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Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 2005
The explosive first-hand account of America's secret history in Afghanistan.
With the publication of Ghost Wars, Steve Coll became not only a Pulitzer Prize winner, but also the expert on the rise of the Taliban, the emergence of Bin Laden, and the secret efforts by CIA officers and their agents to capture or kill Bin Laden in Afghanistan after 1998.
©2011 Steve Coll (P)2011 Penguin
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Critic Reviews

" Ghost Wars is a complex study of intelligence operations and an invaluable resource for those seeking a nuanced understanding of how a small band of extremists rose to inflict incalculable damage on American soil." ( review)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Joe on 11-08-13

An Exceptional Accomplishment

Ghost Wars may prove to be the best book I read in 2013. It tells the story of the CIA's involvement in Afghanistan from the Soviet Invasion to the terror attacks in 2001. But that's not all it is. You will meet the directors of the CIA and see how their personalities influence the agency. You will learn about the Washington political climate under different presidencies and see how they cripple any potential to cure Afghanistan of its extremism. You will watch how the outcast younger son of a prominent family, named Osama bin Laden, sets up an empire in the ruined countryside.

The writing avoids analysis until the end, letting you examine events as they unfold with amazing clarity and detail. The narration is crisp and exciting without being overly-dramatized. When the wrap up finally comes it is stunning and insightful. This is an amazing book, filled with knowledge, rich storytelling, and thoughtfulness. You deserve to read it.

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19 of 20 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By DS on 03-06-13


Mistakes were made, by Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43. Bush 41's policies put the Taliban in charge of Afghanistan, Clinton kept them there and Bush 43 was distracted by a VP and a Condi who were uninformed and uninterested. We armed the "resistance" fighters and abandoned them when the "resistance" got rid of the Russians. We relied on biased, self-serving "intelligence" from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, both countries supported the Taliban. We gave millions to Pakistan, much of which was diverted to personal accounts, and succeeded in tipping the balance toward the military intelligence side and away from the civil executive/legislative side, destabilizing a nuclear power.

Were there good outcomes? Well, the Russian economy imploded, the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Republic disintegrated. Would the Wall have fallen anyway? Maybe. We'll never know.

Good news? The Cold War was over. Bad news? We entered the era of terrorism. We don't know how this era will end but, thanks to this book, we know how it began.

Painful, depressing great read.

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14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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