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A Colorful, Consequential Texan

“The Soviets are not so much in danger from the West, but from the soft underbelly of its southern boarders.”  I’m paraphrasing something that Professor Theofanis Stavrou said roughly 30 years ago when I was a student in his 18th, 19th Century Russian history and 20th Century Soviet history classes.  He was suggesting something incomprehensible to me at that time – namely that the economic, ideological and military might of the United States was less of a threat to the Soviets than the effect of the largely Islamic countries chained across its southern boarder.  Dr. Stavrou, by the way, was the most brilliant mind and most electric lecturer of my entire college career.

At the time Stavrou was enlightening me, a Congressman from Lufkin, TX, was leading the largest and most successful covert operation in U.S. history – along part of that southern border, namely Afghanistan.  That Congressman was Charlie Wilson, the 12 term Texas Democrat, whom the Dallas Morning News described as a “colorful, consequential Texan.”  If the name rings a bell, it’s probably because you’ve at least heard of the movie “Charlie Wilson’s War” starring Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and the fantastic Philip Seymour Hoffman.

Charlie Wilson died Wednesday at the age of 76.

Preceding him in death, in 2006 was George Crile. Crile was a 25 year veteran of CBS News and 60 Minutes as a producer and correspondent.  Crile wrote the book Charlie Wilson’s War in 2003.  If you tossed Playboy Magazine, Tom Clancy and a history of Afghanistan into a blender – you’d get Charlie Wilson’s War – political intrigue, playboy lifestyle, arms dealers, Soviet villains, inside the Beltway backstabbing – it has it all.  Once you pick it up, it will be hard to put down. And the movie just doesn’t do it justice.

RIP Charlie Wilson.

5 Responses to A Colorful, Consequential Texan

  1. [...] of Charlie Wilson’s War, Tom Peters mentions it in The Little Big Things.  This is a collection of “163 ways to pursue [...]

  2. Karen Bice says:

    I want to read this book, Dawn. I wasn’t much into politics or history during the time period of these covert operations. Charlie Wilson sounds like a few other Texan politicians we’ve had. The pic is one I haven’t seen before. He sure does resemble Johnny Cash. :)

    • Dawn says:

      You won’t regret the read. It was a very different time then and Charlie Wilson…well let’s just say I’d probably like him in spite of him. The book reads like fiction. And what he accomplished was staggering. In the book, he acknowledges that the efforts fell short. A nice follow-up is Tom Peter’s The Little Big Things – he has a section on how the Charlie Wilson “methodology” is something we can all take note of. Thank you for your comment. And yes, he does look like Johnny Cash (who I also like) in that picture. :-)

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