A scathing indictment of the United States’ efforts in the 1990-91 Persian Gulf War that uses Iraqi history to highlight what the author sees as the achievements of Saddam Hussein.
Gery’s debut, an exhaustive breakdown of the first major American war since Vietnam, takes issue with what he sees as the Western media’s image of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein as a sadistic monster and petty madman. Instead, he recasts him as a heroic figure—a David who defeated the Goliath of the United States. The book delves deep into the history of the Middle East before the Gulf War, drawing parallels between Iraq’s military buildup and subsequent invasion of Kuwait and Israel’s growth in the region, whose actions, he says, were met with far less Western resistance. This inequity, Gery asserts, along with what he characterizes as heavy U.S. media control to sell the war and its success, suggests that the conflict wasn’t nearly as black and white as it was presented to the American people. The author’s in-depth analysis of the United States’ failures to dent Hussein’s forces during the war, despite multiple bombing campaigns, contrasts with Iraq’s successful, if brief, moves against Saudi Arabia and Israel. It depicts an American leadership that was unprepared for war and too willing to rely on unproven battlefield technology rather than skilled ground troops. The author makes a strong case that Hussein’s forces weren’t forcibly removed from Kuwait but rather beat a strategic retreat. Gery says that the Iraqi leader cemented his reputation in the Arab world by denying the United States any of its true goals, as he maintained much of his military and was neither assassinated nor deposed by his people. This book is filled to the brim with maps, charts, and numerous photos of locations and important figures in the war. Most impressively, the e-book edition takes great advantage of the digital format, offering links to newscasts, speeches, and battlefield videos currently available on YouTube and the C-SPAN website. Some of the book’s conclusions seem to overreach, and it doesn’t look as critically at Hussein’s moves as it does those of the United States, the United Nations, Israel, and others. Overall, though, it’s exceptionally well-cited, with more than 70 pages of notes and reference materials.
A dense, thorough look at the failures and horrors of the first Iraq War.