Into Tibet is the incredible story of a 1949-1950 American undercover expedition led by America's first atomic agent, Douglas S. Mackiernan -- a covert attempt to arm the Tibetans and to recognize Tibet's independence in the months before China invaded. It recounts a harrowing and unprecedented two-thousand-mile trek on foot and camel across China and the deserts of inner Asia. For the first time, Thomas Laird reveals how Mackiernan helped establish a covert intelligence pipeline from China to India; how he gathered atomic intelligence for the United States; how his partner Frank Bessac urged the Tibetan government to request covert U.S. military aid and then carried the signed request out of Lhasa; and, finally, how Dean Rusk and the CIA responded. Laird reveals how the clash between the State Department and the CIA, as well us unguided actions by field agents, hastened the Chinese invasion of Tibet. Commenting on American motivations during this operation for the first time, the Dalai Lama says bluntly, "The courage was not there." U.S. government actions were ultimately a kiss of death for Tibet and Mackiernan -- the first CIA agent ever killed during a covert operation. A gripping narrative of survival, courage, and intrigue among the nomads, princes, and warring armies of inner Asia, Into Tibet rewrites the accepted history behind the Chinese invasion of Tibet. "Laird does an exemplary job of investigating, reporting, and shaping the events and personalities that compose the tragic story." -- Bob Shacochis, author of The Immaculate Invasion
From the beginning of the modern era in 1500 CE, Western history has placed Europe at the center of worldwide political, economic, and cultural dynamism. But long before the European powers began to encroach upon the East, Asia itself was the locus of dozens of empires--some, like the Mongols, legendary. In this gorgeously illustrated, accessibly written volume, experts of art and history analyze the Asian imperial enterprise with an emphasis on the cultural and creative. In seven compelling chapters, plus an informative introduction and conclusion, these essays provide a decisive corrective to old myths about European dominance relative to Asia and show instead the polycentric nature of world power during the past five hundred years. Reaching across a vast swath of the continent, the book brings to life a thousand years of history, from the Khmer empire in Southeast Asia in the early ninth century to the end of Japan's Meiji Period in 1945. It shows how Asian kingdoms dominated global political geography and challenged the states of Europe rather than the reverse, and it provides fascinating insights into the characters, events, and influences that shaped them.
It's common knowledge that the U.S. armed the Afghans in their fight against the Soviet Union, but until now, the fact that this was possibly the biggest, meanest covert operation in history has been absent from press reports. In one of the most detailed descriptions of a CIA operation every written, the bizarre twists and turns of the full story are told in CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR. Veteran 60 Minutes producer George Crile explains how one Congressman was able to provide the CIA with hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the Afghan program, dwarfing the price tag for arming the Nicaraguan Contras that occurred at virtually the same time.The scope and nature of this campaign has still not registered in the consciousness of most Americans, Crile writes in the book's Epilogue. Nor is it understood that such secret undertakings inevitably have unforeseen and unintended consequences which, in this case, remain largely ignored. When Crile produced his first story about Texas Congressman Charlie Wilson for 60 Minutes in 1989, he too underestimated the vastness of the program and its consequences. It was a later trip to the Arab world with Wilson, the Wilson's princely reception, and the events of 9/11 that opened his eyes to the far bigger picture of CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR. Among the book's more startling revelations: - By the latter years of the 1980s the CIA was not just providing arms to a half million Afghans, it had taken 150,000 of them and transformed them into what it called a force of techno holy warriors. From today's perspective, Crile observes, that may seem more than a bit ill advised-particularly when you factor in the specialized training in urban warfare that the Agency sponsored to include the use of pipe bombs, bicycle bombs, car bombs, camel bombs, along with a host of other tactics to wreak havoc with the army of a modern superpower. - The United States continued to fund the Afghan rebels long after the withdrawal of the Soviet Union. Incredibly, the subsidies continued despite the fact that one of the most important mujahid leaders sided with Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War. - In addition to $200 million in aid from the U.S. and $200 million from Saudi Arabia, in 1991 and 1992 the rebels received Iraqi weapons captured by U.S. forces during the Gulf War. At the same time, the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union ceased to exist. The Cold War was effectively over but what began as a war against Communism was continuing to be funded. The question that has puzzled so many Americans: 'Why do they hate us?' is not so difficult to understand if you put yourself into the shoes of the Afghan veterans in the aftermath of the Soviet departure, Crile says. To them, the real superpower in their struggle was Allah. The United States eventually cut off its support in the 1990s. In the Afghan's minds, Allah did not. CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR is nothing short of a critical missing chapter in our political consciousness. Without a clear understanding of its impact, it may be impossible to comprehend the two world changing events that shook the United States on either side of the millennium: the sudden and mysterious collapse of the Soviet Union and the equally inexplicable appearance of a new global foe in the form of militant Islam. At its core, it tells of an unorthodox alliance-of a scandal-prone Texas Congressman named Charlie Wilson and an out-of-favor CIA operative named Gust Avrakotos-that armed and sustained the Afghan jihad and turned Afghanistan into the Soviet Union's Vietnam. The origins of this book go back to a time when the Afghans were viewed by most everyone in the U.S. government as freedom fighters and allies against a common foe, Crile writes in the Epilogue. In 1988, Crile produced a 60 Minutes profile of Wilson that he now realizes barely scratched the surface of this fascinating story. Later, while, accompanying Wilson on a trip to Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Afghanistan just prior to the first Gulf War, Crile was amazed at the princely reception accorded Wilson in the Arab world. The trip was just the beginning of a decade-long odyssey uncovering the many dimensions of the CIA's Afghan War, he recalls. In short order I realized that it had been anything but a typical CIA program. As incredible as anything in the pages of Tom Clancy or John le Carr , CHARLIE WILSON'S WAR is a gripping story of international intrigue, booze, drugs, sex, high society and arms deals. Between its covers, we meet: - The charismatic Congressman Charlie Wilson. While Ronald Reagan and William Casey were unable to persuade Congress to fund the Nicaraguan Contras, Wilson was procuring hundreds of millions of dollars to support his Afghan freedom fighters through back-room machinations that would have made even LBJ blush. A colorful man of many contradictions, he worked hard and played hard, earning the reputation as the wildest man in Congreeeeeess while representing an archconservative Bible-belt district in Texas. - The out-of-favor CIA operative, Gust Avrakotos, whose working-class Greek-American background made him an anomaly in the patrician world of American spies. Nicknamed Dr. Dirty, this blue collar James Bond was an aggressive agent who served on the front lines of the Cold War where he learned how to stretch the Agency's rules to the breaking point. - The eccentric staff of CIA outcasts hand-picked by Avrakotos to run the operation. Among them were Hilly Billy, the logistics wizard who could open an un-numbered Swiss bank account for the U.S. government in 12 hours when others took months; Art Alper, the devilish tinkerer from the Technical Services division who roamed the world creating such novelties as exploding typewriters and developed portable amplifiers that spread propaganda among the Soviet troops; and especially Mike Vickers, the former Green Beret so junior in status that he couldn't send his own cables. His m
When Charles de Gaulle learned that France's former colonies in Africa had chosen independence, the great general shrugged dismissively, "They are the dust of empire." But as Americans have learned, particles of dust from remote and seemingly medieval countries can, at great human and material cost, jam the gears of a superpower.In The Dust of Empire, Karl E. Meyer examines the present and past of the Asian heartland in a book that blends scholarship with reportage, providing fascinating detail about regions and peoples now of urgent concern to America: the five Central Asian republics, the Caspian and the Caucasus, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and long-dominant Russia. He provides the context for America's war on terrorism, for Washington's search for friends and allies in an Islamic world rife with extremism, and for the new politics of pipelines and human rights in an area richer in the former than the latter. He offers a rich and complicated tapestry of a region where empires have so often come to grief--a cautionary tale.
The Little Clay Cart is a Sanskrit play revolving around a romantic theme of the love of a high-born man for a courtesan. It contains dramatic developments involving a dynastic overthrow and contains realistic portrayals of a wide range of characters.
To travel the Silk Road, the greatest land route on earth, is to trace the passage not only of trade and armies but also of ideas, religions, and inventions. Making his way by local bus, truck, car, donkey cart, and camel, Colin Thubron covered some seven thousand miles in eight months--out of the heart of China into the mountains of Central Asia, across northern Afghanistan and the plains of Iran into Kurdish Turkey--and explored an ancient world in modern ferment.
A true tale of high adventure in the South Seas.
The tiny island of Run is an insignificant speck in the Indonesian archipelago. Just two miles long and half a mile wide, it is remote, tranquil, and, these days, largely ignored.
Yet 370 years ago, Run's harvest of nutmeg (a pound of which yielded a 3,200 percent profit by the time it arrived in England) turned it into the most lucrative of the Spice Islands, precipitating a battle between the all-powerful Dutch East India Company and the British Crown. The outcome of the fighting was one of the most spectacular deals in history: Britain ceded Run to Holland but in return was given Manhattan. This led not only to the birth of New York but also to the beginning of the British Empire.
Such a deal was due to the persistence of one man. Nathaniel Courthope and his small band of adventurers were sent to Run in October 1616, and for four years held off the massive Dutch navy. Nathaniel's Nutmeg centers on the remarkable showdown between Courthope and the Dutch Governor General Jan Coen, and the brutal fate of the mariners racing to Run-and the other corners of the globe-to reap the huge profits of the spice trade. Written with the flair of a historical sea novel but based on rigorous research, "Nathaniel's Nutmeg" is a brilliant adventure story by a writer who has been hailed as the "new Bruce Chatwin" ("Mail" on Sunday).