TO DIE IN BABYLON by Harold Livingston


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 The author of Touch the Sky (1991) and Ride a Tiger (1987) takes a well-balanced and rather somber look at the Gulf War through Iraqi and American eyes. True to the complexities of Desert Storm, Livingston sensibly assembles a small cast of realistically flawed men and women from both sides of the Gulf. For the Americans, there are Marine Air Force flyer Nick Harmon and his old flame Elaine Mason, a helicopter pilot whose reserve unit has been activated for the duration. The Iraqis are Major Adnan Dulaimi and his fiancÇe Hana Badran, a medical student. Lieutenant Colonel Harmon, something of a hothead, has gotten himself into early unauthorized action, shooting down an Iraqi MiG before the game starts in order to save his rash young wingman. His experience with the enemy makes him interesting to the intelligence types back home, particularly to creepy Frank Kowalski, a meddler with strong anti-Israeli leanings. Kowalski and Harmon are sent to deal with Israel's pesky plans for independent action, and Harmon winds up on a raid in enemy territory as scary as his worst nightmares about Vietnam. In Iraq, Major Dulaimi finds himself at the center of things, attending staff meetings where nobody will tell Saddam the truth about US strength, finding it wiser to listen to the leader's hyperbolic ravings and to hope for the best. Working both sides of the border is glamorous World Cable Network correspondent Chris Campbell, angling for a one-on-one with Saddam and willing go one-on-one with anyone to get it. She finds Harmon and Dulaimi rather attractive. Casualties among the protagonists, when the war finally comes, are high. A cut above the usual military thriller. Livingston has taken the time to sort out the politics, giving proper weight to the large, problematic role of television in this odd war, and his characters are fleshed out far more completely than fans of the genre have come to expect. Well done. (First printing of 50,000)

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-09923-1
Page count: 400pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1993