Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “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” as Want to Read:
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
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  8,156 ratings  ·  842 reviews
Charlie Wilson's War was a publishing sensation and a New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times bestseller. In the early 1980s, a Houston socialite turned the attention of maverick Texas congressman Charlie Wilson to the ragged band of Afghan "freedom fighters" who continued, despite overwhelming odds, to fight the Soviet invaders. Wilson, who sat on the all-p ...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published April 22nd 2004 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 2003)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Charlie Wilson's War, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Alan Rogers The movie does not do justice to this historical events , While reading the book I was not envisioning Tom Hanks as Charlie Wilson
Ghost Wars by Steve CollThe Looming Tower by Lawrence WrightDiplomacy by Henry KissingerLegacy of Ashes by Tim WeinerThe Cold War by John Lewis Gaddis
American Foreign Policy
391 books — 266 voters
The Spy Who Came In from the Cold by John le CarréTinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le CarréThe Day of the Jackal by Frederick ForsythThe Bourne Identity by Robert LudlumThe Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy
900 books — 1,172 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,156 ratings  ·  842 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of 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
Will Byrnes
Charlie Wilson's War is a chilling tale of how a few determined people can undermine all existing law, use their positions of power and influence to get unseen funds allocated, and pursue a major war without the approval of the American people. Crile was clearly enamored of Wilson, regarding him as a charismatic, larger-than-life figure, who performed a major service to the West by tipping the Soviet Union over the edge.

Crile (foreground) with Wilson (suspenders) and an unnamed ISI agent (shade
☘Misericordia☘ ⚡ϟ⚡⛈⚡☁ ❇️❤❣
... creating along the ISIS and probably the rest of forces behind the 9/11 horror... Niiice.
How to you really manage to get over people spending billions of tax-payers' money to promote terrorism shit? Read this and see how the author manages to endorse these actions in this research.

9/11 was a watershed, as stunning in its boldness as it was frightening in its message. ...
The fact that Afghanistan was the cradle of the attack should not have come as a surprise, for both the territory and t
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Quite an unputdownable book,the most interesting one I read last year.

Alarm bills started ringing in Pakistan when the Soviet Union invaded neighbouring Afghanistan,in 1979.Would Pakistan be next ?The Soviet occupation continued for nearly a decade.

Pakistan's military strongman,General Zia ul Haq,who had till then been shunned by the US, chose to turn Pakistan into a frontline state.It was a very risky policy,challenging the might of the Soviet Union and becoming heavily allied with the US effor
Rob Maynard
Mar 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Dec 31, 2007 rated it it was ok
This book was too long and poorly written. It repeated itself and skipped around quite a bit. It took me a very long time to get through this, despite being interested in the material. The author would have done better with a condensed book that flowed better. The story is over dramatized and extrodinarily biased. I'd like to hear from Casey, George, and others who were denigrated in this book. I think this is overinflated and a very egotistical version of an important turning point in US Histor ...more
Scott Rhee
During the height of the Cold War, the United States attempted to keep the spread of communism at bay throughout the world without actively engaging in real warfare with the Soviet Union. Certain hot spots, such as Southeast Asia and Central America, were the primary focus of the U.S. military and intelligence groups. Other hot spots, such as the Middle East, were of equal importance, due to their strategic importance as oil-rich nations.

Wedged in between the countries of Iran, Pakistan, Russia,
This definately falls in the category of truth being stranger than fiction because this story is so unlikely that no one would believe it if it hadn't happened. Not only is there much more detail and depth than the movie even hinted at, it's also a great inside look at how the American government and intelligence community actually work. ...more
Feb 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An incredibly entertaining history of Amercia's most successful covert war via proxy. When the Soviets went into Afghanistan, Congressman Charlie Wilson pushed to support the mujaheddin.

It's true that this eventually turned against us, providing the training that militarized those who would eventually become terrorists, but those dots wouldn't be connected until many years later. At the time, many thought it plausible that Afghanistan would be solidly a U.S. partisan. The U.S. State Department i
A drama based on a Texas congressman Charlie Wilson's covert dealings in Afghanistan, where his efforts to assist rebels in their war with the Soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects.

A movie was made based on this book (2007), directed by Mike Nichols with Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Aug 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Naeem by: Christine Kosmicki
This is a popular book which will soon be a film. But more goes on here than meets the eye. On the face of things, it seems like a book about the heroic efforts of a one man to help the Afghan Mujahideen take on the Soviets.

But the author is actually telling three stories. The second on is about the journey to find meaningful desire. Charlie Wilson is a wreck of a human who moves from false desire to false desire until he gets to the Mujahideen.

The question is: does he ever find his desire? If
Nov 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I guess now that Tom Hanks starred in a movie based on this book, I'm obligated to write a review. If you're into politics , intrigue, and war stories, this will be your favorite book. It's a completely true story, yet it reads like the best fiction in the genre. The movie covered a lot, but of course, a lot was left out, like Charlie's short marriage and long decline into alcoholism, which was only symbolized in the movie.

Charlie Wilson was a Democrat hawk who saved freedom for the world from t
Jan 10, 2009 marked it as to-read
Bear and I watched this movie last night and while on one hand I have to say it earned its "R" rating and then some, due to nudity, excessive profanity and immorality, it is nevertheless the incredible story of an unknown second-district Texas Congressman playboy who almost single-handedly procures millions of dollars (which were then matched by the Saudis) to support the Afghani mujahideen in their fight against the Soviet Union during the 1980s. Of course you know the outcome. What's so amazin ...more
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Let's see, Charlie Wilson, a freshman congressman from East Texas, given the most opportune appointment to the House Appropriation Committee. Look at what Charlie Wilson was able to accomplish as a member of this committee in the 1980's.

Whether you are for or against what occurred as a result of Charlie's actions, should money be tempting and/or influencing our senators and representatives?

The whole time I was reading this book, I couldn't help wonder what might be happening these days. It cou
Steve Kettmann
May 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I read this book to review it for the San Francisco Chronicle back in 2003, long before Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts made what I consider a pretty good movie out of it. An important book. Here's my review from 2003:

An army of one
How a fast-living Texas congressman secretly funneled billions of dollars to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets
Reviewed by Steve Kettmann

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Charlie Wilson's War

The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History

By George Crile

May 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
In this book George Crile idolises Congressman Charlie Wilson, a good ol' Texan, a coke-snorting, whisky-guzzling, whoring, skirt-chasing arms-dealing, freeloading, hit-and-run drunk-driver, who constantly broke US laws to support the mujahideen, known as "freedom fighters" in their day, now known as something else entirely.

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 n
Mar 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
A tremendously fun read and how many books on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the jihad against the Soviets can you say that about? I'd give it 5 stars, if I felt I could trust it completely, but if it isn't entirely true, you'd want it to be. An alcholic dissolute Congressman brings down the Soviet Union, working with renegade CIA agents, right wing Christain fundamentalists aligned with fundalmentalist Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan. How can you not like this story? It's a bit like ...more
Apr 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People who really like white people, preferably Americans
If I were able to go halvsies on the ratings I'd give it a 2 & 1/2. The beginning makes it very hard to put down and it was refreshing for once to hear people praising the culture that in this world of contemporary political analysis and unconventional warfare we have come to fear and despise, but you quickly get past that when you realize that this ethnocentric hatred is really just being diverted to the at-the-time "Evil Empire" Soviets. Eventually this visceral hatred of the Soviets really ge ...more
Apr 28, 2008 rated it liked it
I stumbled across a copy of this book while on vacation. I haven't seen the film version as of yet, but I always prefer to read the book if given the choice between the two.

This book is an astonishingly well-written report of how easily one man, in the right position, can circumvent due process and the rule of law. Everyone involved in the events described here seems to think of the incidents reported here as a great patriotic endeavor. I think it's a tremendous primer on the use of raw power.

May 14, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: lay reader
Shelves: militaryhistory
Introduces the reader to Charlie Wilson, a former Texas representative, and his involvement in the covert support provided to the mujihadeen. Loose on facts and long on speculation. The book does not provide a thorough history of US involvement nor does it attempt to. If it reads like fiction, a large of it may very well be just that.
Rick Wilson
A bit meandering at times. But an excellent history of US involvement in Afghanistan up until around 2001.
Jul 25, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm pretty conflicted about this one. It is an amazing true story with tremendous consequences (it could be argued for both good and bad) to every American. The story is very well told but filled with profanity (all of it, I presume, authentic). That was conflicting enough, but the most unsettling of all is how to weigh out the whole thing. It is fairly clear that the Russians' war with Afghanistan was the straw that financially broke the proverbial camel's back (along with an arms race with Ron ...more
Mar 13, 2013 rated it liked it
This book explains Charlie Wilson's involvement in getting funding for the CIA's Afghanistan operation. Here is what I learned:
1. Charlie Wilson and his CIA buddies use the F-bomb (or some crass equivalent) constantly
2. Certain congressman are great at persuading others to co-operate with them, even when they do not agree with the plan.
3. Afghanistan is a crazy place
4. Charlie Wilson earned his nickname "Goodtime Charlie"

One conclusion that I draw (I do not think the author or the historical pr
Nov 02, 2013 rated it did not like it
One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter-though remember the phrase cuts both ways. Charlie Wilson is one such man. In effect the book is a rather tragic one, Charlie Wilson did indeed change the history of our times as the subtitle states though not for the better. In arming the Afghan Mujaheddin in modern American tactics and weaponry Charlie Wilson and his compatriots in the very least offence armed our eventual enemies, and in the greatest degree helped facilitate that same relig ...more
Sep 19, 2014 rated it it was ok
This is a really interesting part of American History, but it's not a great book. The author bounces around too much, telling three-page short stories about people who helped in some minor way. It's cool to see how much really went into the Afghan war, and how lucky the participants really were, but the narrative is lost in all the research. People are given lengthy introductions and then never mentioned again - familiar-sounding names from chapter one are brought back, but we no longer know who ...more
Dana Stabenow
Charlie Wilson’s War I can best describe as a tale of Robin Hood and his merry men, a bunch of Washington D.C. true believers who never got over the Vietnam War, robbing the federal government to give to what they called the Afghan freedom fighters virtually unlimited funds and war materiel to boot the Soviet’s invading army back across their own border. It is a very entertaining read, it’s well written and incredibly well researched, but reading now what happened then through the prism of curre ...more
Jun 10, 2013 rated it liked it
A good yarn about Charlie Wilson, a Texas playboy Congressman who somehow found his calling as the lead advocate for the Afghan mujihadein (sp) fighting the Soviets in the 1980s. He worked with a maverick CIA agent on the project. The story is fun and wacky. The problem is the book is about 100 pages too long and the author goes to the well far too often about how crazy Wilson is or how much of a maverick the CIA agent can be and it becomes a bit trite in the middle. That all being said, it's an ...more
Jan 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Reads like a novel, with Charlie Wilson larger than life. The Epilogue though is very frightening -- leaving a legacy of armed Muslim fanatics battling each other in Afghanistan and the United States everywhere.
Lara Donnelly
Oct 13, 2017 rated it liked it
everything about this was great except that it could have been 100 pages shorter. Maybe if the author didn't insist on including ALL the racist and sexist jokes, verbatim. ...more
This is an extremely interesting topic and I forced my way through to the end in spite of the book being extraordinarily biased and being in bad need of some editing. There was some repetition, some skipping around and a severe lack of any sort of references. It's a memoir not a history, and reads like a tall tale. I might have given it 2.5 for the fact that it really does hit on some very interesting and important events, but it deserves to be rounded down, not up, for the strange conclusions d ...more
Lino  Matteo
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charlie Wilson's War
George Crile
Yes the mujahideen won the war against the Soviets. This caused American glee. Then the mujahideen turned their sights elsewhere – the glee soon slipped away. (Although they did help bring the Soviet Empire crashing down.)
It was not the Afghanis per se that caused the problems for American but the vacuum that was created, the Pakistanis that supported them and most of all, the radical Saudi’s that funded the cause, not only with money but with jihadis that to
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Henley-Putnam Uni...: Historical Covert Action Cases 1 6 Nov 03, 2013 09:11AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America's War With Militant Islam
  • See No Evil: The True Story of a Ground Soldier in the CIA's War on Terrorism
  • The Forever War
  • My American Journey
  • Shot Down: The True Story of Pilot Howard Snyder and the Crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth
  • Rawhide Down: The Near Assassination of Ronald Reagan
  • Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001
  • In the Company of Heroes: The Personal Story Behind Black Hawk Down
  • The Final Days
  • Surviving the Dragon: A Recent History of Tibet Through the Looking Glass of a Tibetan Lama
  • The Best and the Brightest
  • Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone
  • Against All Enemies
  • Paris 1919: Six Months that Changed the World
  • Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia
  • America Alone: The End of the World As We Know It
  • The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War
  • Firing Point (Jack Ryan Universe,  #29)
See similar books…
George Crile was an American journalist most closely associated with his three decades of work at CBS News.

Son of George Crile, Jr.; grandson of George Washington Crile.

From obituary:

George Crile, a television news producer who specialized in attacking difficult, controversial subjects, most famously in a documentary for CBS alleging that Gen. William C. Westmoreland and his mili

News & Interviews

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
8 likes · 2 comments
“On every front, the CIA was turning its guerrillas into a far smarter and more lethal fighting force.” 1 likes
“But the terrible truth is that the group of sleeping lions that the United States roused may well have inspired an entire generation of militant young Muslims to believe that the moment is theirs.” 1 likes
More quotes…