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Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story Of the Largest Covert Operation in History Paperback – Apr 28 2004


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (April 28 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802141242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802141248
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 15 x 22.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 762 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #376,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When Congressman Charlie Wilson set off for a weekend in Las Vegas on June 27, 1980, there was no confusion in his mind about why he had chosen to stay at Caesars Palace. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Yalensian on Feb. 14 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is pure adventure, whether the scene is Congress or Afghanistan. I simply could not put it down. George Crile tells the gripping story of how one congressman, Texan Charlie Wilson, took up the cause of Afghan freedom fighters and escalated American support for them many, many times over. Because of his efforts, billions of dollars were given to the mujahideen, including high-tech weaponry. Crile takes us behind closed doors in Congress, where Charlie Wilson wheels, deals, and strong-arms to get funding for Afghanistan; he takes us into the secret world of the CIA, where danger surrounds overseas stations and bureaucratic politics plagues operations.
At the heart is a cast of colorful characters, including Wilson and CIA man Gust Avrokotos. Wilson--a socially liberal, staunchly anti-Communist Democrat from a conservative and religious district of Texas--womanizes, drinks, (maybe) does drugs, is involved in scandal after scandal (including a hit-and-run car accident), and yet is re-elected over and over and singlehandedly secures funding for the freedom fighters. Avrokotos is the foul-mouthed (he has a sexual analogy for just about every situation), tough-talking son of Greek immigrants from a steel town near Pittsburgh, who joins the Agency in the 1960s and eventually heads up the Near East division, where he adeptly manages the Afghanistan operation.
I loved the book, plain and simple, but I did have a problem or two with it. Crile seems to accept as fact nearly everything Wilson and Avrokotos said in their interviews. Their accounts form the backbone of the book, and Crile seldom questions their veracity. More than that, he usually adopts their opinions as his own: if Avrokotos dislikes this or that CIA colleague, then so does Crile.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 3 2004
Format: Hardcover
We purchased this book as a Christmas gift for my Father-in-law, who is incredibly difficult to buy for. This is the first gift ever I think he has actually enjoyed. So much so, that he has already passed it on to two other people and still talks about it six months later. We have given several books before, so this must be worth the read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Oct. 30 2003
Format: Hardcover
Charlie Wilson's War is a non-fiction book that drew me into its story just like good novels do. I found this implausible, yet true, story so captivating that I had a hard time putting the book down. Not only is Charlie Wilson's War a compelling story that flows like a novel, the foibles of the main characters and the improbability of them forming a secret alliance, and then teaming with the Mujahideen to fight and defeat the Soviets seems to be right out of a Tom Clancy book. But it's not. It's a chronicle of actual history and a partial biography. Actually, it contains enough information about the two main characters, Charles Wilson and Gust Avrakotos that it is partially two biographies.
Somehow, despite the fact that I despised the boozing, womanizing, schmoozing, and politics of "Good Time Charlie," I found myself rooting for him throughout the story. I had a similar feeling about Gust Avrakotos, the Greek immigrant CIA case officer who teamed-up with the Congressman from Texas to wage a revenge-inspired war through the Afghan Mujahideen against the Soviets. Despite Gust's crudity and roughness of character, I rooted for him too. I think it would be hard not to root for these rogues. They and their associates form a cast of outrageous characters that I found myself amazed at and at other times laughing out loud at their antics.
Unfortunately, there isn't a cozy and happy ending to this well-written story. The broad outlines of what happened most of us know: The Soviet Army retreated from Afganhistan in defeat - an event that many historians believe may have been a catalyst or accelerator for the events that culminated in the collapse of the Soviet Union itself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kelly on Sept. 12 2003
Format: Hardcover
Were more war histories written this way, I believe that fewer women in the book would have simply been the Congressman's girlfriends and more (i.e., more than one) would have been among the key players shaping world history.
As a stereotypical woman, I usually consider books about war history to be a dull collection of grim facts. Nonetheless, I randomly looked at the jacket of this book at our local bookstore only to find THE MOST RIVETING BOOK I HAVE EVER READ! It's an extraordinarily engaging narrative of the personal relationships leading to events that not only do I remember (as in, many occurring during my lifetime), but that profoundly affect my life today as an American.
The book is ingenius on many levels. But the one that meant the most to me is how the author explained the interplay of characters' backgrounds, perceptions, beliefs, and feelings so that I could see how individuals and relationships have shaped decisions. Had military policy and history been presented in this manner while I was still in school, I would not have been turned off to the subject, and I would know a lot more today about the world we live in. One of the many things this book shows is how important it is that women be educated about international military issues. My being so thrilled while reading proves that stereotypical women like me can be just as enraptured by the drama as so many men seem to be!
I could go on, but the truth is that I simply cannot say enough wonderful things about this book. I am extrordinarily grateful to the author and those who helped him write it.
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