Steve Coll

presents

Directorate S:
The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan

This event includes a book signing

Date

Feb
20
Tuesday
February 20, 2018
7:00 PM

Location

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Tickets

This event is free; no tickets are required.

Harvard Book Store welcomes acclaimed journalist, New Yorker staff writer, and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism dean STEVE COLL—author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Ghost Wars—for a discussion of his latest book, Directorate S: The C.I.A. and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

About Directorate S

Prior to 9/11, the United States had been carrying out small-scale covert operations in Afghanistan, ostensibly in cooperation, although often in direct opposition, with I.S.I., the Pakistani intelligence agency. While the US was trying to quell extremists, a highly secretive and compartmentalized wing of I.S.I., known as "Directorate S," was covertly training, arming, and seeking to legitimize the Taliban, in order to enlarge Pakistan's sphere of influence. After 9/11, when fifty-nine countries, led by the U. S., deployed troops or provided aid to Afghanistan in an effort to flush out the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the U.S. was set on an invisible slow-motion collision course with Pakistan.

Today we know that the war in Afghanistan would falter badly because of military hubris at the highest levels of the Pentagon, the drain on resources and provocation in the Muslim world caused by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and corruption. But more than anything, as Coll makes painfully clear, the war in Afghanistan was doomed because of the failure of the United States to apprehend the motivations and intentions of I.S.I.'s "Directorate S". This was a swirling and shadowy struggle of historic proportions, which endured over a decade and across both the Bush and Obama administrations, involving multiple secret intelligence agencies, a litany of incongruous strategies and tactics, and dozens of players, including some of the most prominent military and political figures. A sprawling American tragedy, the war was an open clash of arms but also a covert melee of ideas, secrets, and subterranean violence. 

Coll excavates this grand battle, which took place away from the gaze of the American public. With unsurpassed expertise, original research, and attention to detail, he brings to life a narrative at once vast and intricate, local and global, propulsive and painstaking. 

This is the definitive explanation of how America came to be so badly ensnared in an elaborate, factional, and seemingly interminable conflict in South Asia. Nothing less than a forensic examination of the personal and political forces that shape world history, Directorate S is a complete masterpiece of both investigative and narrative journalism.

Praise

“Spellbinding . . . It does for America in Afghanistan what Michael Gordon and Tom Ricks did for the Iraq misadventure in Cobra II and Fiasco." —Evening Standard

“This sequel to Ghost Wars might well become the definitive account of the CIA and America’s secret wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan . . . In the pages of Directorate S, the sequel to Coll’s Pulitzer Prize–winning Ghost Wars, the story is delivered with a literary prowess that has been absent in previous western accounts of America’s longest-running war. The dance of blame, with the US swaying at one moment towards Pakistan and the next towards Afghanistan, is a choreography familiar to CIA chiefs, US presidents, and writers who have tackled the subject. Coll refuses to follow this tired tune, and the result is masterful.” —The Guardian

“Steve Coll’s Directorate S is the sequel to his magisterial Ghost Wars. Both books rest on a foundation of serious scholarship and Coll’s extraordinary access, to individual CIA officers mostly, but also to many others. These notably included members of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, where Directorate S was the name given to the branch of the agency 'devoted to secret operations in support of the Taliban, Kashmiri guerrillas, and other violent Islamic radicals.' Every assertion is carefully sourced and checked. This book is in the finest traditions of American investigative journalism. Coll is the thinking man’s Michael Wolff.” —Sherard Cowper- Coles, Times of London

Steve Coll
Steve Coll

Steve Coll

Steve Coll is the author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Ghost Wars and the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University. From 2007 to 2013 he was president of the New America Foundation, a public policy institute in Washington, D.C. He is a staff writer for The New Yorker and previously worked for twenty years at The Washington Post, where he received a Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism in 1990. He is the author of seven other books, including On the Grand Trunk RoadThe Bin LadensPrivate Empire, and Directorate S.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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