Charlie Wilson’s Last War
I was sitting here in Austin working away this afternoon, catching up on some email and trolling the news, when the headline hit my desk about former Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson’s death in Lufkin, Texas earlier today.
I was immediately saddened.
Charlie Wilson was a larger-than-life character, but he was also a great American and a great Texan who, through sheer doggedness and determination, helped bolster the mujahideen and overthrow the Soviet Union in the U.S./Soviet proxy war in Afghanistan in the mid-to-late 1980s.
You can read Wilson’s obituary in The New York Times here.
But what you really ought to do is read his book, Charlie Wilson’s War, which Wilson co-authored with writer George Crile.
I had an opportunity to see Wilson speak about his experience arming the mujahideen and helping them overthrow the Soviets at the Texas Book Festival here in Austin earlier in the decade when the book came out, and was simply stunned by the account I read.
Though the movie, made several years later, starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts, was quite entertaining, the details of Wilson’s adventures and efforts just can’t be done justice, even with that great cast.
You have to read the book to believe Wilson’s experiences as he worked to drive and manipulate the levers of Congress to help arm and provide the support necessary to help overthrow the Soviets, which paved the way to the later dissolution of the U.S.S.R.
My best thoughts and prayers go out to Wilson’s family. He was 76.