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Editorial 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

Critic Reviews

  • 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

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  • Overall
  • Lawrence
  • Birmingham, AL, United States
  • 11-08-04

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

  • Overall
  • George
  • thousand oaks, CA, USA
  • 10-05-04


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....

  • Overall

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

  • Overall
  • Kirill
  • Naperville, IL, USA
  • 08-25-04

Very Interesting reading

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

2 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • J
  • 11-09-08

"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

  • Overall
  • Colin
  • Aurora, ON, Canada
  • 10-16-08

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

  • Overall


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

  • Overall


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 this point, I'm tempted to rent the movie just so I know how it ends.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A Modern Miracle

It amazes me that one man with a vision can change the course of history. It is too bad that the unintended consequences were so severe. My hat is still off to Charlie Wilson.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jonathan
  • Lambertville, MI, USA
  • 04-09-05


Very dry, completely lost interest at several point in the second file of the book, didn't finish it. Way too much detail in areas that I didn't think were pertinent to the point of the story. I would only recommend this if you don't know ANYTHING about the Afghan-Soviet story at all.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful