Charlie Wilson's War

Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
7
Free sample

The bestselling true story of a Texas congressman’s secret role in the Afghan defeat of Russian invaders is “a tour de force of reporting and writing” (Dan Rather).
 
A New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times bestseller.
 
Charlie Wilson’s penchant for cocktails and beauty-contest winners was well known, but in the early 1980s, the dilettante congressman quietly conducted one of the most successful covert operations in US history. Using his seat on the House Appropriations Committee, Wilson channeled hundreds of millions of dollars to support a ragged band of Afghan “freedom fighters” in their resistance against Soviet invaders.
 
Weapons were secretly procured and distributed with the help of an outcast CIA operative named Gust Avrakotos, who stretched the agency’s rules to the breaking point. Moving from the back rooms of Washington to secret chambers at Langley, and from arms-dealers’ conventions to the Khyber Pass, Wilson and Avrakotos helped the mujahideen win an unlikely victory against the Russians.
 
Adapted into a film starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, Charlie Wilson’s War chronicles an overlooked chapter in the collapse of the Soviet Union—and the emergence of a brand-new foe in the form of radical Islam.
 
“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.” —Publishers Weekly
 
“An engaging, well-written, newsworthy study of practical politics and its sometimes unlikely players, and one with plenty of implications.” —Kirkus Reviews
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About the author

George Crile III was an American journalist most closely associated with his three decades of work at CBS News. Crile worked more than twenty-five years as a producer and correspondent for CBS News and would occasionally appear in pieces he reported and produced. At first, he worked for the documentary unit "CBS Reports" but in 1985, began producing for 60 Minutes. Charlie Wilson's War, Crile's 2003 book that spent months on the New York Times' best seller list, began with a 60 Minutes profile in 1988 of a Texas congressman named Charlie Wilson. Crile died in November 2005. He was sixty-one.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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Published on
Dec 1, 2007
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Pages
560
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ISBN
9781555848095
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Political
History / Asia / Central Asia
Political Science / Intelligence & Espionage
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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“Entertaining history…Donovan was a combination of bold innovator and imprudent rule bender, which made him not only a remarkable wartime leader but also an extraordinary figure in American history” (The New York Times Book Review).

He was one of America’s most exciting and secretive generals—the man Franklin Roosevelt made his top spy in World War II. A mythic figure whose legacy is still intensely debated, “Wild Bill” Donovan was director of the Office of Strategic Services (the country’s first national intelligence agency) and the father of today’s CIA. Donovan introduced the nation to the dark arts of covert warfare on a scale it had never seen before. Now, veteran journalist Douglas Waller has mined government and private archives throughout the United States and England, drawn on thousands of pages of recently declassified documents, and interviewed scores of Donovan’s relatives, friends, and associates to produce a riveting biography of one of the most powerful men in modern espionage.

William Joseph Donovan’s life was packed with personal drama. The son of poor Irish Catholic parents, he married into Protestant wealth and fought heroically in World War I, where he earned the nickname “Wild Bill” for his intense leadership and the Medal of Honor for his heroism. After the war he made millions as a Republican lawyer on Wall Street until FDR, a Democrat, tapped him to be his strategic intelligence chief. A charismatic leader, Donovan was revered by his secret agents. Yet at times he was reckless—risking his life unnecessarily in war zones, engaging in extramarital affairs that became fodder for his political enemies—and he endured heartbreaking tragedy when family members died at young ages.

Wild Bill Donovan reads like an action-packed spy thriller, with stories of daring young men and women in his OSS sneaking behind enemy lines for sabotage, breaking into Washington embassies to steal secrets, plotting to topple Adolf Hitler, and suffering brutal torture or death when they were captured by the Gestapo. It is also a tale of political intrigue, of infighting at the highest levels of government, of powerful men pitted against one another. Donovan fought enemies at home as often as the Axis abroad. Generals in the Pentagon plotted against him.

J. Edgar Hoover had FBI agents dig up dirt on him. Donovan stole secrets from the Soviets before the dawn of the Cold War and had intense battles with Winston Churchill and British spy chiefs over foreign turf. Separating fact from fiction, Waller investigates the successes and the occasional spectacular failures of Donovan’s intelligence career.

It makes for a gripping and revealing portrait of this most controversial spymaster.
The untold story of how America’s secret war in Laos in the 1960s transformed the CIA from a loose collection of spies into a military operation and a key player in American foreign policy.

January, 1961: Laos, a tiny nation few Americans have heard of, is at risk of falling to communism and triggering a domino effect throughout Southeast Asia. This is what President Eisenhower believed when he approved the CIA’s Operation Momentum, creating an army of ethnic Hmong to fight communist forces there. Largely hidden from the American public—and most of Congress—Momentum became the largest CIA paramilitary operation in the history of the United States. The brutal war lasted more than a decade, left the ground littered with thousands of unexploded bombs, and changed the nature of the CIA forever.

With “revelatory reporting” and “lucid prose” (The Economist), Kurlantzick provides the definitive account of the Laos war, focusing on the four key people who led the operation: the CIA operative whose idea it was, the Hmong general who led the proxy army in the field, the paramilitary specialist who trained the Hmong forces, and the State Department careerist who took control over the war as it grew.

Using recently declassified records and extensive interviews, Kurlantzick shows for the first time how the CIA’s clandestine adventures in one small, Southeast Asian country became the template for how the United States has conducted war ever since—all the way to today’s war on terrorism.
A landmark collaboration between a thirty-year veteran of the CIA and a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist, The Main Enemy is the dramatic inside story of the CIA-KGB spy wars, told through the actions of the men who fought them.

Based on hundreds of interviews with operatives from both sides, The Main Enemy puts us inside the heads of CIA officers as they dodge surveillance and walk into violent ambushes in Moscow. This is the story of the generation of spies who came of age in the shadow of the Cuban missile crisis and rose through the ranks to run the CIA and KGB in the last days of the Cold War. The clandestine operations they masterminded took them from the sewers of Moscow to the back streets of Baghdad, from Cairo and Havana to Prague and Berlin, but the action centers on Washington, starting in the infamous "Year of the Spy"—when, one by one, the CIA’s agents in Moscow began to be killed, up through to the very last man.

Behind the scenes with the CIA's covert operations in Afghanistan, Milt Bearden led America to victory in the secret war against the Soviets, and for the first time he reveals here what he did and whom America backed, and why. Bearden was called back to Washington after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan and was made chief of the Soviet/East Euro-pean Division—just in time to witness the fall of the Berlin Wall, the revolutions that swept across Eastern Europe, and the implosion of the Soviet Union.

Laced with startling revelations—about fail-safe top-secret back channels between the CIA and KGB, double and triple agents, covert operations in Berlin and Prague, and the fateful autumn of 1989—The Main Enemy is history at its action-packed best.
In See No Evil, one of the CIA’s top field officers of the past quarter century recounts his career running agents in the back alleys of the Middle East. In the process, Robert Baer paints a chilling picture of how terrorism works on the inside and provides compelling evidence about how Washington politics sabotaged the CIA’s efforts to root out the world’s deadliest terrorists.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, the world witnessed the terrible result of that intelligence failure with the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In the wake of those attacks, Americans were left wondering how such an obviously long-term, globally coordinated plot could have escaped detection by the CIA and taken the nation by surprise. Robert Baer was not surprised. A twenty-one-year veteran of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations who had left the agency in 1997, Baer observed firsthand how an increasingly bureaucratic CIA lost its way in the post–cold war world and refused to adequately acknowledge and neutralize the growing threat of Islamic fundamentalist terror in the Middle East and elsewhere.

A throwback to the days when CIA operatives got results by getting their hands dirty and running covert operations, Baer spent his career chasing down leads on suspected terrorists in the world’s most volatile hot spots. As he and his agents risked their lives gathering intelligence, he watched as the CIA reduced drastically its operations overseas, failed to put in place people who knew local languages and customs, and rewarded workers who knew how to play the political games of the agency’s suburban Washington headquarters but not how to recruit agents on the ground.

See No Evil is not only a candid memoir of the education and disillusionment of an intelligence operative but also an unprecedented look at the roots of modern terrorism. Baer reveals some of the disturbing details he uncovered in his work, including:

* In 1996, Osama bin Laden established a strategic alliance with Iran to coordinate terrorist attacks against the United States.
* In 1995, the National Security Council intentionally aborted a military coup d’etat against Saddam Hussein, forgoing the last opportunity to get rid of him.
* In 1991, the CIA intentionally shut down its operations in Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia, and ignored fundamentalists operating there.

When Baer left the agency in 1997 he received the Career Intelligence Medal, with a citation that says, “He repeatedly put himself in personal danger, working the hardest targets, in service to his country.” See No Evil is Baer’s frank assessment of an agency that forgot that “service to country” must transcend politics and is a forceful plea for the CIA to return to its original mission—the preservation of our national sovereignty and the American way of life.


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