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  • Lance Mannion
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Mike Schilling

like Arthur's foster father Sir Ector, who saw Arthur as a threat to the future glory of his own son

In my favorite version, T. H. White's The Sword in the Stone (not the Disney abomination), Ector is a good father to his foster son. Wart loves both Ector and his older brother Kay, and wants nothing more than to become Kay's squire. After the sword and stone business, what with his father and brother both kneeling to him, pledging him their service, and calling him "my liege" instead of "Wart", Arthur realizes that his childhood has ended and his life has changed forever.

And he cries inconsolably.


Lance, have you read the book Legacy of Ashes? If not, you should-very revealing of the CIA (and American history the last 60 years more generally).


I really, really miss Molly Ivins.


That's a really interesting take. I've yet to read the book. One of a long list to tackle. I wrote two posts in the past month on the film and the history behind it, though - an earlier version of the script I read mentioned bin Laden, for example. Anyway, interesting stuff on Avrakotos.

Chris the Cop

I finished the book about 10 days ago - went to see the movie but it was sold out so we saw the National Treasure sequel instead (C-, compared to the original). I think by the end, Lance, you'll have a full portrait of Wilson in all his complexities and contradictions: a self-destrustive social liberal who couldn't keep his zipper shut but who recognized just how murderous and monstrous Soviet Communism had been and was at that time. This was not, incidentally, an unheard-of viewpoint of mainstream Democrats in the pre-McGovern 50s and 60s.

I disageee with some protions of your conclusions on Avrakotos,. but I'll give you a chance to either amend or affirm them of him once you finish the book.(Big of me) I just found the whole tale-warts and all-absolutely astounding. The description of Congressional infighting and horse-trading was fascinating and rang completely true. Afterwards, I couldn't disagree with Crile's contention that the operation really was "the greatest CIA operation in history."


Charlie Wilson's War, the movie and the book, are rousing good tales but provide maybe 10% of the full story on Afghanistan. Steve Coll's Ghost Wars is a dense, comprehensive tale about Afghanistan, Pakistan, the USSR, Bin Laden, the CIA, ISI, and a multitude of people on all sides who stumbled or connived their way into the disaster we have today. Coll offers a more measured take on Wilson and his adventures and how they fit into the greater picture of the fight against the Russians. Ghost Wars begins and ends on Sept. 10, 2001, for reasons you'll understand if you make it to the end.


That Molly Ivins is dead and a lot of people I'm feeling too charitable to name are alive and have big megaphones is just wrong.

Kit Stolz

I miss Molly Ivins, but nonetheless found it easy to root against Wilson and Avrakotos. Sure, they helped defeat a Soviet incursion into Afghanistan, but they also empowered and armed to the teeth a bunch of warlords and religious zealots totally opposed to the 20th century. This is a good thing?

Are we so quick to forget the past that we cannot even connect the dots between the Wilson, the rise of the Taliban, and 9/11? I'm sorry, but I guess I'm just not enough of a cynic to get a lot of laughs out of that.


Extremely well written and compelling analysis of not just a few historical characters, but a study in human nature as well. What you wrote here about Avrakotos could apply to my family, my brother especially, whose actions are often questionable but whose intent is always honorable. This ethic was not only taught by my parents, but by the teachers of our time who taught us always to question authority, challenge the establishment, and make decisions for ourselves rather than blindly follow what we were told. Is that romantic? Perhaps. Is that common? I think so. Is that what lies at the heart of most Americans? Most definitely.

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