Helmand Province. An elite review team advised against even fighting there, where troops were being killed every four or five days.The momentum was there. Our forces would stay and fight. We now know, of course, that even the "great" Gen. David Petraeus did not use the word "win" after he took over the command from McChrystal. The Operators tells us why. It's well-researched - Hasting was there for the strategy and truth sessions - and it will be familiar to people who actually served.
CindyOH More than 1 year ago
I have to admit I could only read so much of this book at one time because I found the behavior of these generals and their subordinates so disgusting. THis was an informative account of the complete manipulation of what went on in Afganistan and how the American people have been lied to so the generals can "play war" at the expense of many American lives. Thank you, Michael Hastings, for again enlightening us! Keep up the great work!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm enjoying reading this book, and it's engaging and interesting. However, I cringe when I read things like, "He texted me it." Just a little more attention to good editing could have gone a long way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Michael Hastings introduces humor to a very morbid and moribund adventure of the US in Afghanistan. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the future of our country.
LisbethDM More than 1 year ago
If you read one book all year this is that book
elect1809 More than 1 year ago
Incredibly smart and bravely devoid of the love fest propaganda one finds in Broadwell's bio of Petraeus.  This is a must read.  Hastings is the man!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
drakevaughn More than 1 year ago
Unfettered access by a young Rolling Stone reporter to a war general’s inner circle - what could go wrong? General Stanley McChrystal received his answer after Hastings scribbled his now-infamous article which led to McChrystal’s forced retirement. That alone was quite an amazing story, but in The Operators, Hasting provided a personal and inside look into his time with the general and the rocky aftermath. Along the way, he documented his travels through Europe and Afghanistan with the general and his team, reporting on their boasting and free-wheeling behavior. Hastings spotlighted a harsh beam onto the war in Afghanistan and the policy-makers task to execute it. At times, his first-person, fly-on-the-wall style came off a bit self-serving, but on the same hand, the reporting was always equitable and top-notch. Hastings untimely death has stripped the world of any future investigations, a tragedy, but The Operators is a worthwhile legacy of his stellar reporting.
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This book gives a close work to the inner workings of politics and the war-machine. One more reason we are not winning these wars, too much political power in the way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Spare observations on the waste and futility of war. "The strategy is akin to digging a hole in the desert, then filling the hole with cash and dead bodies and calling it a victory."
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Revealing...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The condescending tone of the book is unappealing at best. Hastily written and self aggrandizing account of young man's interviews with military personnel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Afghanistan, what a waste of life (our soldiers & their civilans - could give a s... about their so called military)! Couple of Generals wanting their Combat Infantry badges, polliticans with no idea what the f... is going on, and civilian contractors raking in $,$$$,$$$'s at taxpayers' expense! Hastings, you are right on, thanks and keep hammering them. A must read if you give a s... about this country and our children and their children if they get to have any!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like chicken too
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Found this to be a little to liberal for my taste not so sure i buy into all that he says it sure as heck was not worth the $$$ hes charging