This definitive account of the Gulf War relates the previously untold story of the U.S. war with Iraq in the early 1990s. The author follows the 42-day war from the first night to the final day, providing vivid accounts of bombing runs, White House strategy sessions, firefights, and bitter internal conflicts.
Atkinson ( The Long Gray Line ) here writes an engrossing account of the actions and utterances of those who directed and fought in the Persian Gulf War. He also provides a thorough analysis of diplomatic and political aspects of the conflict. Rich in pertinent details, the powerful narrative leaps nimbly from Washington to Riyadh, from Baghdad to Kuwait City, and to various battle sites across the sands. Expectedly, the book's dominant personality is General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, whose operatic rages are here shown to be an integral element of his command style. Atkinson defends the much-maligned VII Corps commander, Gen. Fred Franks, against Schwarzkopf's ``unfair and unwarranted'' criticism. The basic tactical decisions are all here, but the author also addresses the broader issues such as the true effectiveness of the air war, what role the Vietnam War played in Desert Shield/Desert Storm (``For Norman Schwarzkopf and his lieutenants, this war lasted not six weeks but twenty years''), and passes judgment on the reality-testing of the U.S. Army AirLand Battle doctrine. Photos. 75,000 first printing; first serial to the Washington Post; History Book Club main selection; author tour. (Oct.)