MARTYRS' DAY by Michael Kelly


Chronicle of a Small War
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 A journalist's haunting, beautifully written record of the eventful time he spent in the Middle East before, during, and after the Gulf War. Kelly (now a New York Times correspondent) was in Baghdad on assignment for The Boston Globe and The New Republic before hostilities commenced. After witnessing the US-led coalition's first air strikes against the city, he moved on via Jordan to Israel in time for the Scud blitz of Tel Aviv. Having left the Jewish state through Egypt, Kelly made his way to Saudi Arabia, from where he followed allied ground forces into Kuwait. On the ruined road to the oil-rich sheikdom, liberated after a seven-month occupation, Kelly and his traveling companion became atypically involved spectators, reluctantly accepting the surrender of a battle-weary band of Iraqi soldiers (whom they turned over to rear- echelon Saudis). In the wake of the 100-hour walkover, the author trekked through the ravaged mountains of Kurdistan, eventually returning to Baghdad. Kelly has a sharp eye for telling detail and a gift for felicitous phrasing, as he writes, for example, of traffic whirling dervishly on the streets of Baghdad in the waning days of 1990 when Iraqis honored their war dead and tried to convince themselves another conflict would not come. His vivid reports on casualties along the only escape route from Kuwait City, on refugee camps in Iran, profiteering among the vanquished Iraqis, and other of combat's hellish consequences are not, however, for the squeamish. While Kelly offers almost no commentary, his perceptive observations on the human costs and moral ambiguities of war speak for themselves. As compelling and revelatory an account of the Gulf War as has yet been published.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-679-41122-4
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1992