WaltWayne, May 13, 2008 (view all comments by WaltWayne)
It has been a while but I did read the book. I just finished watching the movie and I like most people tend to pan movies of good books - -however - - NOT true in this case. I really enjoyed the movie! The dialoque was really crisp and smart and the movie really moved along. Yes it would have been better had it been twice as long but still a very entertaining flick. The major players were great and Gust Avrokotos the rogue CIA guy was fantastic! Yes, I will reread the book but don't bypass the movie - - got mine thru NETFLIX.
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crowyhead, February 4, 2008 (view all comments by crowyhead)
This is one of those nonfiction books that would strain credulity if it were published as fiction; one review I read of the book compared it to Tom Clancy crossed with Carl Hiassen, and that's fairly apt. Charlie Wilson was a House Rep who was mostly famous for getting himself in trouble with his drinking, drugs, and penchant for centerfold beauties. But in the early 80's, when he became aware of the plight of the Afghan rebels fighting the invading Soviets, he made it his personal mission to arm these freedom fighters. Working with (and at times against) the CIA, he made deals and acted above and beyond what any congressional representative should have the power to do.
The story has a very serious side, of course, not in the least because the Afghanis that Wilson and the CIA armed are the precise tribesmen who later allied themselevs with Osama bin Laden. But it's also an incredible ride and will have you laughing out loud at Wilson's sheer audacity. I haven't seen the movie based on this book, but frankly, the reviews look awful. Do yourself a favor and just pick up the book instead; I guarantee you won't regret it.
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Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of the Largest Covert Operation in History
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"Review A Day"
by Stephanie Zacharek, Salon.com,
"Crile, a producer at 60 Minutes, has hold of a story here that everyone else missed, and his elation at having a big scoop dovetails with the enthusiasm that Charlie Wilson brought to his cause — arming the Afghan rebels to defeat the invading Soviet army in the '80s. Crile has written an extraordinarily entertaining piece of reportage that has much to tell us about how the U.S. armed a group of people who are now using the weapons we provided them to kill us. A fiction writer would be hard-pressed to come up with a comparable tale of American shortsightedness, or one with more hairpin reversals and rich, comic irony." (read the entire Salon review)
by David Johnston, The New York Times,
"The result is a vivid narrative, though a reader may wonder how much of this story is true in exactly the way Crile presents it. Still, few people who remember Wilson's years in Washington would discount even the wildest tales."
by Thomas Lippman, The Washington Post,
"The stories George Crile tells in Charlie Wilson's War must be true — nobody could make them up. This is a rousing tale of jihad on the frontiers of the Cold War, infighting at the CIA and horse-trading in Congress, spiced by sex, booze, ambition and larger-than-life personalities. "
by Ken Auletta,
"An amazing tale, made all the more amazing because it was missed by the press. George Crile has written a book revealing the extraordinary details and intrigue of a secret war, and that alone would be a monumental achievement....all of this comes with a breathtaking cast of characters worthy of a LeCarre novel. Only it's all true. And just as vivid."
by Dan Rather,
"Americans often ask: 'Where have all the heroes gone?' Well a lot of them come roaring through in this tour de force of reporting and writing. Tom Clancy's fiction pales in comparison with the amazing, mesmerizing story told by George Crile. By resurrecting a missing chapter out of our recent past, Charlie Wilson's War provides us with the key to understanding the present."
by Kirkus Reviews,
"So, let?s see. We arm Afghan rebels to fight the Soviets. The Afghans drive the Russians out of their country. We ignore the Afghans. They stew for a few years and hook up with Osama bin Laden."
by Gerard DeGroot, Christian Science Monitor,
"A cross between Tom Clancy and Carl Hiassen, with the distinguishing feature that it's all apparently true....Throw in a middle-aged Texan belly dancer, an assortment of Congressional looinies, a few beauty queens, some ruthless Afghan rebels, and a murderous Pakistani dictator who only wants to be understood."
by Hold All,
Charlie Wilson's War was a publishing sensation and a New York Times, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times bestseller. In the early 1980s, a Houston socialite turned the attention of maverick Texas congressman Charlie Wilson to the ragged band of Afghan "freedom fighters" who continued, despite overwhelming odds, to fight the Soviet invaders. 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 help of an out-of-favor CIA operative, Gust Avrokotos, whose working-class Greek-American background made him an anomaly among the Ivy League world of American spies. Avrakotos handpicked a staff of CIA outcasts to run his operation and, with their help, continually stretched the Agency's rules to the breaking point. Moving from the back rooms of the Capitol, to secret chambers at Langley, to arms-dealers' conventions, to the Khyber Pass, this book presents an astonishing chapter of our recent past, and the key to understanding what helped trigger the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union and ultimately led to the emergence of a brand-new foe in the form of radical Islam.
A bestseller in hardcover, "Charlie Wilsons War" tells what became of the largest covert operation in history. Moving from the back rooms of the Capitol to arms-dealer conventions to the Khyber Pass, this is a compulsively readable account of the inside workings of the CIA.
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