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First In: How Seven CIA Officers Opened the War on Terror in Afghanistan
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First In: How Seven CIA Officers Opened the War on Terror in Afghanistan

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  1,141 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
While America held its breath in the days immediately following 9/11, a small but determined group of CIA agents covertly began to change history. This is the riveting first-person account of the treacherous top-secret mission inside Afghanistan to set the stage for the defeat of the Taliban and launch the war on terror.

As thrilling as any novel, First In is a uniquely i
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Published May 10th 2005 by Presidio Press (first published 2005)
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A very interesting account of how CIA paramilitary operatives work in the field. I had read Jawbreaker in sixth grade first, and came upon the title in the footnotes. I never got around to buying it until ninth grade.
I had first read about Schroen himself in Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, which also provides intersting tidbits on Schroen's career. I would have expected Schroen to include his account of the Isl
May 28, 2015 Me rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought that this book was really slow at first and kind off boring just one huge packing list honestly. It had not much battles/action. It was an pretty good account through on it in which I thought was interested at times. It was definiteley though was not a cliff hanger, but it was still okay ish.
Aug 09, 2011 Evan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While an interesting tale of coalition building and coordination with tribal rebel factions and airport setup and startegy, I was hoping for more. The author claims that there was surprisingly little that he wrote which was censored for national security during the review stages, but this is also because a senior veteran CIA agent such as he had a pretty good idea what he could get away with exposing in the first place - and he self-censored probably 90% of what you'd want to be in the book for ...more
Jonathan Mckay
Aug 12, 2011 Jonathan Mckay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First In, is a first person account of the events between the 19th of September until the 10th of November, told mainly from the perspective of Gary Schroen, leader of the JAWBREAKER CIA squad sent to establish relations with the Northern Alliance in the Panjshir Valley, near the stalemated frontlines of the Taliban. Despite being the lead of US forces in Afghanistan (a 7 man crew), his account is very low to the ground, recounting the incessant problems of Diarrhea and relations and the daily i ...more
Sep 29, 2009 Celine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Feeling like I needed to revisit the US response to 9/11 and it's first [CIA:] mission to Afghanistan following 9/11 prompted my interest in reading this book now - plus my dad recommended it as a good read! It was interesting to learn about U.S. relations with the Northern Alliance early on, the amount of cash flow CIA agents had on hand was pretty overwhelming, friendly fire mishaps, Starbucks coffee, and gross descriptions of bathroom stalls & male camaraderie[regarding it:] added to the ...more
Apr 01, 2013 Michaelfortin2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you want to know about how the US was able to rout the Taliban in Afghanistan, this is the book to read. Given a choice between First In and Jawbreaker, another first hand account by a CIA agent, First In is better written and lacks the self centered egotistic writing of Jawbreaker. This is a story of how alliances are bought and the CIA went in and paved the way for special forces and eventually the rest of the military to invade. There are other books out there on the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and ...more
Aug 05, 2014 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting journal of not only the JAWBREAKER team's insertion into and effect upon the Northern Alliance's defeat of the Taliban capturing Kabul. Some humorous anecdotes and some amazing tales of battle, in addition to an edifying lesson regarding the mess that the United States created by arming and creating an appetite for cash in the Mujahadeen before abandoning the monsters they'd created. Leaving the Afghans to fight amongst themselves without any support or supervision once the soviet ...more
Dec 03, 2012 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enlightening insider's tale of the early period of the US/Afghanistan war as told by the leader of the first CIA team into Afghanistan. It's a great read at first as Schroen builds some suspense, but gets boring and monotonous as it becomes apparent that Schroen's team was only peripherally involved in the early stages of the war. Overall it is worth reading to learn how modern war is conducted - FUBAR as usual.
John Worthington
How would you like to have your retirement paperwork in and then 911 happens and suddenly you are needed to spearhead a team of CIA operatives in Afghanistan. This is a true story of a team who flew into Afghanistan just after 911 and the assination of the Northern Alliance leader. Their job was to assess the situation and offer help, in the form of cash (lots of it) and arms. It is a wonderful story; I love how when they come home there is no fan fair and they just fit back into society.
May 07, 2010 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting topic. I admire Mr. Schroen in many ways and I think his policy recommendations at the end of the text are very well thought out and insightful. However, he is not a narrative non-fiction writer. Text was slightly stilted and I found myself grimacing every time he mentioned his repetitive bowel issues. However, if you're interested in how the war in Afghanistan started, definitely check this out.
Aug 22, 2012 Zack rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was alright. Mr. Schroen's skill as a CIA employee seems much better than his writing skill. It was definitely not bad by any means, but the writing was a bit stilted at parts. Also, his seeming obsession with discussing his bowel movements was a bit odd.

Overall, not a bad read, but nothing particularly enlightening. We went in, bribed a bunch of people, ignored local politics, and the Taliban got beat down. Rather straight-forward.
Mar 03, 2012 Osman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While it is a good account of first boots in Afghanistan after the Sep 11, it also demonstrates the errors the US made starting a conflict in Afghanistan. This book reveals how unprepared the US started a battle that turned into a war. There was no strategy in place and there was no intel available.

Good read to learn about the first operations in Afghanistan, and to learn why the action taken lead to the current situation.
Mar 27, 2009 Dave rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Way overwritten, often too much detail to maintain interest, and too much of an aspect from the ground up, meaning lots of complaining about the stupidity of policy makers. But there is information and insight obtainable skimming and finding the nuggets. Also some amazing narratives, like the Northern Alliance cavalry charge against the Taliban.
Jul 15, 2011 Tyler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the book very interesting. It was a different perspective than other books I've read on the war in Afghanistan. All and all I liked it, it gave a good account of what life was like for a CIA Operative arriving in Afghanistan in 2001 and it described the struggle of dealing with the Afghans as well as the bureaucrats in Washington.
Jun 30, 2012 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent! "The bottom line was that no Spec Ops personnel would accompany JAWBREAKER into Afghanistan. The official reason given was that without SAR (Search and Rescue) capabilities, the mission was considered 'too dangereous' for U.S. military personnel." (page 35). "...our codename would be JAWBREAKER." (page 23).
Jan 19, 2016 Erik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating for being probably the most honest CIA memoir ever written, one assumes because Langley considered the early days in Afghanistan to be their crowning post-Cold War moment at the time. Has the feel of a good heist novel, the heist being the overthrow of the Taliban.
Aug 06, 2013 Shuja rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Half truth. Disagree with title extension "war on terror".. Its a war alright..A war for strategic US benefits. It should have been more like 'how the terror was spread by XXX". Its well written like any any factual account should be. Never finished it though..
This book was okay. It gave a detailed account of what the first boots on the ground in Afghanistan after 9/11 faced. If you read anything about the invasion you already know a lot about what this book has in it.
Jun 07, 2008 Jean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After visiting the CIA, I was intrigued by the group of men who went into Afghanistan immediately after 9/11. This was a great account of their tremendous risks, conditions and insight into the Special Forces that followed as well as the history preceding them in Afghanistan.
Feb 01, 2015 Justin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the best writing, and Schroen seemed a little naive at times, but an interesting insight nonetheless.
James Piper
Jan 14, 2012 James Piper rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I suspect few know how important the CIA was in Afghanistan both during the Soviet invasion and the 2001 invasion. Yet they'll be forever remembered for the Iraq WMD mess.
Michael Clauser
Solid read
Reading parts of this book for school. Good 'insider' look at the operations and strategy of the afghanistan invasion.
May 01, 2008 Maher rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really well-written, detailed account of operations in Afghanistan up to and during the war there.
Brian Bullerman
Jan 04, 2011 Brian Bullerman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting account of CIA's involvement in Afghanistan
Apr 15, 2013 Backslash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
quite liked it. good pacing and described things well.
Josh Jones
Gives a good general overview of the first CIA and ODA teams into Afghanistan after 9/11. Helps to understand how some of the political lines across Afghanistan formed into the present day factions.
Allen Perry
Jun 17, 2012 Allen Perry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. An excellent look into activities that we usually don't get to see. This book helps to define all the good things the CIA does for us that we rarely get to hear about.
Brian Tibby
Interesting book about the first CIA team in Afghanistan after 9/11. Great tactical insight into the beginning of the war on terror.
Connie Faull
Mar 11, 2009 Connie Faull rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting read. Gives a good background on U.S. Afghan relations going back to the 70s. Also interesting how these guys set up with the Northern Alliance once they got to Afghanistan.
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