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Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 | [Steve Coll]

Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (171 )
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4.2 (138 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Ben in Baltimore 11-21-11 Member Since 2011
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    "Interesting, in-depth book"

    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.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Howard H. Shen orange county, ca 05-01-12
    Howard H. Shen orange county, ca 05-01-12

    eyekungfu

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    "great book, minor recording/narrating flaws"
    What made the experience of listening to Ghost Wars the most enjoyable?

    great story telling, accurate and abundant information, unbiased reporting.


    What aspect of Malcolm Hillgartner’s performance would you have changed?

    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.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    no


    Any additional comments?

    glitches in the recording, skipped lines and sentences. could be a bad burn to CD...

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 11-08-13
    Joe Kansas City, MO, United States 11-08-13 Member Since 2011

    I read science, biographies, histories, mysteries, adventures, thrillers, educationals, linguistics but not no way, not no how, romances.

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    "An Exceptional Accomplishment"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    joseph Iowa City, IA, United States 11-19-12
    joseph Iowa City, IA, United States 11-19-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Outstanding"

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raymond S. Berry 08-25-12 Member Since 2005
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    "Required Reading"
    What made the experience of listening to Ghost Wars the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    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.


    Have you listened to any of Malcolm Hillgartner’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    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.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    No book since a "Bright, Shining Lie" by Neil Sheehan has made a greater impression on me in terms of historical understanding.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TIGE M. BRAUN 06-18-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Cuts out"
    Where does Ghost Wars rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    The audio drops out at some points and then picks up a few seconds later. I follow the audio with the book so that I may highlight and it is frustrating when the audio drops at least every other page.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lynn Mesa, AZ, United States 12-14-13
    Lynn Mesa, AZ, United States 12-14-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Must Read!"

    Great book, very detailed info and very informative. If you have any degree of interest in, Afghanistan, America and the war on terror, buy this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom SCHWENKSVILLE, PA, United States 06-13-13
    Tom SCHWENKSVILLE, PA, United States 06-13-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Eye opening"
    Where does Ghost Wars rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It was one of my favorites.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    McWilliams


    What does Malcolm Hillgartner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I think he brought a personality to the book.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Not a moment but the story about the American embassy in the beginning.


    Any additional comments?

    I just liked the way things were explained and the flow of a book filled with so much information. well told!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Corning, NY, United States 05-28-13
    Christopher Corning, NY, United States 05-28-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Fine Book - Distracting Audio"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sean C. James Bonita Springs, FL, US 03-19-13
    Sean C. James Bonita Springs, FL, US 03-19-13 Member Since 2009
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    "With 2 Afghans, is the potential for 3 factions"
    What did you love best about Ghost Wars?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    No single character because so many of the characters are facinating.


    What does Malcolm Hillgartner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    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


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Absolutely


    Any additional comments?

    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?

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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