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The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan [Kindle Edition]

Michael Hastings
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)

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Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

From the author of The Last Magazine, a shocking behind-the-scenes portrait of our military commanders, their high-stake maneuvers, and the politcal firestorm that shook the United States.

In the shadow of the hunt for Bin Laden and the United States’ involvement in the Middle East, General Stanley McChrystal, the commanding general of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was living large. His loyal staff liked to call him a “rock star.” During a spring 2010 trip, journalist Michael Hastings looked on as McChrystal and his staff let off steam, partying and openly bashing the Obama administration. When Hastings’s article appeared in Rolling Stone, it set off a political firestorm: McChrystal was unceremoniously fired.

In The Operators, Hastings picks up where his Rolling Stone coup ended. From patrol missions in the Afghan hinterlands to senior military advisors’ late-night bull sessions to hotel bars where spies and expensive hookers participate in nation-building, Hastings presents a shocking behind-the-scenes portrait of what he fears is an unwinnable war. Written in prose that is at once eye-opening and other times uncannily conversational, readers of No Easy Day will take to Hastings’ unyielding first-hand account of the Afghan War and its cast of players.

Editorial Reviews


"The life of a general is something to see, especially when it''s Stanley McChrystal, America''s four-star, rock star commander, at the height of his power and panache in Afghanistan. It''s a hard story to get, and hard to tell it well, but in the hands of Michael Hastings, it''s a world-class job of reporting and a joy to read."

About the Author

Michael Hastings is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone. He regularly covers politics and international affairs for the magazine, including the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. In 2011, he received the George Polk Award in journalism for his Rolling Stone story, 'The Runaway General'.

Product Details

  • File Size: 860 KB
  • Print Length: 424 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0452298962
  • Publisher: Plume (January 5, 2012)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006CU9WU6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,100 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
193 of 213 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
There are two distinct narratives to this mostly excellent book.

In one, Hastings recaps and expands on his embedded assignment alongside Gen. Stanley McChrystal's team as they traveled Europe and Afghanistan. A variety of inappropriate conversations later reported in Rolling Stone ended up leading to McC's dismissal as Afghanistan war commander. In the second, he presents an after-the-fact roundup of reporting on the Afghanistan situation, and other events in DC.

The book will be reviewed by any number of audiences with preconceived opinions.

There is a set of people who view what Hastings wrote as an attack on the military, which it isn't. Or, that he betrayed his source's confidence, which he didn't - they had to have known he was recording and writing notes. That's what a reporter does, after all, didn't they know it? Or they thought the same relationship that always works would work again - you hang out, you have some late night conversations, you trade stories and you bond...and when the writing's being done, then the reporter should know what to leave in, what to leave out. It always worked before, so why didn't it work now? I'm sure Duncan Boothby, McC's PAO, wondered that when he was resigning.

It didn't work, because Hastings is not Bob Woodward - he's not protecting access by protecting the bridge against enemies from either side. He burned the bridge with everyone, including him, on it. That's what the most honest reporter does - tells the story that he/she sees, and worries about the truth first and last...and relationships nowhere. The reportees aren't called friends, after all - they're called 'sources.'

Hastings shows this in a section where he presents a blistering critique of war reporters in general.
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45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
You may remember how back in 2010 an article in Rolling Stone got General Stanley McChrystal fired from his job running the war in Afghanistan. McChrystal and his team were presented as arrogant, free-wheeling and insubordinate, bashing the President, as well as the civilian leadership. I remember finding very little surprising about how McChrystal was portrayed in the article -- but I'm a cynic, it's my belief that most people who hold powerful positions tend to be burdened with hubris and incompetence. The fact that this is true, but is rarely reported in the media due to the cozy relationship between the power brokers and the court stenographers, is what really caused the firestorm. It wasn't so much that Hastings' story was true that upset so many in Washington, it was that he had the temerity to put the truth in print.

The Operators is a book-length version of the Rolling Stone article, covering the first few years of the Obama administration's efforts in Afghanistan. And those looking for a hero in the story are going to have a hard time finding one. Even Hastings, the narrator and ostensible protagonist, isn't particularly likable.

The war Hastings describes is one dominated by political infighting, with various factions hidden away inside their own insulated bubbles, incapable of recognizing the truth, or refusing to admit the truth when it conflicts with ideology. The Obama administration comes off as weak and ineffective, the Afghan government as corrupt and impossibly incompetent, and the American military as an isolated culture more concerned by its own inner workings and politics than whether or not it can achieve actual "success" in a country as thoroughly broken as Afghanistan (or even what "success" might mean).
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46 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Journalism is a shadow of its former self. The days of Walter Cronkite and a press anxious to fulfill its role in a democracy is pretty much gone. Co-opted by the very people it should be examining and career ambition. Offer a critical comment? Lose your access. Not just for you but possibly for your employer as well.

I am sure there are some here who will give a bad review without reading the book. But this is a story that needs to see the light of day if for no other reason than to remind us of the proper role of the press in a democracy.

Well documented and well written. A breath of fresh air unless you prefer celebrity biographies.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mostly Rehash and Filler May 23, 2012
Journalist Michael Hastings hit it big when his Rolling Stone profile of Stanley McChrystal, the hard-partying, wisecracking, egotistical, and irreverent Special Forces head of the US forces in Afghanistan, triggered the general's removal by President Obama.

The Operators tries to capitalize on that, expanding the profile to book length. Even if you never read the Rolling Stone piece, but read the news reports of the firestorm that it caused, you probably are already familiar with most of what would be of interest in the book. Much of the rest is rehash or filler coupled with a little insight.

If you're surprised by Hastings's revelations that the war in Afghanistan has little or nothing to do with 9/11 or alQueda, that no one seems to know why we are there or what to do there, that politicians and the military lie to the public and each other, that corruption is rife in Afghanistan, and that journalists often exchange ego strokes with politicians and the military, well, where have you been?

Told in a conversational style that sometimes borders on the comically egotistical (Was I really dealing with a spy or was she a high-end prostitute?), the book is a very easy read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars My brother just got back... there's more ...
My brother just got back... there's more to this story.... You know what there doing with the
equipment worth millions of dollars... Read more
Published 2 days ago by d mendez
2.0 out of 5 stars Joe Biden Is Right? The final chapter title in the book. WTF?
The last chapter is called "Joe Biden is Right."

I can't understand how someone could write an anti-war book and then cite someone who has voted for every war he... Read more
Published 22 days ago by Neal Diamond
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great product. Exactly what is expected.
Published 24 days ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
The writing held my attention throughout the book.
Published 26 days ago by margaret braum
5.0 out of 5 stars they loved it.
Gift for someone else, they loved it.
Published 1 month ago by Rosemary Duval
4.0 out of 5 stars Good insight and honest point of view of strategy and ...
Good insight and honest point of view of strategy and conceptions of the operators in today's wars.
A little flamboyant as you would expect from a journalist (that is not in... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Marcob39
4.0 out of 5 stars Mike hastings brings up a most interesting and enlightening fact ...
Mike hastings brings up a most interesting and enlightening fact, which he may not or did know. The fact is that:yes 90%+ Pentagon employees work in public relations/planning... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Robert Richard Klouse
5.0 out of 5 stars Lament for Michael Hastings
After hearing about Michael Hastings' untimely death on the Rachel Madow Show, I read his posthumously published novel The Last Magazine, then went on to read all of his books that... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Charles
5.0 out of 5 stars If you idolize or demonize Generals, read this.
If you have seen the recent History channel 'Generals' special, this book is a priceless counterpoint to that stroke job rendition of the Iraq/Afganistan wars that History special... Read more
Published 2 months ago by mark
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great inside look at Mideast wars.
Published 2 months ago by Joe the Plumber
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More About the Author

Michael Hastings was a contributing editor to Rolling Stone and a correspondent at large for BuzzFeed. Before that he worked for Newsweek, where he rose to prominence covering the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was the recipient of the 2010 George Polk Award for his Rolling Stone magazine story "The Runaway General." Hastings was the author of critically praised three books: I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story, Panic 2012: The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story of Obama's Last Campaign and the New York Times bestseller The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan, which was optioned for film by Brad Pitt's Plan B Productions. In 2010, he was named one of Huffington Post's Game Changers of the year. In 2009, his story Obama's War, published in GQ, was selected for the Best American Political Writing 2009 anthology. Hastings died in 2013, and was posthumously honored with the Norman Mailer Award for Emerging Journalist. His novel The Last Magazine (Blue Rider Press) will be released on June 17, 2014.

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