Thursday, December 13, 2012

Into the Desert: Reflections on the Gulf War

by Jeffrey Engel (Editor)

In the decade following the first Gulf War, most observers regarded it as an exemplary effort by the international community to lawfully and forcefully hold a regional aggressor in check. Interpretations have changed with the times. The Gulf War led to the stationing of US troops in Saudi Arabia, an important contributing cause of the 9/11 attacks. The war also led to a long obsession with Saddam Hussein that culminated in a second, far longer, American-led war with Iraq.
In Into the Desert, historian Jeffrey Engel has gathered an all-star cast of contributors to reevaluate the first Gulf War: Michael Gordon of the New York Times; Sir Lawrence Freedman, former foreign policy advisor to Tony Blair; American Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan Ryan Crocker; Middle East specialist Shibley Telhami; and Richard Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations. Engel and his contributors examine the war's origins, the war itself, its impact within the Arab world, and its long-term impact on military affairs and international relations. All told, Into the Desert offers an astute reassessment of one of the most momentous events in the last quarter century (synopsis and book cover from Goodreads).

My Thoughts

Very Educational.

I do have this fascination with the working of the Middle East. I enjoy reading the ins and outs of politics and policy-making. This book was excellent in explaining the background of the Gulf War. Early in the book, there were two passages that I felt clearly explained it’s intent:

“This book examines the Gulf War anew. It’s goal is to explain, within the broad categories of history, strategy, politics, military affairs and public opinion, what the initial war over Kuwait meant to participants at the time; what it continues to mean to journalists, scholars, and policymakers still engaged in the region.......”

Then, with regards to the writings of the different contributors:

“Collectively, their purpose is to inform readers unfamiliar with these events why they mattered .....”

When I read that second passage, I thought - that’s me! I am one of those readers unfamiliar with the events that lead to the Gulf War and I really did find this book to be fascinating and informative.

Many thanks to Oxford University and Netgalley for allowing me to read this book for an unbiased review.

Publish date: December 3 2012.

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