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Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 [Paperback]

Steve Coll
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 28 2004
Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize

The explosive first-hand account of America's secret history in Afghanistan


With the publication of Ghost Wars, Steve Coll became not only a Pulitzer Prize winner, but also the expert on the rise of the Taliban, the emergence of Bin Laden, and the secret efforts by CIA officers and their agents to capture or kill Bin Laden in Afghanistan after 1998.


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Review

"Certainly the finest historical narrative so far on the origins of al Qaeda in the post-Soviet rubble of Afghanistan . . . Ghost Wars provides fresh details and helps explain the motivations behind many crucial decisions."
-The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Steve Coll is most recently the author of the New York Times bestseller The Bin Ladens. He is the president of the New America Foundation, a nonpartisan public policy institute headquartered in Washington, D.C., and a staff writer for The New Yorker. Previously heworked for twenty years at The Washington Post, where he received a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism in 1990. He is the author of six other books, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning bestseller Ghost Wars.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
IN THE TATTERED, cargo-strewn cabin of an Ariana Afghan Airlines passenger jet streaking above Punjab toward Kabul sat a stocky, broad-faced American with short graying hair. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great! June 21 2012
Format:Paperback
A heavy-duty treatment of the history of pre 9/11 meddling in Afghanistan. If anyone wants to understand the roots of Al-Qaeda, the war on the Taliban, and the Northern Alliance, they should certainly read this tome. No matter what your stance toward the war, if you are going to draw conclusions about these matters--a familiarity with these details is necessary.

Steve has done a fantastic job of staying balanced and maintaining a high level of objectivity. I highly recommend this, though like many other books of this type, its a long ride. You will need to be prepared to be in it for the long-haul. Make sure you pick up the latesst edition, it has been updated to factor in information that has been revealed well after 9/11. A number of blanks have been filled in, especially in cases where closed lips have been opened by more official proceedings.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Too Good. April 11 2014
By Megan
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Nine years after first publication I decided to sit down and plug through Steve Coll's Ghost Wars. I've been told repeatedly that this book is the quintessential read for the historical narrative on events that led to 9/11. Written through the lenses of US, Saudi, Pakistan foreign intelligence services, it seems to live up to its reputation.

Perhaps Ghost Wars main flaw is what makes the account so readable. It's too clean. While Coll remains fairly impartial (he could have maybe explored the US-Saudi and US-Pak relationship more), it fails to deliver the ever messy look and feel of the Af-Pak region, which swirls with conspiracy theories, rumours, perpetual duplicity and erroneous assumptions made by the kharijis or outsiders. My colleague's favourite saying is: "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story." I thought this adage applied to parts of the history (the less well-documented parts), and more so toward the end when it seemed they didn't understand what was going on in the region at all. Regardless, great book - very few could do this better than Steve Coll.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Requiem for a Lion Oct. 20 2008
Format:Paperback
I've never had the strongest opinion of the intellectual capabilities of Osama Bin Laden, but the events which Coll describes have made me reconsider my opinion. If, as it seems clear, the murder of Ahmed Shah Massoud was intended to coincide with the attacks upon the World Trade Centre towers, it was a stroke of evil genius: bin Laden removing the one man who would stand a chance of guiding the Americans to him even as bin Laden made himself the number one target of the United States. The relationship between Afghanistan and the West is longer and more complex than one book could ever encompass, but Coll does a fantastic job in providing the recent picture.

9/11 has come and gone, and here we are, still in Afghanistan. For years, Brezinski crowed about luring the Soviets into "the Afghan trap." This book clearly explains how the rest of the world has paid the price for this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hugely Informative Aug. 26 2011
Format:Paperback
This is a hugely informative and well researched book on the War on Terror and Afghanistan. I have never encountered a more well researched book on this topic in my life. The facts and sources are amazing. I would very much recommend this book to everybody wanting more information on the topic.
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