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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Robert L. Grenier Narrator: Joe Barrett Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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The “first” Afghan War, the CIA’s war in response to 9/11, was approved by President Bush and directed by the author, Robert Grenier, the CIA station chief in Islamabad. Forging separate alliances with warlords, Taliban dissidents, and Pakistani intelligence, Grenier defeated the Taliban and put Hamid Karzai in power in eighty-eight days. Later, as head of CIA counterterrorism, he watches as bureaucratic dysfunction in the CIA, Pentagon, and the White House lead to failure in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In his gripping narrative we meet General Tommy Franks, who bridles at CIA control of “his” war; General “Jafar Amin,” a gruff Pakistani intelligence officer who saves Grenier from committing career suicide; Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s brilliant ambassador to the US, who tries to warn her government of the al-Qaeda threat; “Mark,” the CIA operator who guides Gul Agha Shirzai to bloody victory over the Taliban; General Kayani, a cautious man who will become the most powerful man in Pakistan, struggling with Grenier’s demands while trying to protect his country; and Hamid Karzai, the puzzling anti-Taliban insurgent, a man of courage, petulance, and vacillating moods.

Grenier’s enemies out in front prove only slightly more lethal than the ones behind his own lines. This first war is won despite Washington bureaucrats who divert resources, deny military support, and try to undermine the only Afghan allies capable of winning.

Later, as Grenier directed the CIA’s role in the Iraq War, he watched the initial victory squandered. His last command was of CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, as Bush-era terrorism policies were being repudiated, as the Taliban reemerged in Afghanistan, and as Pakistan descended into fratricidal violence.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “A fascinating account of our early post-9/11 days in Afghanistan by one of the CIA’s key figures in the drama. A sobering, but must-read primer for the complexities of these tumultuous times.”

    General Stanley McChrystal, US Army (ret.), former commander of NATO and US forces in Afghanistan

  • 88 Days to Kandahar drips with tension and insight. Bob Grenier is the role model for members of the National Clandestine Service. He captures the highs and lows of the spy business with unwavering accuracy. His portrayal of events immediately preceding and following 9/11 is illuminating and gritty. Members of the CIA station in Islamabad faced numerous enemies—Al Qaida, the Taliban, extremists in Pakistan, and our own bureaucracy with its jealousies and rivalries.”

    Richard Armitage, former US Secretary Deputy of State

  • “Most often history comes to us through a distant and detached analyst who tries to make sense of an event they did not experience. Here Bob Grenier, the ultimate insider, opens a window of insight into a pivotal time in our own historical consciousness. It is a gripping narrative.”

    John J. Hamre, president and CEO, Center for Strategic and International Studies, former deputy secretary of defense

  • “Offers unparalleled insight into the American campaign in Afghanistan with a frank, even-handed assessment of the initial military effort to topple the Taliban… His conclusions—many of which run counter to conventional wisdom—are logical and amply demonstrated.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “If you want an insider’s account of the first American-Afghan War, you can’t do better than this…Important reading to understand where we are today, with lots of keen portraits included.”

    Library Journal

  • “Former CIA officer Grenier delivers an action-packed tale, rich in implication, of the post-9/11 race to unseat the Taliban and rout al-Qaeda in Afghanistan…Apart from his taut, well-written account of action on the ground, its heroes mostly gnarly Special Forces troops and spooks, CIA watchers will be fascinated by Grenier’s look at the twisted, surprisingly nasty politics within the intelligence community in the age of Bush/Cheney and their appointees, squabbling that makes Afghanistan look tame. A catalog of occasional victories and constant missteps that is eye-opening, illuminating, and maddening.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “After more than a decade, the war in Afghanistan is fizzling to an ignominious end, leaving tens of thousands of dead and wounded, a trillion wasted dollars, and a resurgent Taliban poised to return to power. Now Robert Grenier, the CIA’s man in Pakistan and Afghanistan at 9/11, gives a dramatic spy’s-eye view of how it all began. In captivating detail, Grenier describes his plans for the original limited invasion, his secret negotiations with warlords, how the war might have been prevented, and how ‘colossal overreach’ and the decision ‘that failure was not an option’ led to tragic defeat in America’s longest war.”

    James Bamford, bestselling author of The Shadow Factory

  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
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About the Author

Robert L. Grenier had a much-decorated twenty-seven-year career in the CIA’s National Clandestine Service. A renowned Middle East expert, he has been deputy national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia. Grenier organized the CIA’s counterproliferation division and headed the agency’s basic-training facility, “the Farm.” He was the CIA’s Islamabad station chief from 1999 to 2002, and afterwards became director of the agency’s Counterterrorism Center, responsible for all CIA counterterrorism operations. Currently, Grenier is chairman of ERG Partners, a consulting firm to business in the intelligence and security sector.