Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 2005
The explosive first-hand account of America's secret history in Afghanistan.
With the publication of Ghost Wars, Steve Coll became not only a Pulitzer Prize winner, but also the expert on the rise of the Taliban, the emergence of Bin Laden, and the secret efforts by CIA officers and their agents to capture or kill Bin Laden in Afghanistan after 1998.
©2011 Steve Coll (P)2011 Penguin
"Ghost Wars is a complex study of intelligence operations and an invaluable resource for those seeking a nuanced understanding of how a small band of extremists rose to inflict incalculable damage on American soil." (Amazon.com review)
Like many others, I want to understand how the United States got into the current mess in Afghanistan. This is the first book I've read that provides, in a truly in depth and objective manner. the always ignored back story. Anyone who cares to voice an opinion on future policy decisions in the Middle East should be familiar with this book. The author's objective presentation makes the story just that much harder to hear.
The author's cold blooded description of the myriad ways in which the United States was manipulated by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia for more than 20 years.
I have,and enjoy his narration. For some reason however, in the first half of this book, sentences were often clipped off at the end, giving the reading a sort of chopped off sound. This problem seemed to disappear in the second half of the book.
No. I actually spent more than 6 months listening to this book, mostly in the car, and I'm glad I took the time to go through it slowly. The tragedy builds slowly, piece by piece, until the eve of 9/11.
No book since a "Bright, Shining Lie" by Neil Sheehan has made a greater impression on me in terms of historical understanding.
I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.
Ghost Wars may prove to be the best book I read in 2013. It tells the story of the CIA's involvement in Afghanistan from the Soviet Invasion to the terror attacks in 2001. But that's not all it is. You will meet the directors of the CIA and see how their personalities influence the agency. You will learn about the Washington political climate under different presidencies and see how they cripple any potential to cure Afghanistan of its extremism. You will watch how the outcast younger son of a prominent family, named Osama bin Laden, sets up an empire in the ruined countryside.
The writing avoids analysis until the end, letting you examine events as they unfold with amazing clarity and detail. The narration is crisp and exciting without being overly-dramatized. When the wrap up finally comes it is stunning and insightful. This is an amazing book, filled with knowledge, rich storytelling, and thoughtfulness. You deserve to read it.
great story telling, accurate and abundant information, unbiased reporting.
the russian helicopter in the book is a Mil-17, through out the read, he reads it as an MiG 17. for someone with a decent military hardware background, it drove me nuts. couple of other similar misuse of technical terms.
glitches in the recording, skipped lines and sentences. could be a bad burn to CD...
This book offers a very in-depth look at U.S. involvement in Afghanistan prior to 9/11. The story comes across as factual and well-documented; I did not pick up any noticeable traces of a political ideology, just a well-reported story based on facts as presented by the author. The book is well read by Malcolm Hilgartner, to the extent that I would be more likely to purchase an audio book if he is the narrator. The technical production of the book is slightly lacking in a few spots where the audio stops abruptly and restarts, but overall it sounds good and I don't think anything is missed due to these small annoyances.
Mistakes were made, by Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43. Bush 41's policies put the Taliban in charge of Afghanistan, Clinton kept them there and Bush 43 was distracted by a VP and a Condi who were uninformed and uninterested. We armed the "resistance" fighters and abandoned them when the "resistance" got rid of the Russians. We relied on biased, self-serving "intelligence" from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, both countries supported the Taliban. We gave millions to Pakistan, much of which was diverted to personal accounts, and succeeded in tipping the balance toward the military intelligence side and away from the civil executive/legislative side, destabilizing a nuclear power.
Were there good outcomes? Well, the Russian economy imploded, the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Republic disintegrated. Would the Wall have fallen anyway? Maybe. We'll never know.
Good news? The Cold War was over. Bad news? We entered the era of terrorism. We don't know how this era will end but, thanks to this book, we know how it began.
Painful, depressing great read.
This is a wonderfully researched book. I listened to this and The Looming Tower in quick succession. I found it to be the far better of the two. Coll is insightful and is very careful to not overstep or over-interpret his source material. I find him trustworthy and honest and evenhanded. He is also a gifted writer. It was a great listen and was well performed by Malcolm Hillgartner.
I had hoped for a more lively – perhaps cloak dagger - perspective that's was lacking. No complaint about the scholarship, but this is a sterile retelling of international events that, in my mind, leaves out the human element and, as such, an anticipated exploration into the personalities that would have made this history more arresting.
Shocking to see how much was not done with ample opportunities to take action. Amazing to see the thread of events take place over such long periods of time and through drastically different historical events
Geopolitics, history, and philosophy junkie. I love smoothly flowing prose that moves me effortlessly from one idea to the next.
Packed with a lot of substance, I kept trying to take notes on those things that were new to me. I certainly learned a lot about these decades. This book contravenes some well rooted myths about the CIA, Taliban and other actors. The CIA did a heroic job in Astan. The only drawback for me was organization and some redundancy in the material, although I didn't mind too much.
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