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April 26, 2021


#Non-fiction Ghost Wars

by NancyElin

Finally finished…
Surprised how Steve Coll decided to end the book.
….bit of a disappointment.
Afterword is dated 2004…mentioning the hope of capturing Bin Laden.
Well, we know the answer to that!
Was this book worth ALL the listening hours (26 hrs 46 minutes) and a Pulitzer Prize.

  1. Extensive research but just so detailed it felt like a internal CIA report rather than a book that would engage the general public looking for some
    general historical knowledge.
  2. I found it very VERY difficult to stay engaged with it
  3. I also had a bit of trouble following along with who everyone was throughout most of the book, as major players drift in and out over the long span of time covered by the book.
  4. The savvy reader knows the US government doesn’t declassify anything until after 25 years so many events are still to current to have anything “secret” revealed.

Notes from

March 25, 2021 – page 38 5.34% “New book for bike rides!
Prologue: 1986 USA 2500 Stingers weapons were given away by CIA to Afghan rebels. Now CIA wants to buy them back! Feels like “close the barn door after the horse has bolted”!
ch 1: Harrowing description of the sacking US Embassy 1979 Islamabad. Gen Zia (Pakistan) left Americans to die…it took 5 hours to make a max 30 min drive to the embassy. Zia = #FairWeatherFriend”

March 30, 2021 – page 70 9.83% “Ch 3: 1981 Howard Hart is CIA station chief Pakistan…the CIA has NO strategy for this war (Afghanistan)…just money, mules and mortars. “You’re a young man; here’s your bag of money, go raise hell” was the way Hart understood his orders.”

March 31, 2021 – page 95 13.34% “Today we learn more about CIA Director William Casey (1981-1987).
Why did Casey fly secretly to Rome in a windowless C-141 black jet and be taken undercover to the Vatican? Hmmmm….”

April 4, 2021 – page 150 21.07% “1985….very boring chapter about CIA undercover activities in Afghanistan. Really, I cannot keep up with all the names: Massoud, Rabbani, Abdul, Mazar, mujahideen. CIA did send Buffalo sniper rifles to Massoud. You could shoot a target 1-2 km distance!”

April 11, 2021 – page 220 30.9% “Part II: just read about the plane crash that killed Pakistan’s Gen Zia August 1988. C130 aircraft performing as expected on a clear, cloudless day. Yet it had inexplicably fallen out of the sky. Usual suspects: KGB – CIA? Why was no effort made to unmask the perpetrators? Why was so much effort expended on suppressing incriminating evidence? Crash is still a mystery…Afghan….truly a Ghost War!”

April 18, 2021 – page 370 51.97% “If there is anything I learned in this book is that corporate interests (gas) were more important than political (USA) interests in Afghanistan.
1996 pipeline agreed upon, 2015 construction…operational gas line 2020. Because the line passes through 5 provinces that are Taliban strongholds…no wonder USA is probably striking a deal with them. We’re leaving as long as you guard and don’t interfere with the gas line.”

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 26 2021

    I was curious about this one and heard a lot about it! But I wondered if it would be kind of too dense for me…

    • Apr 26 2021

      Dense, boring with very few real tidbits of information.
      Searching now for my next nonfiction…any recommendations?
      Is Bloodlands really so good?

      • Apr 27 2021

        I loved Bloodlands! For being a straight history text it was so compelling. Just outstanding. I read a lot in that area of the world/history and there was still so much there that was new to me.

        Shame that this one was dense and boring!

  2. Apr 27 2021

    Sounds over-dense and dated, thanks for steering everyone else away from it!


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