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Martyr's Day: Chronicle of a Small War Paperback – December 26, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 2 edition (December 26, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400030366
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400030361
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.3 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,794,974 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This eyewitness account differs from the many other books on the Persian Gulf War in that it deals primarily with human-interest elements rather than military matters. Kelly, a journalist who traveled extensively in the countries that were affected by the Gulf conflict, chronicles the vagaries of the war and its impact on the lives of the people in a revealing and disturbing text. The narrative line is lively and easy to follow. Readers may want to compare this book with Ramsey Clark's The Fire This Time ( LJ 12/92) for a contrasting perspective; Kelly's book is less critical of U.S. policy. Recommended for general readers and public libraries.
- Nader Entessar, Spring Hill Coll., Mobile, Ala.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

"Michael Kelly has written the one book of literary value to come out the Gulf War. This is the best piece of war writing in a generation; not since Vietnam and Michael Herr's Dispatches has anyone conveyed the pity and terror of war, and the strangeness of the places where men fight, so well."--Robert Hughes


"Understated and beautifully crafted...a profound meditation on the depths of human cruelty."--Overseas Press Club Citation --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Andy Orrock VINE VOICE on December 28, 2003
Format: Paperback
Accomplished journalist Michael Kelly died as an 'imbed' covering the war in Iraq. The Humvee he and his military escort were traveling in lurched facedown into a dike. I decided after hearing of this tragedy that I would honor his bravery by seeking out "Martyr's Day," described by his colleagues as *the* master work of Gulf War reporting.
I was not disappointed. This is fabulous writing...and reporting. Reading 'War,' it comes as no surprise to know that Michael died in the middle of action. The book is rife with passage after passage of Kelly routinely putting his safety in jeopardy to get a story. Far from being a chonicle of simply Kuwait and Iraq, 'War' moves from Iraq to Jordan to Israel (via a complicated route through Cyprus - read the book to do this intricate travel itinerary justice) to Egypt to Saudi Arabia to a newly-liberated Kuwait.
The book stays strong throughout. In fact, the two most powerful passages are towards the end: the first depicts - in shocking detail - the carnage on the so-called "Highway of Death" (the road back to Basra from Kuwait City); the second takes us deep into Kurdistan, where Kelly shows us what befalls those areas once the U.S. pulls its support for the post-Gulf War Kurd uprising. Kelly follows the ramifications of Saddam's lash back at the Kurds through to a set of refugee camps on the Iranian border. Kelly himself picks up and battles as nasty bout of dysentery from his treks through the camps and experiences first-hand how one could get so sick so quick.
The book ends with his personal tale of escape through a smuggler's route and into Turkey. Other journalists traveling that same route are not so lucky: three that preceded Kelly are later found murdered.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By The Sanity Inspector on May 21, 2003
Format: Paperback
As you probably know, Michael Kelly was killed in Iraq during the late war, at the height of a truly distinguished journalistic career.
This book was written in the aftermath of Desert Storm. It is, as Kelly states in the forward, an impressionistic account of his experiences during the run-up to the war, the hostilities themselves, and the aftermath. With politics and military science largely excluded, it all adds up to a superior piece of travel writing.
Kelly had a great eye for scene-setting, for the telling anecdote, the incongruous detail, and the contrasting pair of viewpoints. Also for the pithy description: he describes a gorgeous couple he met in an elevator in Israel thus: "She looked like Darryl Hannah, and he looked like money and tennis."
The people's tales he tells are sometimes funny, and sometimes haunting. The funny ones often involved himself, as when he records himself gaping across a restaurant in Baghdad for a glimpse of the TV news. No one else shows any interest, and it dawns on him that it's because the Iraqi TV newscast is just a series of Saddam's Great Leader proclamations, boringly familiar to everyone. Some scenes are funny and haunting, as in one where a British TV crew is filming an interview with a Kuwaiti man who is describing his torture ordeal at the hands of the Iraqis. The tearful man is repeatedly interrupted by the blasé producer, to amend some technical difficulty or other.
It's a fine wartime travelogue, and it is a great pity that there won't be any more such from Michael Kelly.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 8, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Mike Kelly's account of the Gulf War in Martyr's Day: Chronicle of a Small War, is informative and interesting. The Gulf War was carefully planned, undertaken and won by the United States in little over a month. Kelly has carefully written about the war from behind the lines and places we weren't able to see on CNN. I am quite amazed at one point, that Mike Kelly actually swam across a river into Turkey with smugglers. Courage and bravery Mike Kelly must be commended with. His book should be given the same credit for what he went through to write it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 4, 2003
Format: Paperback
An amazing account of Desert Storm. Rest in Peace Michael Kelly, for those who are familiar with his wonderful writing in The New Republic, an Atlantic Online, and Washington Post. A conservative thinker with a liberal's heart. True blue.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David C. Read VINE VOICE on June 18, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On April 3, 2003, America lost one of its greatest journalists, Michael Kelly. He was covering the Iraq war as an embedded reporter, and was killed when the humvee in which he was riding came under fire and plunged into a canal. Kelly was both an acute observer of places, people, and events, and also a remarkable writer and literary stylist.

By 2003, Iraq was already very familiar terra firma to Kelly, having covered the first Gulf War. The book begins on "Martyr's Day," 1991, in Baghdad, Iraq, which was two days before the air war portion of the first Gulf War began. Kelly was required to be accompanied at all times by a government official that everyone called a "minder." Kelly's minder was former army officer who had served during the interminable and costly war with Iran. He could not afford to pay for his son's wedding, and felt he had wasted his life in the army. "All my friends have businesses money," he complained bitterly. "Look at me--I'm a minder!"

Kelly was in Iraq as the bombs and cruise missiles began to rain down. Two days later, Kelly traveled by car to Syria, a car trip that cost $7,000.00. After staying in Syria for several days, Kelly traveled to Israel via Cypress, to rendezvous with his fiance, who was a news producer. Travel to Israel from most arab countries is a tricky business, requiring two passports, because these countries do not officially acknowledge Israel's existence. He was in Israel at the height of Saddam's scud missile attacks on that country. Everyone was required to carry a gas mask with them at all times. Women being what they are, however, a market for designer covers for gas masks soon sprang up, allowing the women to coordinate their gas mask with their outfit.
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