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The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,882 Ratings  ·  202 Reviews
In June 2010, Michael Hastings's extraordinary, uncensored "Rolling Stone "article, "The Runaway General," shocked the world and set off a series of events that culminated in the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal. Now, THE OPERATORS will lead us even deeper into the war, its politics, and its major players at a time when such insight is demanded and desperately nee ...more
ebook, 394 pages
Published December 6th 2011 by Little Brown and Company (first published June 1st 2011)
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Feb 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Concerned citizens, students of military history
Recommended to Micheal by: Michael Hastings on Bill Maher
I shudder with sadness and regret for Afghanistan, my own country and at my own naiveté.

I believed, that for the purpose of women to be able to get out from under the persecution and violence of an archaic culture, for children (girls) to be able to go to school, and for a populace to eventually live in a peaceful environment, that US presence in Afghanistan was just and necessary. The counter terrorism argument lost its validity with the ouster of Osama and the start of the Iraq war; but the p
Dave Cullen
Jan 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. I plunged into this book now, and it's electrifying.

The writing is so crisp, candid and insightful. He rips back the curtain and takes us inside this world, of senior military in a war zone in the Middle East.

The stories are incredible but it's the voice that really hit me. Kind of revelatory, actually. He's setting a new benchmark for this generation of writers. I don't say that lightly.

Go get this book now.
Bill LaBrie
Nov 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: military, conspiracy, politics
Look at this book carefully: It got one man fired and (likely) another killed.

In a personally-revealing chapter of The Operators, Michael Hastings cites passages from Phillip Knightley's The First Casualty while describing the odd subculture of the war correspondent. The whole of the famous quote used in the title of Knightley's book goes: "In war, the first casualty is truth."

In most ways, this casualty is unavoidable. The fog of war and its power to suffocate the truth is providential in many
Bradley Farless
Jul 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
As a US Army Veteran that served for 8 years and did two combat tours (one during the first six months of the war with Iraq and one later with an ADA unit), so much of what Hastings describes regarding military culture, the feeling on the ground among people who are actually doing the work and the disconnect that often exists between command officers (and sometimes E-8s) and the rest of the troops is spot on. It was also nice to see a real profile of higher ranking people that portrays them as h ...more
Aug 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"He's a war geek," reporter Hastings writes here of Gen. McChrystal, the man he brought down. "He spends his vacations at battlefields." Hastings is now dead : his battlefield was LA where his car blew up. He was probably murdered by the US military complex which controls America. Meantime, our Prez is perfect for the US show window. (He isn't "allowed" to do anything). Read this book by an American martyr. Our morality has gone to Hell. (Did we ever have any?)

Philip Girvan
Aug 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read a fair number of book concerning the Iraq War (less so about Afghanistan), and I would rank The Operators at or near the top.

The book provides a good account of General Stanley McCrystal from his West Point escapades to his ruthless efficiency as head of Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq. Among other successes, JSOC troops captured Saddam Hussein and killed the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. There were a number of scandals and controversies along the way, suc
Dan Bell
Jun 24, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history
There was nothing wild or terrifying about this story. It was your typical story of civil-military strife during a conflict. The Operators was simply a journalist's look as an outsider into the workings of the military. Worse, the author, the recently-deceased Michael Hastings, contradicted himself repeated throughout the story, trying to play the selfless journalist looking out for America's best interest.

No, I'm sorry, I don't buy. From the get-go, it was apparent that Hastings saw this as a
Barry Eisler
Feb 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Operators covers, in excellent prose and with perfect pacing, three broad topics. First, the insanity and futility of America's war in Afghanistan. Second, the way decisions are made in Washington and at the Pentagon -- the bureaucratic battles, the petty resentments and one-upmanship, the alliances and betrayals. And third, the realities of journalism -- the tradeoffs journalists engage in between access and honesty, the way journalists allow themselves to be seduced and suborned by the pow ...more
Apr 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: afghanistan
I didn't realize when I requested this book it was by the "infamous" Rolling Stone reporter Michael Hastings. I had to overcome my initial feelings of disdain for this guy who got McChrystal fired. But it was McChrystal who got himself fired, not Hastings. Hastings did his job and this book reads like Bob Woodward's book or Megan Stack's "Every Man in this Village is a Liar." It's visceral, penetrating, and page turning. Hastings is no wimp nor a wallflower. Once when McChrystal's staff is tryin ...more
Amar Pai
Entertaining although I didn't learn too much new. Crazy that McChrystal would openly talk shit about Obama to Rolling Stone... what did he think would happen? This book is like the movie Almost Famous except instead of a young reporter embedding with a rock band it's a youngish reporter embedding with four star generals who have a vaguely rock-star vibe to them
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Military Authors ...: The Operators 1 9 Oct 16, 2015 06:55AM  
  • Gentlemen Bastards: On the Ground in Afghanistan with America's Elite Special Forces
  • Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan
  • We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People
  • Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War
  • The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor
  • All In: The Education of General David Petraeus
  • Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War
  • With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful
  • The End Game: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama
  • Black Hearts: One Platoon's Descent Into Madness in Iraq's Triangle of Death
  • This Man's Army
  • The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War
  • The War I Always Wanted: The Illusion of Glory and the Reality of War: A Screaming Eagle in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • The Wars of Afghanistan: Messianic Terrorism, Tribal Conflicts, and the Failures of Great Powers
  • The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth
  • The Hunt for KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
  • Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War
  • George Washington and Benedict Arnold: A Tale of Two Patriots
Michael Hastings was a contributing editor to Rolling Stone. Over a five year span, he regularly covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He started his career at Newsweek magazine in 2002, and was named the magazine’s Baghdad correspondent in 2005. In 2008, he reported on the U.S. presidential elections for Newsweek. His work has appeared in GQ, The Washington Post, the L.A. Times, Slate, Salon, ...more
More about Michael Hastings...
“The simple and terrifying reality, forbidden from discussion in America, was that despite spending $600 billion a year on the military, despite having the best fighting force the world had ever known, they were getting their asses kicked by illiterate peasants who made bombs out of manure and wood.” 6 likes
“Janet Malcolm had famously described journalism as the art of seduction and betrayal. Any reporter who didn't see journalism as "morally indefensible" was either "too stupid" or "too full of himself," she wrote. I disagreed. Without shutting the door on the possibility that I was both stupid and full of myself, I'd never bought into the seduction and betrayal conceit. At most, journalism - particularly when writing about media-hungry public figures - was like the seduction of a prostitute. The relationship was transactional. They weren't talking to me because they liked me or because I impressed them; they were talking to me because they wanted the cover of Rolling Stone.” 3 likes
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