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I'd like to think that someday it will be beautiful again. Gho Disturbing, deeply disturbing. Ghost Wars takes a close look at the politics and plotting behind it all, as well as the citizens who endured it. Jan 17, Clif rated it it was amazing. Yet bureaucracy, technical limitations, logistics and concern about The CIA was created by Harry Truman in an attempt to prevent a surprise like Pearl Harbor from happening again.

Yet bureaucracy, technical limitations, logistics and concern about civilian deaths kept attacks from being mounted.

Ghost Wars is a testament to the difficulty of bringing government to bear on any problem because of the turfs that are protected, the egos involved and the challenge of managing a priority list that all can agree on. Readers of Ghost Wars are advised to remember the ease of seeing with hindsight where the course of history is known, the goal is clear and it appears that everything conspires to thwart good intentions.

There are problems with marking enemies and acting against them before they do the deeds we expect them to do. We may think the world is filled with malign intentions but they are nothing compared to the malign intentions we can imagine being directed at us. Striking first may seem to be wise and the only sure bet against threats, but unless you wait until an act is made against you, there is a great risk of creating the kind of insecure and chaotic world we all want to avoid. At the moment I write, the bogeyman is Iran, and war is thought by some to be preferable to allowing just the possibility that one more country might eventually possess a nuclear weapon.

Ghost Wars is richly descriptive of individuals, from the halls of Washington to the caves of Afghanistan. Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Tajik leader of the Northern Alliance, is a protagonist as he first holds off the Russians and then willingly cooperates with the CIA to the extent that he can while under pressure from the Taliban. And did you know the Taliban has been in Afghanistan for ages? The book describes how the incarnation that we know came about from the historic Taliban. And Pakistan The insecurity of the civilian politicians, cowering before the might of the military, is fully explainied.

There are so many technical details that I found fascinating.

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You'll read of the development of drones, the Predator in particular, that I had always thought would have been the magic bullet for bin Laden. It's not so simple! You'll read of Massoud's forces keeping decrepit Soviet helicopters running, even going so far as to cram the engine from one type of chopper into another - to the horror of Americans who occasionally were flown to see Massoud in them.

You'll read of the ways in which denial of US involvement is gained by purchasing Russian and Chinese weapons in massive quantities to equip friendly forces. Ghost Wars is a huge book and I had left it on the shelf for some time because of that, but from the first pages I was snagged into a great read.

Tomsen's book is written from the point of view of a State Department employee challenged with promoting a policy at odds with the operations of the CIA that Steve Coll describes. Tomsen's book is far better at portraying the Afghans, the geopolitical situation of the country, and the non-American actors, while Coll's account excels in depicting the details from inside the CIA and the American actors.

The result is a comprehensive look at the situation with no feeling of the same ground being covered twice.

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This book was well researched and well executed. I have to admit I had to keep a flow chart to track all of the incestuous relationships. I will also say that my patriotism about America and our government took a severe ass whipping. Don't get me wrong, I hold no illusions, nor am I a head in the sand no pun intended type, but by the Goddess this book left me in a state of such shit that being a hermit started looking like an option.

The lies, the machinations, the thievery, the dishonesty and t This book was well researched and well executed. The lies, the machinations, the thievery, the dishonesty and the blame game; all on display and minutely detailed. The intensity and the twists of a great noir novel, made all the more horrifying in its truth. Left me with so much impotent rage I started having road rage!

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I recommend the read, just be ready to indulge in some self therapy when its done. Jun 29, TheSkepticalReader rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction.

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But while this is a good non-fiction book I would recommend everyone read, a surprising amount of information in here is not very astonishing. I guess I have the men in my family to thank for discussing politics during those summer vacations and days-long visits where the women would be in part of the living room and the men on the other. Depressing but intense.

But despite that, Ghost Wars is a small treasury of lots of new information names, events, organizations that I was not familiar with.

While I never attempted to memorize all of it, the relationship between certain countries and how they mutated over the years did shed a lot of light on the on-going politics today. Overall, this was a fulfilling experience but also one that makes me crave more. Growing up in America, I was constantly encouraged to stroke the American ego by blinding myself to all else but thanks to racial discriminating white America, I learned fairly quickly America is not the paradise it claims to be. It is the round-bellied, morbidly obese, utterly revolting, white bully I met in high school.

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Thou art such a fucking bitch. I would recommend this to people who genuinely want to learn the truth about current affairs. If you are incredibly patriotic to the point where you blind yourself to all the negative sides of America or any country really , this is not the book for you. If you are easily offended by religious beliefs and how they play into politics, this is not the book for you. Yours truly, An incredibly cynical pessimist who has no sense of patriotism to any body or country , no religious beliefs, and no faith in humanity what-so-bloody-ever.

This is a fascinating look at the US and specifically CIA involvement in Afghanistan from the late 70s to early s. Coll does a tremendous job of contextualizing each major moment in the Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union and the subsequent radicalization of the region and blowback against American involvement.

I'm oversimplifying here, to be sure, as there were a lot of other factors going into whether to attack Bin Laden on Afghan soil, but it's an interesting thought experiment. I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in South Asia and American relations with it in the last part of the 20th Century, as well as anyone hoping to better understand how the CIA works and how it interacts with the rest of the Washington machine. And in a strange way, I think this book should be taught in business school, as it's a tremendous case study of how large organizations with many different stakeholders make decisions or fail to make them.

Jul 05, Ryan rated it liked it. It won a Pulitzer, I doubt anyone can argue its journalistic integrity, thoroughness, or detail, and its scope, understanding, and layering of history is unequivocal — but it was a complete bear to get through. With this I found it hard to grasp a common thread of experience. I have to consider this book a CIA whitewash. The author, who was an editor at the Washington Post, which more or less tells me he's a system controlled propagandist, got access to "classified documents" and interviews with CIA agents that were on the ground in Afghanistan to the high level guys.

He just takes peoples, who should be some of the last on the planet you should trust, word for it. He passes the buck, glosses over or ignores the key facts about Afghanistan going back to the Carter ad I have to consider this book a CIA whitewash. He passes the buck, glosses over or ignores the key facts about Afghanistan going back to the Carter administration.

I just don't trust this book. The upside of Ghost Wars is it is well written and interesting, almost reading like a novel at times. Also even though this is a whitewash some of what makes it into this book would shock the average American who gets their info from controlled news sound bites so its not completely useless as long as you know your not getting the full story when you read this.

Feb 27, Alper Bahadir rated it it was amazing. Finally; it took me about 3 months but I finished it. This was one of the best nonfiction books I have read in a long time. I have no idea how Coll got access to that much information and how he was able to organize it that well. But just trying to imagine how much research must have gone into this book makes me want to shake his hand.

It's really a phenomenal collection of information and the language is accessible and intelligent at the same time. Some of the analysis is a bit superficial but Finally; it took me about 3 months but I finished it. Some of the analysis is a bit superficial but the rest of the book makes up for it enough to deserve 5 stars.


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Oct 02, Athan Tolis rated it it was amazing Shelves: history. What we have here is not just a level-headed, comprehensive and exhaustive account of Afghan history from to This masterpiece of a book is nothing less than the full and definitive account of the manner in which overt and covert American foreign policy mixed with Pakistani and Saudi domestic politics and their projection on foreign policy goals to directly foster the gestation and development of Islamic terrorism as we know it today.

Next you move to the almost equally bloody struggles between them all, the subsequent total abandonment of Afghanistan by the West to the interests of Pakistan, all the way through to the disgraceful period when US policy to the region was dictated by inconsequential interests of second-rate players in the oil industry and the misrule the west tolerated in Kabul after the departure of the Soviets.

From there you move almost naturally to the rise of the morally virtuous, home-grown, ethnically Pashtun, Wahhabi-educated, Pakistan-armed and Pakistan-supported Taliban, their intolerance of diversity and the hijacking of their cause by Osama Bin Laden, who not only bought their way into Kabul but very carefully cultivated and won the support of their leader, the one-eyed mullah Mohammed Omar. After that, the author gives a full account of the terrorist activities of Osama Bin Laden up to September 11 and takes care to set them within the context of other Middle Eastern terrorism, secular and religious, while in parallel documenting in full the CIA-led efforts to fight it.

George Bush Sr. It really is all there! All of the above, while true, is still not the best thing about this book. What makes this an unbelievable read how it gets hold of you. Steve Coll has managed to convert this very convoluted history into a gripping narrative with character development and a clear storyline.

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Special care is given to understanding the motivations of all the players, the multiple levels on which they were acting, the multiple goals they were pursing at the same time and the physical terrain in which they operated. And it also needed to secure secret bases from which to train guerrillas for its secret war in Kashmir. And all this it needed to do while still receiving financial assistance from the US and while pretending the country was on a path to democracy.

And you are left with zero doubt that western interests at some point simply went absent without leave.