The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America's War in Afghanistan
General Stanley McChrystal, the innovative, forward-thinking commanding general of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, was living large. He was better known to some as Big Stan, M4, Stan, and his loyal staff liked to call him a "rock star." During a spring 2010 trip across Europe to garner additional allied help for the war effort, McChrystal was accompanied by journalist Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone. For days, Hastings looked on as McChrystal and his staff let off steam, partying and openly bashing the Obama administration for what they saw as a lack of leadership. When Hastings's piece appeared a few months later, it set off a political firestorm: McChrystal was ordered to Washington, where he was fired unceremoniously.
In The Operators, Hastings picks up where his Rolling Stone coup ended. He gives us a shocking behind-the-scenes portrait of our military commanders, their high-stakes maneuvers and often bitter bureaucratic infighting. Hastings takes us on patrol missions in the Afghan hinterlands, to late-night bull sessions of senior military advisors, to hotel bars where spies and expensive hookers participate in nation-building gone awry. And as he weighs the merits and failings of old-school generals and the so-called COINdinistas-the counterintelligence experts-Hastings draws back the curtain on a hellish complexity and, he fears, an unwinnable war.
-Bob Drogin, Los Angeles Times
"Ordinarily, I would urge as many people as possible to buy the book of someone like Michael Hastings solely in order to support the kind of journalism he does: the more successful his book is, the more it bolsters this journalistic approach and the more of a repudiation it is to the power-serving reporters who attacked him. But this book is very worthwhile in its own right. The Afghanistan War is now more than ten years old with no end in sight, and this is one of the most eye-opening accounts provided yet about why it has dragged on, from one of the bravest and most intrepid journalists who has covered it."
-Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com
"Hastings' astute war memoir is pitch-perfect in demonstrating the challenges that all diligent journalists face....The author's frank discussion of these subtler forms of coercion, continuously employed to undermine accurate reporting, is undoubtedly courageous....As the situation in Afghanistan grows increasingly muddy, the author's disciplined adherence to solid journalistic practices and his acute eye for sharp scene setting makes much of the chaos comprehensible. Hastings has definitely taken up the traditional banner of the intrepid war correspondent, but he's simultaneously shot it through with iconoclastic holes; the effect is illuminating on many levels. An exciting and enlightening exposť of the war in Afghanistan, the dangers of concentrated power and the public's need to know."
"The life of a general is something to see, especially when it's Stanley McChrystal, America's four-star, rock star commander, at the height of his power and panache in Afghanistan. It's a hard story to get, and hard to tell it well, but in the hands of Michael Hastings, it's a world-class job of reporting and a joy to read."
-Richard Ben Cramer, author of What it Takes and Joe DiMaggio
"The most impact-laden story of the year...written by a perfect specimen of the new breed of journalist-commentator."
-Barrett Brown, Vanity Fair
"An impressive feat of journalism by a Washington outsider who seemed to know more about what was going on in Washington than most insiders did."
-Frank Rich, New York Times
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