Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Five of the best history books about the CIA

Hugh Wilford is a professor of history at California State University, Long Beach, and author of four books, including America's Great Game: The CIA's Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East and The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America. He lives in Long Beach, California.

[The Page 99 Test: America's Great Game]

At Shepherd Wilford tagged five of the best history books about the CIA, including:
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 by Steve Coll

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 more of the same, Coll’s Directorate S resumes his account of the intelligence wars in Afghanistan, providing necessary background to understanding the failure of the U.S. occupation there.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Ghost Wars is among Town & Country's eleven best 9/11 books and Jason Burke's top ten books on Muslim extremism.

--Marshal Zeringue