88 Days to Kandahar: A CIA Diary

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The “first” Afghan War, a CIA war in response to 9/11, was directed by the CIA Station Chief in Islamabad. It put Hamid Karzai in power in 88 days. “If you want an insider’s account of the first American-Afghan War, you can’t do better than this…Important reading to understand where we are today” (Library Journal).

From his preparation of the original, post-9/11 war plan, approved by President Bush, through to “final” fleeting victory, Robert Grenier relates the tale of the “southern campaign,” which drove al-Qa’ida and the Taliban from Kandahar, its capital, in an astonishing eighty-eight days.

“With his ringside seat as the senior agency official stationed closest to Afghanistan, Grenier is able to describe meeting by meeting, sometimes phone call after phone call, how events unfolded” (The New York Times). In his gripping account, we meet: General Tommy Franks, who bridles at CIA control of “his” war; General “Jafar Amin,” a gruff Pakistani intelligence officer who saves Grenier from committing career suicide; Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s brilliant ambassador to the US, who tries to warn her government of the al-Qa’ida threat; and Hamid Karzai, the puzzling anti-Taliban insurgent, a man with elements of greatness, petulance, and moods.

With suspense and insight, Grenier details his very personal struggles and triumphs. 88 Days to Kandahar is “an action-packed tale, rich in implication, of the post-9/11 race to unseat the Taliban and rout al-Qaida in Afghanistan” (Kirkus Reviews).
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About the author

Robert L. Grenier had a much decorated, twenty-seven-year career in the CIA’s clandestine service. A renowned Middle East expert, he has been deputy national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia. He organized the CIA’s Counter-Proliferation Division and headed the CIA’s basic training facility, “The Farm.” From 1999 to 2002, he was CIA station chief in Islamabad. Subsequently, he was director of the CIA’s CounTerterrorism Center, responsible for all CIA counterterrorism operations around the globe. Currently, Grenier is chairman of ERG Partners, a consulting firm to businesses in the intelligence and security sector. Visit Robert-Grenier.com.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Simon and Schuster
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Published on
Jan 27, 2015
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Pages
464
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ISBN
9781476712093
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Military
History / Military / General
Political Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A Navy SEAL's firsthand account of American heroism during a secret military operation in Afghanistan.
Inspiration for a major motion picture by Mark Wahlberg.
On a clear night in late June 2005, four U.S. Navy SEALs left their base in northern Afghanistan for the mountainous Pakistani border. Their mission was to capture or kill a notorious al Qaeda leader known to be ensconced in a Taliban stronghold surrounded by a small but heavily armed force. Less then twenty-four hours later, only one of those Navy SEALs remained alive.

This is the story of fire team leader Marcus Luttrell, the sole survivor of Operation Redwing, and the desperate battle in the mountains that led, ultimately, to the largest loss of life in Navy SEAL history. But it is also, more than anything, the story of his teammates, who fought ferociously beside him until he was the last one left-blasted unconscious by a rocket grenade, blown over a cliff, but still armed and still breathing. Over the next four days, badly injured and presumed dead, Luttrell fought off six al Qaeda assassins who were sent to finish him, then crawled for seven miles through the mountains before he was taken in by a Pashtun tribe, who risked everything to protect him from the encircling Taliban killers.

A six-foot-five-inch Texan, Leading Petty Officer Luttrell takes us, blow-by-blow, through the brutal training of America's warrior elite and the relentless rites of passage required by the Navy SEALs. He transports us to a monstrous battle fought in the desolate peaks of Afghanistan, where the beleaguered American team plummeted headlong a thousand feet down a mountain as they fought back through flying shale and rocks. In this rich , moving chronicle of courage, honor, and patriotism, Marcus Luttrell delivers one of the most powerful narratives ever written about modern warfare-and a tribute to his teammates, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
On Friday, August 13, 2010, just as St. Martin's Press was readying its initial shipment of this book, the Department of Defense contacted us to express its concern that our publication of Operation Dark Heart could cause damage to U.S. national security. After consulting with our author, we agreed to incorporate some of the government's changes into a revised edition of his book while redacting other text he was told was classified. The newly revised book keeps our national interests secure, but this highly qualified warrior's story is still intact. Shaffer's assessment of successes and failures in Afghanistan remains dramatic, shocking, and crucial reading for anyone concerned about the outcome of the war.

"While I do not agree with the edits in many ways, the DoD redactions enhance the reader's understanding by drawing attention to the flawed results created by a disorganized and heavy handed military intelligence bureaucracy." —Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer

Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer had run intelligence operations for years before he arrived in Afghanistan. He was part of the "dark side of the force"---the shadowy elements of the U.S. government that function outside the bounds of the normal system. His group called themselves the Jedi Knights and pledged to use the dark arts of espionage to protect the country from its enemies.

Shaffer's mission to Afghanistan, however, was unlike any he had ever experienced before.

There, he led a black-ops team on the forefront of the military efforts to block the Taliban's resurgence. They not only planned complex intelligence operations to beat back the insurgents, but also played a key role in executing those operations---outside the wire. They succeeded in striking at the core of the Taliban and their safe havens across the border in Pakistan. For a moment Shaffer saw us winning the war.

Then the military brass got involved. The policies that top officials relied on were hopelessly flawed. Shaffer and his team were forced to sit and watch as the insurgency grew---just across the border in Pakistan.

This wasn't the first time he had seen bureaucracy stand in the way of national security. He had participated in Able Danger, the aborted intelligence operation that identified many of the future 9/11 terrorists but failed to pursue them. His attempt to reveal the truth to the 9/11 Commission would not go over well with his higher-ups.

Operation Dark Heart tells the story of what really went on--and what went wrong--in Afghanistan. Shaffer witnessed firsthand the tipping point, when what seemed like certain victory turned into failure. Now, in this book, he maps out a way that could put us on the path to winning the war.

In 1791, General Arthur St. Clair led the United States army in a campaign to destroy a complex of Indian villages at the Maumee River in northwestern Ohio. Almost within reach of their objective, St. Clair's 1,400 men were attacked by about one thousand Indians. The U.S. force was decimated, suffering nearly one thousand casualties in killed and wounded, while Indian casualties numbered only a few dozen. But despite the lopsided result, it wouldn't appear to carry much significance; it involved only a few thousand people, lasted less than three hours, and the outcome, which was never in doubt, was permanently reversed a mere three years later. Neither an epic struggle nor a clash that changed the course of history, the battle doesn't even have a name. Yet, as renowned Native American historian Colin Calloway demonstrates here, St. Clair's Defeat--as it came to be known-- was hugely important for its time. It was both the biggest victory the Native Americans ever won, and, proportionately, the biggest military disaster the United States had suffered. With the British in Canada waiting in the wings for the American experiment in republicanism to fail, and some regions of the West gravitating toward alliance with Spain, the defeat threatened the very existence of the infant United States. Generating a deluge of reports, correspondence, opinions, and debates in the press, it produced the first congressional investigation in American history, while ultimately changing not only the manner in which Americans viewed, raised, organized, and paid for their armies, but the very ways in which they fought their wars. Emphasizing the extent to which the battle has been overlooked in history, Calloway illustrates how this moment of great victory by American Indians became an aberration in the national story and a blank spot in the national memory. Calloway shows that St. Clair's army proved no match for the highly motivated and well-led Native American force that shattered not only the American army but the ill-founded assumption that Indians stood no chance against European methods and models of warfare. An engaging and enlightening read for American history enthusiasts and scholars alike, The Victory with No Name brings this significant moment in American history back to light.
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