Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile III

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Rate: 4/5


Medium: AudioBook


Overview (No Spoilers): Charlie Wilson’s War details the secret war that the CIA was waging in Afghanistan against the communist Soviet Union with billions of dollars allocated from Congress. Amazingly, this was all achieved without Presidential approval and largely unopposed both in Congress and in the media. This tale was delightfully unbelievable as the key players all possessed larger than life personalities and could have easily walked about of any fast paced, risk filled adventure novel. Imagine any other context where you would involve a well-connected Texas socialite, a vulgar CIA agent, a scandal ridden Texas politician, a Saudi Prince, the President of Pakistan, an Egyptian Defense Minister, and the Afghan mujahdeen. First you have Charlie Wilson, a charismatic, womanizing, substance abusing politician Texan politician that knows every loophole in the system to allow him to live well above his means and by all rights, the reader should detest. However, I couldn’t help but like this stubborn man upon hearing the many direct blunt quotes Crile included from the late Congressman. Despite his many faults he owned up to his transgressions, well some of them anyway, and once he had become enamored by a political cause he had an amazing ability to make it happen, regardless of the odds opposing him. Our second key player is the CIA Agent, Gust Avrakotos, who has a chip on his shoulder to a fault, especially regarding the fact that he doesn’t fit by the traditional CIA molds. He exacerbates this character flaw by  refusing to play by the rules, even to point of having a penchant for breaking them. Lending credence to the story and a testament to Crile’s investigative work, are the large number of interviews from various individuals and the subsequent direct quotes throughout Charlie Wilson’s War. Overall, Crile did an amazing job with this book, which not only enlightens the reader about this forgotten war that our CIA and Congress poured billions into, but offers a glimpse into the inner workings of both aforementioned establishments.


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