Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History

Version: Unabridged (Abridged version available here)
Author: George Crile
Narrator: Christopher Lane
Genres: History, Public Policy
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Published In: October 2007
# of Units: 17 CDs
Length: 16 hours, 39 minutes
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In a little over a decade, two events have transformed the world we live in: the collapse of the Soviet Union and the rise of militant Islam. Charlie Wilson's Waris the untold story behind the last battle of the Cold War and how it fueled the new jihad. George Crile tells how Charlie Wilson, a maverick congressman from east Texas, conspired with a rogue CIA operative to launch the biggest, meanest, and most successful covert operation in the Agency's history.

In the early 1980s, after a Houston socialite turned Wilson's attention to the ragged band of Afghan "freedom fighters" who continued, despite overwhelming odds, to fight the Soviet invaders, the congressman became passionate about their cause. At a time when Ronald Reagan faced a total cutoff of funding for the Contra war, Wilson, who sat on the all-powerful House Appropriations Committee, managed to procure hundreds of millions of dollars to support the mujahideen. The arms were secretly procured and distributed with the aid of an out-of-favor CIA operative, Gust Avrakotos, whose working-class Greek-American background made him an anomaly among the Ivy League world of American spies. Nicknamed "Dr. Dirty," the blue-collar James Bond was an aggressive agent who served on the front lines of the Cold War where he learned how to stretch the Agency's rules to the breaking point.

Avrakotos handpicked a staff of CIA outcasts to run his operation: "Hilly Billy," the logistics wizard who could open an unnumbered Swiss bank account for the U.S. government in twelve hours when others took months; Art Alper, the grandfatherly demolitions expert from the Technical Services Division who passed on his dark arts to the Afghans; Mike Vickers, the former Green Beret who created a systematic plan to turn a rabble of shepherds into an army of techno holy warriors.

Moving from the back rooms of the Capitol, to secret chambers at Langley, to arms-dealers conventions, to the Khyber Pass, Charlie Wilson's War is brilliantly reported and one of the most detailed and compulsively readable accounts ever written of the inside workings of the CIA.

Reviews (1)

Charlie Wilson\'s War

Written by nab6215 from Altoona, PA on July 2nd, 2019

  • Book Rating: 5/5

If you want to know why we were in Afghanistan, this is the only book you need to read. It can be slow at times but get through it. By the time you read the endnote, nothing from 9/11 on will surprise you.

Author Details

Author Details

Crile, George

George is a vetern producer for 60 Minutes. He lives in New York.