• Directorate S

  • The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • By: Steve Coll
  • Narrated by: Malcolm Hillgartner
  • Length: 28 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 02-06-18
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.7 (272 ratings)

Regular price: $45.50

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Publisher's Summary

Resuming the narrative of his Pulitzer Prize-winning Ghost Wars, best-selling author Steve Coll tells for the first time the epic and enthralling story of America's intelligence, military, and diplomatic efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 9/11.
Prior to 9/11, the United States had been carrying out small-scale covert operations in Afghanistan, ostensibly in cooperation, although often in direct opposition, with I.S.I., the Pakistani intelligence agency. While the US was trying to quell extremists, a highly secretive and compartmentalized wing of I.S.I., known as "Directorate S", was covertly training, arming, and seeking to legitimize the Taliban, in order to enlarge Pakistan's sphere of influence. After 9/11, when 59 countries, led by the US, deployed troops or provided aid to Afghanistan in an effort to flush out the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the US was set on an invisible slow-motion collision course with Pakistan.
Today, we know that the war in Afghanistan would falter badly because of military hubris at the highest levels of the Pentagon, the drain on resources and provocation in the Muslim world caused by the US-led invasion of Iraq, and corruption. But, more than anything, as Coll makes painfully clear, the war in Afghanistan was doomed because of the failure of the United States to apprehend the motivations and intentions of I.S.I.'s "Directorate S". This was a swirling and shadowy struggle of historic proportions, which endured over a decade and across both the Bush and Obama administrations, involving multiple secret intelligence agencies, a litany of incongruous strategies and tactics, and dozens of players, including some of the most prominent military and political figures. A sprawling American tragedy, the war was an open clash of arms but also a covert melee of ideas, secrets, and subterranean violence.
Coll excavates this grand battle, which took place away from the gaze of the American public. With unsurpassed expertise, original research, and attention to detail, he brings to life a narrative at once vast and intricate, local and global, propulsive and painstaking. This is the definitive explanation of how America came to be so badly ensnared in an elaborate, factional, and seemingly interminable conflict in South Asia. Nothing less than a forensic examination of the personal and political forces that shape world history, Directorate S is a complete masterpiece of both investigative and narrative journalism.
©2017 Steve Coll (P)2017 Penguin Audio
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Gillian on 02-20-18

Slow At Times But Always Horrifying And Engaging

If you aren't horrified and heartsick after listening to Directorate S, you need to listen to it again. It might take that: I listened to it twice because, while extraordinarily well-researched, it packs soooo much of EVERYthing, every move, every plot, every person involved, it sometimes has a tendency to drag. But if you listen carefully, you might feel rage, horror, a certain sense of helpless dread.
Every person from the young wannabe terrorist, to the absolutely most soulless of operatives, from the politician with a bit of knowledge, to the politician who should know better, from the sociopaths of Pakistan, to the paranoid of Afghanistan is/are covered in great detail.
Steve Coll has pulled together a most fascinating work, and I wound up feeling bouts of shame, bouts of exasperation and anger.
While, as I said, it does drag a bit at first, it's always engaging, and if the subject matter is anything of interest to you, you'll be well-pleased with Coll's results.
You can't get any more in-depth than Directorate S. And you won't feel any more helpless than when you come to its conclusion. There's plenty of blame to go around; nobody gets a pass. And we as the American people are left holding a mixed bag of chaos...

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22 of 25 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Louis Macareo on 03-06-18

All the detail you could want

This was not a barn burner, but it was an extremely detailed account and for 27 hours the presentation is rather fluid and digestable. I can not imagine how much work it took to put this book together. Congratulations to the author on his accomplishment. Oh, and Afghanistan . . . goodness what a hot mess!

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Amazon Customer on 02-25-18

Thorough picture of the crazy conflict of our time

loved it till the end. hope policy makers heed the mistakes and blunders mentioned in the book.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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