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

I did not read the volume that preceded this book, “Ghost Wars,” but that was no handicap in quickly getting into the story of Directorate S and its peculiar role in the , essentially, defeat of American goals in Afghanistan. Coll’s incredibly vivid descriptions of characters, events and competing political and ideological interests in Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States, as well as each nation’s diverse clandestine and traditional armed services lead to an understanding of the conflict and the circumstances of the region that make you feel like you may actually be understanding for the first time events you have watched for a decade and a half. The journalism in “Directorate S” is stunningly impressive – perhaps even a step ahead of Stanley Karnow’s classic history of America’s involvement in Vietnam. But what really pushed “Directorate S” into the stratosphere for me was the tender description in the epilogue of an American family’s reactions to the events involving the investigation, arrest and trial of the Afghan-turned-Taliban traitor who murdered their husband and father in a cold-blooded act of treachery described in the heart of the book. It really brought into individual human terms the impact of our actions in Afghanistan and the very personal impact of sweeping political intrigues