Good Fast-Paced Narrative - Credible,
This review is from: Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (Penguin Books) (Paperback)
Very well written, exciting and a narrative that covers a lot of history on the transition from Central Asia superpower conflict to one based upon waging the war against terror. All the pitfalls, all the mistakes, all the predictable and unpredictable nuances of the CIA's operations in Afghanistan from the Russian Invasion till 9/11.
Moves fast and covers a lot of historical narratives, the role of the House of Sa'ud, the rocky ISI/CIA relationship, the rise and fall or various voices across different US administrations. It even gets down on the ground with the actual agents, the firefights and the role of bagmen passing money to shadowy groups as nations try to get the edge on one another... Good detail but a grand historical sweep. A very balanced narrative.
There is good historical detail and analysis. Coll is honest in citing and evaluating sources, almost all of the book is based opon rock-solid references.
This is war from the side of the CIA in Aghanistan. Trying to make things work on a shoe-string budget, of agents improvising and inventing when they do not have the resources or sometimes not even the authority. It has villians and heros and, more usual, those who Machiavellian types. It should be a good balance to read next to, or after, "The Looming Tower" which tells of the rise of Al Quaeda. This volume is the response of the CIA to that threat.
I sidelined about two other books I was reading to complete this book... that says much about how well written, engaging and exciting this narrative actually is.