Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan


Resuming the narrative of his Pulitzer Prize-winning Ghost Wars, bestselling author Steve Coll tells for the first time the epic and enthralling story of America's intelligence, military, and diplomatic efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 9/11

Prior to 9/11, the United States had been carrying out small-scale covert operations in Afghanistan, ostensibly in cooperation, although often in direct opposition, with I.S.I., the Pakistani intelligence agency. While the US was trying to quell extremists, a highly secretive and compartmentalized wing of I.S.I., known as "Directorate S," was covertly training, arming, and seeking to legitimize the Taliban, in order to enlarge Pakistan's sphere of influence. After 9/11, when fifty-nine countries, led by the U. S., deployed troops or provided aid to Afghanistan in an effort to flush out the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the U.S. was set on an invisible slow-motion collision course with Pakistan.

Today we know that the war in Afghanistan would falter badly because of military hubris at the highest levels of the Pentagon, the drain on resources and provocation in the Muslim world caused by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and corruption. But more than anything, as Coll makes painfully clear, the war in Afghanistan was doomed because of the failure of the United States to apprehend the motivations and intentions of I.S.I.'s "Directorate S". This was a swirling and shadowy struggle of historic proportions, which endured over a decade and across both the Bush and Obama administrations, involving multiple secret intelligence agencies, a litany of incongruous strategies and tactics, and dozens of players, including some of the most prominent military and political figures. A sprawling American tragedy, the war was an open clash of arms but also a covert melee of ideas, secrets, and subterranean violence.

Coll excavates this grand battle, which took place away from the gaze of the American public. With unsurpassed expertise, original research, and attention to detail, he brings to life a narrative at once vast and intricate, local and global, propulsive and painstaking.

This is the definitive explanation of how America came to be so badly ensnared in an elaborate, factional, and seemingly interminable conflict in South Asia. Nothing less than a forensic examination of the personal and political forces that shape world history, Directorate S is a complete masterpiece of both investigative and narrative journalism.

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    Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan Reviews

  • Murtaza

    Reading Ghost Wars many years ago provided a great background education on the history of the U.S. War on Terror. This book is billed as a continuation of that history, focused primarily on the confli...

  • Steven Z.

    In 2004 Steve Coll earned his second Pulitzer Prize for GHOST WARS: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE CIA, AFGHANISTAN AND BIN LADEN, FROM THE SOVIET INVASION TO SEPTEMBER 10, 2001. The book provided a reliab...

  • Stephen Yoder

    Wow. The scope of this book is simply impressive. It covers 15 years, several nations, a wide scope of characters, many government agencies, leaders that come & go, and so many covert actions from all...

  • Karen

    Long and detailed, but a fascinating read. ...

  • Bettie?

    Why is US still in Afghanistan, Pakistan...

  • Adil Ehsan

    Very well written and really shed a light on the difficult tri-patriate of Afghan-US-Pak relations, though its still 60% US perspective/history, 30% Afgan and only 10% Pakistan despite the title whcih...

  • Miles Kwiatek

    Directorate S is a book, yes, but if I were to try and find a more accurate word to describe it, I'd probably have to settle on "tome". It's extremely long, very detailed (with a five-page dramatis pe...

  • Khalid Khan

    I was really interested in this book when I looked at the title - Directorate S. This book would reveal how Directorate S in Pakistan's ISI managed to undermine the whole Afghan war with a fraction of...

  • Ron Smith

    In the second half of Steve Coll's excellent reportage on America's Afghanistan entanglement, he begins to interweave journal entries from a second lieutenant. After the young American arrives in coun...

  • Mubeen Irfan

    This is a sequel to Ghost Wars but can be read even without reading Ghost Wars. Still, I strongly recommend to anyone who hasn't read Ghost Wars to go back and read it before starting this one. This b...