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The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan by [Hastings, Michael]
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4.1 out of 5 stars 164 customer reviews

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Length: 424 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Gives an insightful look at how powerful some of the US's top generals really are, and also unwraps some of the chaos behind allied military command and the so-called 'war on terror'. THE SUNDAY BUSINESS POST Hastings offers a fiercely intelligent analysis of how the American military spun the war in Afganistan. THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

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 PALK AWARD in journalism for his ROLLING STONE story 'The Runaway General'.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2190 KB
  • Print Length: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Plume (January 5, 2012)
  • Publication Date: 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
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #323,140 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nathan Webster TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 6, 2012
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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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have enormous respect for the troops who are sent to fight in places like Afghanistan.

But the politicians (and some of the commanders) who put them there? Not so much.

This book, with its authentic and stark portrayal of the thoughts and actions of one such commander, confirms the impression that the lives and money spent in Afghanistan are almost 100% utterly wasted. The sheer scale of the billions and billions of dollars and thousands upon thousands of lives poured down the drain for no good reason "we're there because we're there", is utterly mind boggling.

This book should be mandatory reading for everyone with any interest in the so-called war on terror.
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Format: Hardcover
What some have the nerve to call "yellow journalism" is what journalism is supposed to do: expose the powerful and well-connected failures, mistakes and corruption. Those who want to live in a fish bowl, be fed solely by the benevolence of their betters and avoid any critical thinking can bash Michael Hastings.

OTOH, those who want to know the truth want more real journalists like Hastings. That is why his book deserves 5 stars. There are way too few of his kind remaining in the US, which explains why our country is going down the drain. Without sunlight shed on the powerful, this Republic will collapse.

Guys like Hastings are the true patriots.
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