Rob Maynard's Reviews > Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times

Charlie Wilson's War by George Crile
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Mar 28, 11

Read in March, 2011

Charlie Wilson's war is indispensible for anyone who wants to understand the roots of our current war in Afghanistan. It's also a primer on how Washington worked in the 1970s-1980s under Reagan, Tip O'Neill, and others. Congressman Charlie Wilson and the CIA funneled billions of dollars worth of money and equipment to the Mooj, or Mujahadeen, in Afghanistan to "bleed" the Soviet 40th Army. Every penny, every bullet, went via Pakistan's ISI, as a condition of Pakistan allowing it all. Wilson, his delusions of Churchillian "Great Man" grandeur fueled by cocaine, alcohol, pretty women, and the perks of a seat on powerful Congressional committees, was able to take the campaign from one to "bleed" the Soviets to one that led to the biggest military humiliation in Soviet history, a defining event in the collapse of that empire.

The bad news? It was all so officially secret that the Mooj thought it was all due to Allah instead of America, and once the Soviets were gone, they've turned their weapons on America in the years since. Some American foreign policy critics, after the events of September 11th, talked about how we had created a monster that escaped our control and bit us back. This is what they were talking about.

The movie version of this book is far too glib to get across such amazing characters as Wilson and his CIA partner Gust Avrokotos, or the dozen or so other characters, from Presidents and Ministers to fringe characters that ended up playing huge roles. Read Charlie Wilson's War to understand the quagmire we find ourselves in today. The Karma, she is a bitch.
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