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Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History | [George Crile]

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

Charlie Wilson's War is the untold story behind the last battle of the Cold War and how it fueled the rise of militant Islam. George Crile tells how Charlie Wilson, a maverick congressman from east Texas, conspired with a rogue CIA operative to launch the biggest, meanest, and most successful covert operation in the agency's history.
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Audible Editor Reviews

Why we think it's Essential: With shades of both Tom Clancy and Dr. Strangelove, Charlie Wilson's War is the incredible true story of a gregarious Texas Congressman, a shadowy CIA operative, and their campaign to fund the Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union. Christopher Lane's smooth narration compliments George Crile's well-researched chronicle...right through to a riveting coda that reminds us of the operation's very real ramifications. —Ed Walloga

Publisher's Summary

Charlie Wilson's War is the untold story behind the last battle of the Cold War and how it fueled the rise of militant Islam. George Crile tells how Charlie Wilson, a maverick congressman from east Texas, conspired with a rogue CIA operative to launch the biggest, meanest, and most successful covert operation in the agency's history.

In the early 1980s, after a Houston socialite turned Wilson's attention to the ragged Afghan freedom fighters who continued to fight the Soviet invaders despite overwhelming odds, the congressman became passionate about their cause and procured hundreds of millions of dollars to support the mujahideen.

Moving from the back rooms of the Capitol, to secret chambers at Langley, to arms-dealers conventions, to the Khyber Pass, this book is a detailed and brilliantly reported account of the inside workings of the CIA.

©2003 George Crile; (P)2004 Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

  • 2004 Audie Award Winner, Unabridged Nonfiction

"Crile, a 60 Minutes producer, offers an absorbing, thoroughly detailed look at the largest and most successful CIA operation in U.S. history: the arming of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan." (Booklist)
"An engaging, well-written, newsworthy study of practical politics and its sometimes unlikely players." (Kirkus Reviews)

“Narrator Christopher Lane affects an even tone and pace, allowing the events of the story to carry the listener to the extraordinary highs and sickening lows of the flawed but heroic Wilson. Thankfully, Lane takes it easy on the accents and shines brightest when allowing a tinge of cynicism in his delivery." (AudioFile)

“Put the Tom Clancy clones back on the shelf; this covert-ops chronicle is practically impossible to put down.” (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (3414 )
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Performance
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  •  
    rmclean 12-11-04
    rmclean 12-11-04 Member Since 2002
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "Fascinating, informative and almost unbelievable."

    Not only was this book entertaining and compelling, it was very educational. It was fascinating to see behind the scenes in the US government and the CIA. This is one of the best books I have ever read or listened too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lawrence Birmingham, AL, United States 11-08-04
    Lawrence Birmingham, AL, United States 11-08-04 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Charlie Wilson's War"

    A lot of information that was entirely new to me and worthwhile, but it's a shame this book is not offered in an abridged format. Way too much repition. The editors were asleep at the switch.

    4 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    George thousand oaks, CA, USA 10-05-04
    George thousand oaks, CA, USA 10-05-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
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    5
    4
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    "Incredible!!"

    I found this a fascinating and discussing book!!! It provides a great preface to how we can shortsightedly focus on one thing and result in creating a bigger mess in the world, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and feel it should be must listening for everyone. I do not agree with what happened, this is a real life Dr Stangelove....

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elysse 08-19-07
    Elysse 08-19-07 Member Since 2006

    Since becoming a mom, I can hardly find time to read. But my commute still creates time for audiobooks!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Extremely compelling"

    Wow! I never knew how much I didn't understand about the history of the US military involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The motivations that Osama Bin Laden claims make a lot more sense to me. Not that I condone anything Bin Laden says/does, but his accusations are not foundless. We armed him and his compatriots. Really well-written and an interesting view into the various relationships between the CIA and Congress.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jim 02-28-07
    Jim 02-28-07 Listener Since 2006
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    "How Could we do this"

    This is a long book to listen to but when you hear some of the same names you hear in todays new stories it becomes very clear. How can we possibly win the war when those we are fighting( or the sons and other family members)were taught by our own government. When you hear we taught them how to make pipe bombs, car bombs etc and provided them with guns, amo, technology, then in order to keep them on our side used our planes to fly their wounded to our hospitals and all in the name of "defeating the Russians." Afghan "freedom" fighters as we referred to them in the 1980's are and were Taliban fighters.

    When you look back on history, our country always seems to back the wrong rebel. In China/Formosa, Cuba and Castro, Afghanstan and the Taliban, we stock pile, train, and wonder why we have such a hard time in the world.

    This is a great book for learning a very hard lesson. The contents of the book demonstrate our country is run by a handful of people. Maybe Isolism is the way to be.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kirill Naperville, IL, USA 08-25-04
    Kirill Naperville, IL, USA 08-25-04
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very Interesting reading"

    Unique ideas, connections and interpretation of facts..Overall I loved it...

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J 11-09-08
    J 11-09-08
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ""Awesome book""

    It had me cheering for charlie the whole book. It's fifty times better than the film. Avrakatos the CIA guy is a street guy who gets into fights with CIA snobbs on a frequent basis. Charlie is a drunk congress man who hides from police after a hit an run insident. They get together to stick it up the Soviets you know what. It's a cool book.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Colin Aurora, ON, Canada 10-16-08
    Colin Aurora, ON, Canada 10-16-08 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting Book"

    An interesting twist on the entire Afghanistan issue. The book, like the movie, flows well though stalls in parts.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 10-12-08
    Linda Lou Cave Creek, AZ USA 10-12-08 Member Since 2014
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    "DON'T WATCH THE MOVIE FIRST!"

    This is a very interesting story but the main characters are not nearly as colorful as they're portrayed in the movie, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. I'd only seen the movie trailer when I read this book but, even then, the book was no match. I fail to see why anyone would even think of a making this into a movie unless the screenwriter already had Hanks and Roberts in mind. But it is still worth reading.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kelster076 05-10-08
    Kelster076 05-10-08
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    "Slow"

    I've tried and tried to get through this book, but I haven't finished it yet. Maybe if I would have bought the book instead of the audio file...at this point, I'm tempted to rent the movie just so I know how it ends.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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  • Tom
    West Wickham, United Kingdom
    7/24/11
    Overall
    "An interesting book, very well narrated"

    This is a very entertainingly written book about an obscure corner of modern history, namely how the CIA came to back the Afghan mujahadeen in their fight against the Russian Invasion of 1979 (?). It probably would not pass muster as serious history, but it is surprisingly absorbing and thought provoking - particularly with regard to the consequences vis a vis 9/11 and the War on Terror etc. It also shines a light on the working of government in the USA, which I for one found very interesting. Narration and sound quality are excellent.

    If you like modern history and are looking for something off the beaten track, you could do a lot worse than try this book.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Jackie
    BaliIndonesia
    5/14/08
    Overall
    "Charlie Wilson's War"

    This is an incredible story ... they say truth is stranger than fiction! Narrated faultlessly by Christopher Lane, I was amazed at the chain of events Charlie Wilson initiated and could not help but be impressed by this rogue's relentless zeal in fulfilling his passionate quest. Apart from a slight flattening of pace towards the end, the book was gripping. I now have a true understanding of the American 'funding' process in Congress and the Senate, the reasons for America's escalating involvement in the war against the Russians in Afghanistan, and how this inadvertently shaped today's world of escalating terrorism.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Stephen
    Rowlands Gill,, United Kingdom
    8/31/08
    Overall
    "Tones of Wolfe - highly recommended"

    At close to twenty hours, this is a big commitment in listening terms - but to the author and narrator's credit, I never once lost the plot. A mixture of the familiar and the unfamiliar, lots of detail and a strict chronology in keeping with the documentary film-maker that George Crile was - before his death in 2006.
    There are several departures from the documentary style which sometime left me puzzling as to how the author might have known what precisely was in the mind of any of the extensive cast of characters at any given moment. The polite response is that the book is rooted in Tom Wolfe's New Journalism.
    If you are looking for a 'compare and contrast'/ next book to read after this thriller - try Noam Chomsky, not as much fun but certainly an interesting extension.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Ehritchie
    Esher, United Kingdom
    12/6/09
    Overall
    "Amazing and Horrific!"

    I learnt so much from this book. It should be compulsory reading for every American and British citizen!!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Calum I. MacLeod
    Scotland
    12/1/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Superb, Enthralling, Chilling"

    This book would be thoroughly entertaining, if it wasn't for the fact that it's a true and horrible story. The characters are painted vividly and I feel as though I met each of them. They are treated quite sympathetically, even when the actions are reprehensible. Christopher Lane did a good job of holding my attention, for a 20 hour long historical with a lot of detail the pace is superb. The story continues to unfold and I'm sure that Charlie Wilson's War will haunt me for years to come.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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