Old & fat, but strong; American, Chinese, & Indian (sort of); Ph.D. in C.S.; strategy, economics & stability theory; trees & machining.
The basic story was well known to me, as the result of following international events at the time. The characters were new to me. But more to the point the historical insights ware not as deep, but the affective connection to the characters was unusually good.
Very high quality reading.
First of all, this book is a good tonic for those who keep insisting that Reagan and his profligate weapons spending programs somehow brought down the Soviet Union. In the place of this myth, Crile demonstrates how, when the Republicans were up to their usual game of trashing the rule of law and the Constitution with Iran-Contra, a Democrat Cold Warrior named Charlie Wilson steered the CIA into a direct confrontation with the Red Army in Afghanistan. It also show that the Reps aren't the only ones with fundamentalist buddies at home.
The second reason to read this book is that it is quite obviously based primarily upon Crile's extensive interviews with Wilson himself and his CIA point man, both of whom are quite eager to trumpet their accomplishment. One could almost say that the book is written by these two with Crile's assistance. The result is deeply ironic, since the book is written before 9/11 and is clearly oblivious to the catastrophic consequences of the CIA's procedure of using fundamentalists and fascists in a "any means necessary" mission of making the world safe for democracy. Now, of course, the consequences of the CIA's actions in Iran (1953), Afghanistan (1979-89) and Pakistan (1978) are on display for all the world to see.
Which reminds me, do not trust Crile on Zia. He is a CIA product himself and was responsible for the wiping out of an entire generation of secular democrats in Pakistan. Whether this omission on Crile's part is deliberate or whether he is simply monumentally naive is not clear.
At any rate, for one prepared to think long and hard about the consequences of spreading fascist, fundamentalist, and anti-democratic forces all over the world for a generation, this is a good book to start with. To call it "blowback" is not enough. What the CIA did in Afghanistan will have anti-democratic consequences for generations in South Asia. Wilson and his CIA pals have alot to answer for.
The Charlie Wilson's War is a fascinating story, especially because of its applicability to the current war on terror. My primary reservation in recommending this book is that it uses very strong language frequently.
If, just like me, you liked "America's secret war", you will love "Charlie Wilson's War". This book tells you everything from the astonnishing covered operation that is the settelment of today's world. Although everything is true, this is written like a novel. You really can't wait to know what happens next. And humour is so present that people looking at me laughing in the subway (where usually I listen Audiobooks) might have thought I'm nuts. I tell my friends to reed or listen this book. Hollywood will make a movie out of it and if you listen to this book you will understand why.
This story is incredibly well told and if it is even only 80% true, it is amazingly scary that one man could have so much control over how a country spends Billions of dollars on war. I lived through this time and remember the "freedom fighters" but had absolutely NO idea that all of this was going on. Well worth a listen.
A superb book. A long book but every minute is captivating. But, be warned, this book will take over your life !! The story is amazing and the narration is great. The book grabs you and doesn't let go. At the end you wish for more.
The best audible book I've read so far.....
A fascinating story that reads like a well written novel. You will enjoy this program.