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Charlie Wilson’s War (Book Review)

Charlie-wilson's-war-posterMy most recent reading was Charlie Wilson’s War by George Crile.  The book documents in tremendous detail how a powerful Congressman who worked wonders behind the scenes of Washington followed his deep desire to thwart Communist Russia in Afghanistan by creating the largest CIA operation to fund and arm the Mujahedeen using Pakistan as a go-between.

This real-life story has more twists and turns than a fictional spy novel could invent.  Charlie Wilson was a heavy user of alcohol and occasional drugs, chased women constantly, used his big stentorian Texas voice to out-shout and bully his opponents, while wielding tremendous financial power (and hence political power) as a leading figure on 3 high level Congressional committees. His frequent political junkets were organized around his global sightseeing and partying schedule, but he also made sure he kept in touch with his political allies such as President Zia of Pakistan, generals in Egypt, and government officials in Israel.

This book has so much detail on people and events that it might be a long read, but it provides a clear view into how our government works, and how strong personalities can bend the system to their own goals by breaking rules.  It leaves me with only one question:  Has anything in our government changed?  Can this happen again?  Is it happening again?

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Mark Bobb

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