CRUSADE by Rick Atkinson


The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War
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 Exhaustive, albeit consistently absorbing, record of the 42- day Gulf War that offers fresh, often startling, perspectives on the planning and conduct of what the author characterizes as ``a brilliant slaughter.'' Focusing almost entirely on military operations, Pulitzer- winning Washington Post correspondent Atkinson (The Long Gray Line, 1989) provides a chronological account of how the US-led coalition liberated Kuwait. In the course of doing so, he discloses that Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf could be an imperious martinet given to volcanic rages that not only cowed subordinates but also disturbed superiors (including Defense Secretary Richard Cheyney), who considered relieving him. The author also includes new details on, among other matters, how Washington persuaded Israel to eschew retaliation for Scud strikes; the aerial assault on Baghdad's Al Firdes bunker (which killed over 200 civilians and led to restrictions on strategic bombing); the hit-or-miss efforts of allied navies to clear mines from important waterways; disputes between intelligence agencies as to damage assessments; secret routes flown by US missiles on their way to enemy targets; the command decision to halt a rout short of annihilation; and the post-ceasefire action that decimated a fleeing Republican Guard division. Atkinson's episodic narrative also affords a coherent log of the successful air/sea/land campaign to oust Saddam from Kuwait. He recounts the contributions of the hang-loose French and British contingents, and unobtrusively puts crucial Gulf engagements in clearer context with allusions to feats of arms from the distant and recent past. Nor does Atkinson fail to point out that the professionalism displayed in achieving a deliberately limited triumph at a modest cost in casualties all but erased the stigma left by US involvement in Vietnam. Military history of a very high order. (Photos and maps--not seen) (First printing of 75,000; first serial to The Washington Post; Main Selection of the History Book Club)

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 1993
ISBN: 0-395-60290-4
Page count: 560pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1993


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