Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 by Steve Coll Penguin $155 To what extent are the US and Saudi Arabia responsible for spawning their own nemesis, al-Qaeda? Steve Coll apportions no blame in this riveting and disturbing analysis of events leading up to September 11, 2001. He simply lays out an astonishing array of facts, interviews with senior US and Asian spymasters, front-line CIA agents and Afghan warlords, as well as previously classified documents. Coll, managing editor of the Washington Post, won a Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism in 1990, and he deserves another for this book. The scale of US and Saudi funding of Islamic rebellion during the 1980s and 90s beggars belief. In 1987, the US Congress approved US$630 million funding for Afghan rebels. The Saudi government matched the Americans dollar for dollar. Estimates of their total expenditure during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan range between US$6 billion and US$20 billion. The last quarter of the book outlines the hunt for Osama bin Laden, which by September 2001 had already been in full swing for years. One can only respect the survival abilities of the man, once the extent of efforts to track him down becomes clear.