Synopses & Reviews
"The finest historical narrative so far on the origins of al Qaeda" (New York Times Book Review
) now updated to include the 9/11 commission hearings.
Looming large in the minds of the American people since the devastation of September 11, 2001 and perplexing their political analysts, media, and elected leaders are two unsettling questions: To what extent did America's best intelligence analysts grasp the rising threat of Islamist radicalism? And, Who tried to stop bin Laden and why did they fail? Steve Coll, managing editor of the Washington Post, provides answers in an exhaustively researched account of U.S. involvement in the covert wars in Afghanistan that fueled Islamic militancy and gave rise to bin Laden's al Qaeda.
For nearly the past quarter century, while most Americans were unaware, Afghanistan has been the playing field for intense covert operations by U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies invisible wars that sowed the seeds of the September 11 attacks and that provide its context. From the Soviet invasion in 1979 through the summer of 2001, the CIA, KGB, Pakistan's IST, and Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Department all operated directly and secretly in Afghanistan. They primed Afghan factions with cash and weapons, secretly trained guerrilla forces, funded propaganda, and manipulated politics. In the midst of these struggles bin Laden conceived and then built his global organization.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Coll provides the only comprehensive account to date of the secret history of the CIA's role in Afghanistan, including its covert program against Soviet troops from 1979 to 1989, and examines 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. Based on extensive firsthand accounts, Ghost Wars is the inside story that goes well beyond anything previously published on U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, chronicling the roles of midlevel CIA officers, their Afghan allies, and such top spy masters as Bill Casey, Saudi Arabia's Prince Turki al Faisal, and George Tenet; heated debates within the American government; and the often poisonous, mistrustful relations between the CIA and foreign intelligence agencies.
"[O]bjective and terrific....Coll...has given us what is certainly the finest historical narrative so far on the origins of Al Qaeda....Ghost Wars provides fresh details and helps explain the motivations behind many crucial decisions." James Risen, The New York Times
"[L]ong overdue....[A] well-written, authoritative, high-altitude drama with a cast of few heroes, many villains, bags of cash and a tragic ending one that may not have been inevitable." James Bamford, The Washington Post
"[A] powerful book, impeccably reported....A strong lesson from this extraordinary account is that the rigidities and legal restraints of U.S. foreign policy-making...are deeply flawed and will fail us again unless they are changed." Newsday
"Ghost Wars helps put the cause and effect of Afghanistan into perspective, but it seems written more for the inside-the-Beltway crowd in Washington than for the reader who prefers a fast-moving story." San Antonio Express-News
"It is all quite dizzying, but also fascinating and important....Ghost Wars is not beach reading by any means, but those who have the patience to get through it will emerge well informed indeed." BookReporter
With this book, Coll establishes a reputation as large as that of his Post colleague Bob Woodward. (The Globe and Mail, Toronto) The CIA itself would be hard put to beat his grasp of global events... Deeply satisfying. (Ahmed Rashid, The New York Review of Books)
"Certainly the finest historical narrative so far on the origins of al Qaeda in the post-Soviet rubble of Afghanistan . . . Ghost Wars
provides fresh details and helps explain the motivations behind many crucial decisions."
-The New York Times Book Review
From Steve Coll, the managing editor of the Washington Post, comes this news-breaking account of the CIA's involvement in the covert wars in Afghanistan that fueled Islamic militancy and gave rise to bin Laden's al Quaeda. This New York Times bestseller is now updated to cover the 9/11 Commission hearings.
Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize
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.
About the Author
Steve Coll, winner of a 1990 Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism, has been managing editor of the Washington Post since 1998 and covered Afghanistan as the Post's South Asia bureau chief between 1989 and 1992. Coll is the author of four books, including On the Grand Trunk Road and The Taking of Getty Oil.
Table of Contents
List of Maps
Prologue: Accounts Receivable - September 1996
Part One: Blood Brothers - November 1979 to February 1989
1. andldquo;Weandrsquo;re Going to Die Here
2. andldquo;Lenin Taught Usandrdquo;
3. andldquo;Go Raise Hellandrdquo;
4. andldquo;I Loved Osamaandrdquo;
5. andldquo;Donandrsquo;t Make It Our Warandrdquo;
6. andldquo;Who Is This Massoud?andrdquo;
7. andldquo;The Terrorists Will Own the Worldandrdquo;
8. andldquo;Inshallah, You Will Know My Plansandrdquo;
9. andldquo;We Wonandrdquo;
Part Two: The One-Eyed Man Was King - March 1989 to December 1997
10. andldquo;Serious Risksandrdquo;
11. andldquo;A Rogue Elephantandrdquo;
12. andldquo;We Are in Dangerandrdquo;
13. andldquo;A Friend of Your Enemyandrdquo;
14. andldquo;Maintain a Prudent Distanceandrdquo;
15. andldquo;A New Generationandrdquo;
16. andldquo;Slowly, Slowly Sucked into Itandrdquo;
17. andldquo;Dangling the Carrotandrdquo;
18. andldquo;We Couldnandrsquo;t Indict Himandrdquo;
19. andldquo;Weandrsquo;re Keeping These Stingersandrdquo;
20. andldquo;Does America Need the CIA?andrdquo;
Part Three: The Distant Enemy - January 1998 to September 10, 2001
21. andldquo;You Are to Capture Him Aliveandrdquo;
22. andldquo;The Kingdomandrsquo;s Interestsandrdquo;
23. andldquo;We Are at Warandrdquo;
24. andldquo;Letandrsquo;s Just Blow the Thing Upandrdquo;
25. andldquo;The Manson Familyandrdquo;
26. andldquo;That Unit Disappearedandrdquo;
27. andldquo;You Crazy White Guysandrdquo;
28. andldquo;Is There Any Policy?andrdquo;
29. andldquo;Daring Me to Kill Themandrdquo;
30. andldquo;What Face Will Omar Show to God?andrdquo;
31. andldquo;Many Americans Are Going to Dieandrdquo;
32. andldquo;What an Unlucky Countryandrdquo;