Regular price: $31.47

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
In Cart

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

Average Customer Ratings


  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars


  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
  • 4 Stars
  • 3 Stars
  • 2 Stars
  • 1 Stars
Sort by:
  • Overall

The Afghan War:Last Nail in the Soviet Coffin

Charlie Wilson's War is an enormously entertaining and informative history of the secret war that put the final nail in the Soviet coffin, leaving behind a vacuum into which stepped the Taliban and Al Queda. This is a truly great narrative of how we arrived in this post Cold War world with it's new terrorist wars.

(Another great book that addresses some of the same questions is, "All the Shah's Men" by Stephen Kinzer)

33 of 33 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Dale
  • Wheaton, IL, United States
  • 08-24-04

The REAL Story of the Middle East and the CIA

This book is a complex story which will grab your attention and keep it. After reading or listening to it you will have a much better insight into why we are where we are today in the Middle East. You will also learn that Ronald Reagan DIDN'T defeat the Russians (much to my disappointment, since I am a Reagan supporter)despite what anyone says.

You will learn how our government REALLY works, particularly Congress. Trading favors regardless of political party or whether your representativr is a conservative or a liberal.
You will learn more about why the CIA wasn't there when 9/11 occurred than you ever will from the sanitized 9/11 Commission Report.

You will learn that Reagan bet on the wrong horse (Nicaragua amd the Contras) to beat the Russians while the long shot (the Afghans and Pakistan) won the race and toppled the Russians with the help of a Texas Democrat who was everything that Muslims hate about America, a drunken womanizer. His fight to unite Pakistanis, Afghans, Israelis, Saudis, Egyptians, Swiss and more into one of the most rag-tag coalitions in history all in the single goal of defeating and destroying the Red Giant. And succeeding better than anyone could have imagined.

When you read or listen to this book you will not believe your eyes or ears. You will not regret the time you spend with this vook but if you don't read it, you will miss one of the most straightforward honestly written books ever. Having read thousands of books in my life, this is something I have never said about any other book I have ever read. IT will really open ypur eyes, no matter what your political beliefs may be.

I know that I will be recommending it to all of my friends and relatives, which is something else I never do.

51 of 52 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Andrew
  • West Hollywood, CA, USA
  • 01-30-05

had me on the edge of my seat

The editor's synopsis makes this book seem like a dry account of one of the many battles of the cold war. In reality, this book is about a number of things: the inner workings and culture of the CIA and US Congress, the comical account of an "upwardly failing" alcoholic congressman, the incredible backdoor dealings of millionaire Texas socialites and foreign military dictators and lobbyists. I was absolutely captivated from beginning to end. I listened to this during the course of two roadtrips and would actually reduce my car speed so I could finish the book more quickly. There is a reason why this book is among the most popular books on Audible. You won't regret reading it -- while it is a non-fiction book, the story reads like complete fiction. You'll love it.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Charlie Wilson's War

This book was well written but has so much detail it becomes boring after the second part. I felt I was reading the same material in a different city or country. The description was the same-I did not finish it which is rare for me. I could not recommend this book.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A great follow up to the film adaptation

Many people have commented favourably about this book and I will throw my hat into the ring in this regard. Growing up I never learned anything about Afganistan and the Soviet occupation--if anything, my knowledge of this era was formed by watching Rambo III. Now, not to discredit the Rambo franchiase, but providing an accurate historical accounts is not Sly's strength.

Charlie Wilson's War is a great introduction to this whole topic. It gives a compelling snapshot of Afganistan, the CIA, the Soviet occupation and the root causes of Islamic fundamentalism in Afganistan and how this was the root cause of 9/11. Essentially, the book makes the point that the CIA's covert war in Afganistan planted the seeds for the 9/11 attacks.

The audio book is perfectly narrated, has compelling characters, and is much much more informative than the movie of the same name. I watched the movie before reading the book, and purchased the book becuase I had the sense that there was so much detail cut out to fit the book into a 95 minute Hollywood film.

The best thing about this book is the sheer research that must have gone into it. The research is understated, but the comments the author collects from the players in this drama and then weaves into the book is impressive.

Highly recommended--no doubt in my top 5 of Audible listens.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Garth
  • edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • 03-13-08

Much better than the movie...

I started listening to this book, and then watched the movie part way through. I was really disappointed with the two-dimensional feel of the film versus the exposition of the various characters in the book.

It's rare to really get to know characters in a non-fiction book... it's often too much about what happens, not who makes it happen. You will not find that with "Charlie Wilson's War."
If you really want to know what happened in Afghanistan during the end of the Cold War and want to be seriously entertained and hooked into the characters of the true-to-life story, this one is for you.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • John
  • Riverview, FL, USA
  • 03-12-08

Excellent Book

Totally captivating. This was one that I couldn't put down...or turn off. Excellent story and fantastically read. Superb character development contributed greatly to the context of the story. Worth listening to again and again.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Lyle
  • Longmont, CO, United States
  • 01-04-08

Charlie's War B4 I see movie

This book gives a very detailed explaination of one way that the Congress works with, or how it can work around the rest of the federal government. I strongly encourage others to read or listen to this book, and I look forward to seeing Tom Hank's representation of Charlie in the movie.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Tyler
  • Lincoln, NE, USA
  • 06-23-05

Afghanistan from the Rear Vier Mirror

I thought this was a great book. The narrator was excellent, but the subject matter and the way it was presented was incredible. This book does a fantastic job of describing the inner workings of the CIA, and the various appropriations committees in Congress. Recommended for those who are interested in the first US war in Afghanistan

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kathleen
  • La Selva Beach, CA, United States
  • 09-20-04

Nonfiction that reads better than most fiction

Not only a good story, but perhaps more important, it educates people on how Washington works, i.e. with a little moxie and chutzpah, you don't need to have permission to change policy and give away billions of taxpayer money without oversight. I listen to 3-4 books a week on average. While I like to mix nonfiction with the fiction that keeps me entertained, often nonfiction is written too pedantically to keep my attention. Not this book. Good to the last drop. One of those books you wish would keep on going.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Tom
  • 07-24-11

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jackie
  • 05-14-08

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

  • Overall
  • Welsh Mafia
  • 08-31-08

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • 07-31-17

Charlie Wilsons war - not my type of book

Charlie Wilsons war - not my type of book
Although what Charlie did was I suppose astonishing it wasn't my type of book
Good narration

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Justaman
  • 05-11-16

Almost too good

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Nah, I don't have any friends.

What other book might you compare Charlie Wilson's War to, and why?

Any other biography, but it still holds out.

What about Christopher Lane’s performance did you like?

All of it. Not annoying at all.

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

No. Savior the precious ones, it'll make the good times last longer.

Any additional comments?

At least watch the movie.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Calum I. MacLeod
  • 12-01-13

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.

  • Overall
  • Ehritchie
  • 12-06-09

Amazing and Horrific!

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

1 of 2 people found this review helpful