GARY C. SCHROEN has served in the CIA for thirty-five years, much of his career focusing on the Middle East, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. His honors include the Intelligence Cross, the highest award given by the CIA. He lives in Reno, Nevada, with his wife, Betsy.
Just days from retirement, Schroen, a former CIA station chief in Pakistan, was tapped to lead the effort to establish contact with the Northern Alliance in the days following 9/11; the 35-year CIA veteran commanded the first American team on the ground in Afghanistan. At the proverbial tip of the spear, the team slipped into the country and made contact with the Northern Alliance (a loose confederation of Afghan warlords that had been fighting the Taliban government and their al-Qaeda allies), secured their cooperation and set the stage for the deployment of Special Forces teams into Afghanistan. Schroen tells the story crisply and with intimate detail, taking readers on a journey that lurches from harrowing through exhilarating to frustrating-particularly in the realm of communications. "Sitting in the Panjshir Valley," the author glumly concludes, "I seemed to be shouting down a deep, dark hole" at brass thousands of miles away. Events eventually outran the policymakers, however, when a Northern Alliance general finally lost his patience and announced to his CIA contact, "I am going into Kabul regardless of what your NSC decides." Schroen delivers what he advertises: a powerful account that takes the reader inside war councils and 19th-century- style cavalry charges in the months just after 9/11. (May 31) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Advance praise for First In
"A real-life ground-truth account of CIA human intelligence
operations that were incredibly successful. The country owes Gary
and his comrades, who almost single-handedly won the first phase of
the war in Afghanistan. Told with the nitty-gritty detail by the
leader who was there-real and compelling."
-Bob Woodward, author of Bush at War and Plan of Attack "First In adds yet another enthralling chapter to the endless martial history of Afghanistan. My old colleague Gary Schroen tells his forceful story with the sharpened senses that come only from years of living in the long shadows of the Khyber Pass. You can almost smell the cordite and the chapattis! A terrific yarn about a sad and storied land."
-Milt Bearden, author of The Black Tulip and co-author of The Main Enemy "I have read books by army officers who fought in wars past, but never one so true and thorough from a frontline intelligence officer, especially one involved in such an important episode in American history. This is really a grand achievement."
-Steve Coll, author of Ghost Wars