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)
Ghost Wars is a comprehensive overview of the various conflicts throughout Afghanistan and the Middle East over the past 30+ years. It glosses over some interesting topics (e.g. the fascinating Charlie Wilson), but its hard to fault a general history for that too much. Overall, the story is interesting and the performance by Malcolm Hillgartner is fine.
The problem with this audiobook though, is that it frequently cuts off mid sentence. It appears that when this occurs, it continues on just fine and only a small segment (the end of a sentence or so) is missing. Still, this is extremely distracting and really detracts from the overall experience. If this sounds like it will bother you (I found it quite jarring every time), my advice is to get the book, but skip this recording.
It explained with great clarity the complexities of, not only our relations with Afghanistan but also with Pakistan. The only common element seems to be widespread misunderstanding and mistrust.
I also learned that we had clearly identified the threat from Osama Bin Laden back during the mid 1990s but permission to neutralize him was denied by then President Clinton due to his personal political difficulties at that particular time.
The research for this book was extensive and I was astonished that so much of the material is now declassified.
No single character because so many of the characters are facinating.
His tone , his delivery and the facility to smoothly move through so many difficult names and accents added an additional flavor of authenticity to the story
No foreign power has succeeded in this region since Alexander the Great. Even the people in charge today in Pakistan and Afghanistan, are not really in charge. So,...... we must ask ourselves why are we Americans wasting lives and treasury in this ungovernable wasteland?
How well it covered the subjects promised in the subtitle.
It's not that kind of book. There are sequences where some of the operator's exploits are described, but mainly it is a steady, factual account of the players and events through this moment of history.
Only the realization that through the abdication of our oversight of how weapons and materiel were being used to the ISI, and how Saudi Arabia was funding the brainwashing of a jihadi fighting force, we fertilized the ground for our enemies to grow against us.
It ties a lot of old, worn threads together and gives a much richer understanding of the places and players than any news piece ever could. Steve is a master storyteller about a world so few understand or even care about. The narrator does a fine job, although his occasional attempts at accents are slightly distracting.
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