CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History

George Crile, Author . Atlantic Monthly $26 (416p) ISBN 978-0-87113-854-5

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. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/26/2003
Release date: 04/01/2003
Show other formats
FORMATS
Book - 1 pages - 978-1-4332-4303-5
Paperback - 550 pages - 978-1-84354-736-5
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4332-6834-2
Hardcover - 877 pages - 978-0-7862-5970-0
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7861-2546-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7861-2596-8
MP3 CD - 978-0-7861-8852-9
Book - 978-0-7861-9027-0
Paperback - 560 pages
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4551-0399-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7861-3445-8
Compact Disc - 978-0-7861-7995-4
MP3 CD - 978-0-7861-8112-4
Compact Disc - 978-0-7861-8941-0
Prebound-Other - 550 pages - 978-0-613-99805-5
Paperback - 550 pages - 978-0-8021-4341-9
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4332-0412-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-4332-0413-5
Open Ebook - 560 pages - 978-1-55584-809-5
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.