Ghost Wars

By Steve Coll,

Book cover of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001

Book description

Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize

The explosive, New York Times bestselling first-hand account of America's secret history in Afghanistan

Prize-winning journalist Steve Coll has spent years reporting from the Middle East, accessed previously classified government files and interviewed senior US officials and foreign spymasters. Here he gives the full…


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Why read it?

3 authors picked Ghost Wars as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Taking the story from the endgame of the Cold War to the dawn of the War on Terror is this extraordinary book on the rise of Islamist terrorism and the CIA’s efforts to defeat it prior to 9/11. Coll’s research, based on interviews with a vast range of senior officials, is dazzling, yet it never overwhelms a narrative that combines human interest and geopolitical sweep seamlessly. No less impressive is his accomplishment in documenting not just the U.S. and Afghan perspectives but the Saudi and Pakistani as well, all in the same painstaking detail. If this whets the appetite for…

From Hugh's list on history about the CIA.

The inside story of how the CIA, the Mujahadeen, and Pakistani intelligence orchestrated a civil war in Afghanistan, and sowed the seeds of Islamic militancy that would eventually lead to the attacks of September 11, 2001. Steve Coll’s history is a masterpiece of journalistic research and political storytelling. I love this book because Coll provides both the sweeping global scope of history and the minute, gritty details that bring the sights, stories, and blood of Afghanistan’s war into sharp focus for readers. For such a deep dive, the book is incredibly accessible and is a breeze to read.  As an…

From Daniel's list on the human toll of civil war.

Afghans tell me that the USA and Pakistan were responsible for spawning the Taliban. This is partly true. If you want the big picture as well as the covert details, this book is for you. The CIA, KGB, ISI, stinger missiles, Soviet Army, wealthy Arabs, Osama Bin Laden, drones, democracy, Islamic fundamentalism, unwanted Christmas Day visitors, and the one-eyed mullah; it’s all there.

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