What is the summary for Charlie Wilson's War?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Well, we can learn a lot just from the full title:  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. That title certainly does a lot for introducing us to the plot of this novel that stemmed from Crile's extensive research on the Afghan War.

This novel is about how the United States of America actually funded the first and only modern success in jihad.  The US's CIA agency had a covert war in Afghanistan that supposedly gave Russia their own version of Vietnam. 

The scope and nature of this campaign has still not registered in the consciousness of most Americans. ... Nor is it understood that such secret undertakings inevitably have unforeseen and unintended consequences which, in this case, remain largely ignored.

In fact, Afghanistan was secretly fighting the Soviet Union. The United States' support for Afghanistan took place through Pakistan and ended up causing yet another jihad this time against the West.  The CIA was not only providing weapons to the Afghans in the 1980s, but was encouraging them as holy warriors towards the communists in the Soviet Union.  Even after Russia retreated and the Soviet Union fell with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the CIA kept up their funds, even though some of the Afghans began supporting Hussein.

Suddenly, the United States cut off all support which caused a resentment that began jihad against Americans.  Then it truly became a "War" for Charlie Wilson.  The main character in the book, Charlie Wilson was a congressman during the Ronald Reagan administration that kept up a fund for the Afghans now deemed "freedom fighters," but this was only through secret negotiations. 

This book, then, deals with the "real" United States government, and not the one that is told to us in textbooks.  Secret plots of the CIA are revealed as well as the real reason behind the battle between the East vs. West.

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