Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
+ $3.99 shipping
Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times Paperback – November 6, 2007
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
Put the Tom Clancy clones back on the shelf; this covert-ops chronicle is practically impossible to put down. No thriller writer would dare invent Wilson, a six-feet-four-inch Texas congressman,liberal on social issues but rabidly anti-Communist, a boozer, engaged in serial affairs and wheeler-dealer of consummate skill. Only slightly less improbable is Gust Avrakotos, a blue-collar Greek immigrant who joined the CIA when it was an Ivy League preserve and fought his elitist colleagues almost as ruthlessly as he fought the Soviet Union in the Cold War's waning years. In conjunction with President Zia of Pakistan in the 1980s, Wilson and Arvakotos circumvented most of the barriers to arming the Afghan mujahideen-distance, money, law and internal CIA politics, to name a few. Their coups included getting Israeli-modified Chinese weapons smuggled into Afghanistan, with the Pakistanis turning a blind eye,and the cultivation of a genius-level weapons designer and strategist named Michael Vickers, a key architect of the guerrilla campaign that left the Soviet army stymied. The ultimate weapon in Afghanistan was the portable Stinger anti-aircraft missile, which eliminated the Soviet's Mi-24 helicopter gunships and began the train of events leading to the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and its satellites. A triumph of ruthless ability over scruples, this story has dominated recent history in the form of blowback: many of the men armed by the CIA became the Taliban's murderous enforcers and Osama bin Laden's protectors. Yet superb writing from Crile, a 60 Minutes producer, will keep even the most vigorous critics of this Contra-like affair reading to the end.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
A longtime Sixty Minutes producer investigates the expenditure of what eventually amounted to $1 billion a year to support Afghanistan's Mujahideen in their battle against the Soviets.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Aided by a rebellious rogue of a CIA agent, Gust Avarakos who was steeped in the Greek culture of manhood and who headed much of the strategic planning and weapons procurement, he pushed millions of dollars almost clandestinely,through Congress to achieve what became his principal objective in life, the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan. After drinking and schtupping, of course. Our boy never went on a trip to the region without a lady to hold,although whatever woman he was with had to pretend she was virginal while in Muslim countries like Pakistan. Religion however, did not prevent the Egyptian Defense Minister from being enthralled by Charlie's uh, personal belly dancer.
The story is serious and zany all at the same time, as if it were written in equal parts by Joseph Heller, Larry McMurtry and the great military historian, Victor Davis Hanson. What became Wilson's obsession led to the withdrawal of the Soviets, and ultimately, was an important nail in the coffin of the Evil Empire.
The Afghans have been through this before, actually many times before, for over a thousand years, and nobody had ever been able to conquer them and hold the territory. The Afghans fight with obsolete weapons, on horseback and on foot. Slowly but surely unless stopped, the Russians will smother out the Afghan's will to fight. There must be an intrusion, something to upset the balance of balance between the tribes and the Russians.
That intrusion will come in the form of Congressman Charlie Wilson of Texas. He is Hollywood handsome, tough, smart, Annapolis trained, party lover, womanizer, patriot, and anti-communist. He is a Christian from Bible-Belt Texas who loves the Israelis. The key to his story is that he is a member of the House Appropriations Committee (HAC), the most powerful committee in the Congress because it dispenses more than $500 billion per year in spending. If you are on the right subcommittee of the HAC, you can cut the right deals and get things done, and that's what Wilson was born to do.
Enter Gust Avrakotos, CIA's man in control of Afghanistan. He is a renegade, abusive of authority, and anything but a company man. He calls the blue bloods who run the Agency "cake eaters". He is the man who can get things done, and he does not care who gets in the way, because you are either part of the problem or part of the solution. Together Charlie Wilson and Gust Avrakotos are going to make history. Their intention is nothing short of enabling the Afghan tribal warriors to win the war against the Russians, and in the next 523 mesmerizing pages they show you how they did it. Here are some highlights:
* It would start out small. Wilson would get Gust $5 million from the Congress. The Saudis would match the funds and it would be $10 million. It would grow to $25, $50, and $100 million. Before Wilson was done, the US was spending hundreds of millions of dollars funding the Afghan tribes. The Russians would have to spend 10 to 50 times as much to match the American spending because the CIA through Gust was getting a much bigger bang for the buck than the Russians.
* The Russians dominated the air with planes and helicopters, but soon America was supplying shoulder fired missiles that could take down those planes and helicopters. The Russians went from dominating the air, to being sitting ducks. A $70,000 portable weapon was bringing down a $20 million helicopter. The Russians were afraid to fly.
* The bureaucrats at CIA were fighting Wilson and Avrakotos all the way, until word came from CIA Director Casey to get on board or get left behind. President Reagan got behind the program as well.
* You will meet Houston heiress Joanne Herring who would introduce Wilson to all the right people, including the President of Pakistan whose people would act as the go between with the weapons coming from America and going to the Afghans.
* Even the Israelis would get involved as the largest repository of Russian weapons in the world, leftovers from two Arab-Israeli wars. The CIA had a policy of not introducing American made weapons into a theater of war because of the potential backlash.
* When it comes to Wilson, there are always the girls. Wilson surrounded himself with the most beautiful women, which included his entire all girl staff in the Congress. He is probably the only Congressman who could and did get away with it.
* Wilson was totally unique and was one of the few Congressmen that could be counted on in the clutch. When a man was down on his knees, Wilson was there to pick him up. He defended Congressman John Murtha during the ABSCAM scandal where various members of Congress were entrapped taking brides. He defended Congressman Carl Stokes who was arrested for drunken driving. His willingness to protect people endeared him to countless members of Congress who would later protect Wilson.
* Between Wilson and Gus Avrakotos they had virtually created their own defense contractor, that's how much war material they were buying. They actually for a while controlled the demand for AK 47's throughout the world, including the cost of ammunition.
* It was in negotiations where Wilson shined. He was able to raise untold hundreds of millions of dollars for the war, and bring enemies together like Israel and Pakistan's President Zia who on more than one occasion told Wilson, if I see one Star of David on the military supplies coming into this country I am going to go nuts.
Although this book is TRUE, it reads like fiction through and through. You just can't put down Charlie Wilson's War once you have begun it. In light of our predicament in Afghanistan and Iraq today, it is even more compelling that you read this book now. The Afghans who are fighting us today are the remnants of the army we trained a generation ago to fight the Russians. Much of the weapons they currently use against us come from the caches that we supplied them during the Russian invasion.
After we helped them win the war against the Russians, we walked away, and left them on their own. They did not forget this, and in many ways we are paying a price for it now. Read Charlie Wilson's War and I promise you that you will not only love the book, but better understand our current state of affairs. Thank you for reading this review.
Richard C. Stoyeck