Charlie Wilson's War

Book Review



Charlie Wilson's War


George Crile


Atlantic Monthly Press,  New York, NY



Reviewed By:

Frank Fogg

Review Date:

May, 2003



Charlie Wilson's War tells the true  story of CIA involvement in Afghanistan during the 1980's. This is a hardcover  book of 550 pages.

Get more information about Charlie Wilson's War at amazon.comBy the summer of 1980, the Afghan freedom fighters were beaten back by the onslaught  of an invading Soviet army. Waves of refugees began pouring out of the country  in neighboring Pakistan as entire villages were leveled in combat. A secret presidential finding by President Jimmy Carter ordered that a trickle of military  support would be supplied to the Afghan fighters by the CIA. This small operation  was to increase in scope to eventually become the largest covert involvement in the history of the United States.

A small number of people controlled the destiny of the mujahideen. Foremost, there was Charlie Wilson, a Texas congressman. As he investigated the fighting first-hand, he began to feel that the United States should aid the freedom fighters  to a much larger extent than what was being provided by the CIA. Of special concern to Wilson was the inability of the Afghan fighters to shoot down the Russian Hind, a heavily armored helicopter. His goal became to equip the resistance army with modern weapons including assault rifles, mortars, and anti-aircraft  guns.

As George Crile tells this tale, he introduces all of the powerful players that  get wrapped up in Wilson's plans throughout the world. He shows that using Saudi  and U.S. financing, Wilson and the CIA began purchasing Russian style armaments that were then shipped to Pakistan to be distributed to the mujahideen. Approving  and administering the distribution was President Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan while armaments were supplied by a number of countries including Egypt, Switzerland, and Israel. Crile demonstrates that Charlie Wilson was the glue that kept the  entire supply operation going, providing the necessary political push whenever  a crisis arose.

Anybody that enjoys real life spy tales will find this non-fiction book every  bit as exciting as any action thriller. It provides an interesting and detailed  glimpse of how the United States government functions and clearly shows how  a few individuals altered the course of history. If one wants to understand the relationship of the Afghanistan of today to the United States, there is  perhaps no better source than this brief history.

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