Customer Review

165 of 182 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Better Post 9-11 Histories, March 14, 2004
This review is from: Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (Hardcover)
Coll provides a highly detailed, well written account of the history of the CIA and United States in Afghanistan from the Soviet invasion to 9/11. I highly recommend this work for anyone who is interested in how we came to the point we are in Afghanistan post-9/11, and how we inadvertently provided Bin Laden fertile ground for a successful terrorist operation.

Frankly, after reading this account, I became empathetic toward the CIA, Clinton and those in his administration, and the Pakistani and Saudi governments. Clearly their positions and actions lead to the rise of the Taliban. While lots of mistakes and maybe some shortsightedness existed among these players, they were all dealing with intricate and sensitive internal political issues that drove their decisions, or in the case of the United States, lack of action, in post-Soviet Afghanistan.

While Bin Laden would likely have existed without the safe haven he found in Afghanistan, his ability to train and draw followers so freely and with impunity is partially "blowback" from actions taken by the CIA, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia during the Soviet-Afghan war as money and weapons poured into the country.

There is also quite a bit of information about Ahmed Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance. It's interesting to speculate how more assistance to Massoud might have thwarted or overthrown the Taliban and as a result push Bin Laden into less favorable circumstances. But given Massoud's failure as a political leader in his first opportunity, the brutality of his troops, and being an ethnic minority in his country, again one can empathize with why the United States was reluctant to pin their hopes on him.

If you are trying to decide which of the very large number of books about Afghanistan, the Taliban, and Bin Laden are worth reading, this is one of them.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 14, 2007 4:29:18 PM PDT
[Deleted by Amazon on Apr 13, 2008 2:22:13 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 15, 2007 6:13:43 AM PDT
C. Baker says:
Thanks for the recommendation. I'll check it out.

Posted on May 9, 2009 2:31:56 AM PDT
Sean says:
"Frankly, after reading this account, I became empathetic toward the CIA, Clinton and those in his administration, and the Pakistani and Saudi governments. Clearly their positions and actions lead to the rise of the Taliban."

This doesn't make any sense. What exactly were you being empathetic about these different entities? Or if you meant "apathetic" it still doesn't make much sense, other than it gives rise to the doubt that you actually read the book to finish. Coll doesn't hide his view the Reagan and Bush Sr. administrations were instrumental in providing the conditions for the Afghan civil war following the Soviet withdrawal, nor the subsequent rise of the Taliban. Don't revise what you didn't actually read.

In reply to an earlier post on May 13, 2009 11:24:54 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 13, 2009 11:25:19 AM PDT]
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