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Bestselling novelist and nonfiction military author Clancy (A Guided Tour of an Aircraft Carrier, 1999, etc.) partners with Horner, a Vietnam fighter pilot who rose to general and commander of the Desert Storm air offensive, to narrate the Gulf War from the top commanders” vantage point. The duo portray an air-warrior culture shaped by the perennial possibility of death, whether in the exacting training or in combat. Horner describes the strange rules of engagement dictated to the military in Vietnam from LBJ’s far-off Washington, where politicians often bypassed the advice of military leaders in a policy of “Graduated Pressure” that prolonged the war and caused casualties to mount. Clancy credits young Vietnam-era officers like Colin Powell, Norman Schwarzkopf, and Horner with correcting the mistakes of that war by reforming the Army and Air Force while building the greatest, most effective armed forces in history. The result was a quick victory with few casualties over Iraq’s huge army. Readers get a detailed description of the air offensive and the victory in Kuwait and Iraq of a successful coalition of Arab, European, and American ground troops. There are snapshots of Schwarzkopf (the short fused, perfectionist Commander-in-Chief, who could not bear the agony of losing any of his beloved ground troops), Powell, President Bush, Secretary Cheney, and the Arab high commanders. Horner discusses the philosophy of command and finds that the war was necessary to stop the stealing of vital oil supplies and the murder, rape, and torture inflicted by Iraqi troops on the people of Kuwait. Despite the bravery of soldiers in a just cause, war is still a hateful course of action and should be used as a policy of last resort, Horner declares. An absorbing, detailed, and useful study of soldiers under stress and deadly events that tested their courage, determination and efficiency.

Pub Date: May 10th, 1999
ISBN: 0-399-14493-5
Page count: 576pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1999


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