Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times

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Charlie Wilson's War: The Extraordinary Story of How the Wildest Man in Congress and a Rogue CIA Agent Changed the History of Our Times

Author: George Crile III
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Copyright: 2003
Pages: 560
Cover Price: $ 16.00

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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 War is 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 roque 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.

Background Information

The Cold War was the worldwide conflict between the western democracies and Communist states, particularly the USSR. The Central Intelligence Agency succeeded the Office of Strategic Services after World War II as the country's espionage service. Ronald Reagan launched the United States into a military buildup contest with the Soviet Union that the Russians ultimately couldn't sustain. The Ivy League is a name given to an athletic conference formed of eight of the oldest and most prestigious colleges in the United States. Afghanistan was invaded in 2001 as a result of the refusal of its Taliban government to reject Osama Bin Laden.