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Publisher's Summary

In June 2010, Michael Hastings published an article in Rolling Stone that made headlines around the world: In “The Runaway General”, he reported on a week he spent in Europe with General Stanley McChrystal, the revered soldier in charge of the war in Afghanistan.

McChrystal and his staff's unguarded remarks about the White House, our allies, and the conduct of the war led President Obama to order McChrystal to the Oval Office, where he was fired unceremoniously. While Hastings' reporting won him a prestigious Polk award and led to two Pentagon investigations, there is much more to his story than the indiscretions of Stanley McChrystal.

In The Operators, Hastings, formerly the Baghdad bureau chief for Newsweek, takes the listener behind the diplomatic façades to paint a picture of nation-building gone awry. Hastings also takes us on patrol missions in Afghanistan, where he is embedded with American troops, and witnesses firsthand the madness, horror, and existential contradictions of Afghanistan.

The Operators combines the acute reportage of a Sebastian Junger with the mad energy of a Michael Herr - it is the painful, powerful tale of a war that can never and will never be won.

©2012 Michael Hastings (P)2012 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"An impressive feat of journalism by a Washington outsider who seemed to know more about what was going on in Washington than most insiders did." (Frank Rich, The New York Times)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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Bring our Troops Home

The book is about the author's investigation into writing a Rolling Stone article (June 2010) on Gen. Stanley McChrystal who was in charge of the war in Afghanistan as well as the fallout after publication of the article.

Now that I have finished the book, I'm dying to read the RS article. The author never realized what a sh*tstorm the article would create - and it did.


The middle part of the book is a little boring but stick with it. The end where the sh*t hits the fan and the fallout at the White House is fantastic.

The story is also interesting knowing about Gen Petraeus' recent scandal in Florida.

The sad part about the book is that you realize we have no business in the war. We aren't winning, they don't want us there, they don't even want democracy and our soldiers are risking the lives for nothing. It's time to bring our troops home.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Behzad
  • manassas, VA, United States
  • 05-22-12

Wonderful

Very Well Written and Equally well Read. Congratulations, Michael for creating such in depth and unbiased portrait of Generals who fought the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Couldn't stop listening!

The narration of this book was exciting and easy to listen to. It was as though the author were sitting next to me telling a really good war story.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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VERY INTERESTING STORY

Somehow all the news and articles passed without touching me, so when I began this book all the facts were totally new to me.

I have to say that I'm at a loss for words, I'm not sure what I think about all of this, but I have no doubt that everybody should read it.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful

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  • DS
  • 06-20-15

WHERE ARE OUR GREAT GENERALS

Unlike the 1940's, today's military elite are not our best and most honorable. The War on Terror is an ill-conceived failure. This should have been an intelligence lead, law enforcement effort. We did not learn the lessons of Vietnam and we continue to invest our lives and treasure pursuing futile nation building f**k ups. Such crap. Thank you Michael Hastings, the truth is in short supply in today's media and the American public owe you a debt of gratitude for your truth telling.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A fine writer

An excellent account of Mr. Hastings' experiences with General McCrystal and the War in Afghanistan. Mr. Hastings was a fine reporter and this is far better than his posthumous novel which was, after all, unfinished. He died way too young.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Part history, part biography, totally enjoyable

This book was very entertaining and enlightening. Like many Americans, I have followed the wars through the new for the last 10+ years. I was aware of many of the actual historical events that are backdrops to this story. What I really liked was getting a glimpse behind the headlines, and seeing how the 'operators' that caused the events, and why.

The book is not, and does not try to be, comprehensive. Nevertheless, there is enough there to provide a pretty good review. It certainly made me want to read other books that provide a critical synthesis of the wars and politics.

I enjoyed the whole book, but it did sag a little toward the end. Even that was interesting, but not as good as the first 4/5ths or so. Still, I highly recommend this book.

9 of 13 people found this review helpful

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RIP Mister Hastings.

This book is a rare find in 21st century journalism. His level of reporting is excellent and completely honest and true. This is quite possibly the most important non-fiction book of the past two decades. He finally shows us exactly how unprepared and inept our military is when dealing in modern warfare. Trillions spent with limited results. I for one think this is still a very relevant book considering Trump's urge to send more troops to Afghanistan.

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A fitting book for the times.

Perfectly illustrates the continued failures that the current and every administration and country throughout centuries has failed to achieve while occupying Afghanistan.

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Great for the facts, but take with a grain of salt

The author gives most of the book in a clear and honest manner, but in some (very few) cases he either speculates or let's his opinion color the truth. All in all, an excellent book.