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STORM ON THE HORIZON

KHAFJI--THE BATTLE THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF THE GULF WAR

Lucid and well-written; a worthy companion to Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead (Mar. 2003).

A memorable study of a transformative battle, now largely “condemned to the dustbin of history.”

Former Marine officer and debut author Morris, who entered the service shortly after Gulf War I ended, offers a vivid account of the Battle of Khafji, when, in a scarcely imaginable act of hubris, Saddam Hussein sent three armored and mechanized army divisions into Saudi Arabia. The battle, which began nearly a month before Operation Desert Storm sent Americans into Iraq, lasted only three days. Yet it afforded plenty of opportunities for the fog of war to enshroud American forces; no contingency plan having been made for such an invasion, for instance, air traffic controllers did not immediately dispatch planes to relieve the coastal sector’s American and Arab Coalition defenders, so that “the greatest air force in the history of warfare was sitting idle while Marines battled Iraqi main battle tanks with rifles.” Once the communications snafus were cleared up, American planes did take to the skies—and quickly inflicted heavy losses on their own men. At the same time, American units that had been caught unaware had to avoid being cut to pieces in the crossfire between their comrades and allies and the oncoming Iraqi forces. All in a day’s work, Morris remarks: “The gods of war roll the dice, and the dumb grunts in the middle of it get to sort it out.” The battle soon turned, and, writes Morris, “American forces and their allies saw up close and for the first time the staggering psychological impact of modern precision-guided munitions upon an outmoded Third World army.” Yet the American command failed to learn the obvious lessons from Khafji—namely, that the Iraqis were less tough and less motivated than had been assumed. Had the generals done so, Morris suggests, they might have been emboldened to crush the vaunted Republican Guards the first time around “and thus taken away Saddam’s main instrument for survival,” which presumably would have made Gulf War II unnecessary.

Lucid and well-written; a worthy companion to Anthony Swofford’s Jarhead (Mar. 2003).

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2004

ISBN: 0-7432-3557-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2003

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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