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The Generals' War : The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf Paperback – November 9, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0316321006 ISBN-10: 0316321001 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; 1 edition (November 9, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316321001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316321006
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #378,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Drawing on interviews with senior officials and newly declassified documents, Gordon and Trainor provide a behind-the-scenes look at the Gulf War's generalship. The dominant figure, then-chairman of the joint chiefs General Colin Powell, is spotlighted as a politico-military maestro overseeing the dawn of a new era in military technology. In their review of the short, violent, one-sided war, the authors uncover the problems of cooperation among coalition forces and reveal details of interservice tensions, as well as difficulties within the U.S. branches themselves. This meticulous reconstruction of American leadership in Desert Shield/Desert Storm presents the conflict as a laboratory for testing new weapons and doctrine and the services' capacity for cooperation in the field. It also serves as an object lesson in the failure of deterrence and the problem of war termination, with a discussion of President Bush's premature cease-fire order. Gordon is chief New York Times Pentagon correspondent; Trainor is military columnist for the Times. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

If the Vietnam War was conducted by politicians in Washington, the war for Kuwait was, according to New York Times correspondent Gordon and retired general Trainor, our "generals' war." The authors astutely conclude that President Bush understood what his predecessors never did. Neither Johnson nor Nixon, nor for that matter National Security Council adviser Henry Kissinger, allowed the military to wage a winning war. The lesson was well learned by the savvy Gen. Colin Powell, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who directed his subordinates to lash out against the Iraqis with everything we had save for nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Kuwait was not Vietnam, however, and the unmotivated Iraqis were not the Vietcong. Aggrandized as "the world's fourth largest military," the enemy fizzled away within hours when confronted with the world's premier military force. Thus, it came as no surprise that Washington won the battle, but with Saddam Hussein still in power four years after hostilities ended, has it won the war? This cogent analysis provides several disturbing answers worthy of our attention. Recommended for informed lay readers and specialists.
Joseph A. Kechichian, Rand Corp., Santa Monica, Cal.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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He also allowed each of the other U.S. armed services to develop their own battle plans.
Nicholas E. Sarantakes
This book provides a great counterbalance to the respective service histories of the first Gulf War and a must read for anyone interested in that conflict.
P. J Lambert
In their acknowledgements section, the authors discuss in detail the research that went into the writing of this book.
Michael J. Mazza

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 17, 1997
Format: Hardcover
The authors provide interesting, behind-the-scenes accounts of the political and military players in this war, based on many interviews. What unfolds is far different from what was said publicly at the time.

Occasionally, the New York Times reporter's and the retired Marine's apparent biases show through, detracting from an otherwise very good book. They seem to blame President Reagan's administration for not buying mine-clearing equipment for the Marines and the Navy, but then blame the Air Force--and not the administration--for using its money to buy items other than the latest survival radios for its aircrews. They also inaccurately claim that the Air Force developed a new doctrine for this war where they would be in charge of all theater airpower (a doctrinal concept developed by them during the North African campaign in World War II) and that the Strategic Air Command had controlled the B-52s deployed to Southeast Asia during the Viet Nam War (they actually were operationally controlled by the Theater), as well as a few other inaccurate items regarding the Air Force. It became rather apparent that all Services that were not Marines (and to a lesser extent, Navy) were denigrated. An example is their claim that the Air Force required that friendly aircraft obtain two means to verify an unknown aircraft's identification before firing on it in order to hold down the Navy's 'kill' rate (since the Navy had not invested in the systems to install two separate means of identification on each of their aircraft, they needed to contact the AWACS to obtain the second means). The Viet Nam War demonstrated this requirement and for whatever reason, the Navy had not addressed it in the interim--which the authors evidently refused to say.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on December 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
In "The Generals' War: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf," Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor have crafted a fascinating work of military history. As the title indicates, the book places a heavy emphasis on the actions of the senior military officers involved in the planning and execution of the U.S.-led coalition's 1991 war against Iraq. In the preface, the authors note that this conflict "is without precedent in the annals of warfare. It was the dawn of a new era" (page x).

In their acknowledgements section, the authors discuss in detail the research that went into the writing of this book. They note that they interviewed administration officials, diplomats, allied military officers, and intelligence experts; they observe further that some "talked on the record; others on a not-for-attribution basis." They also drew on written responses that former president George Bush provided to their questions. Their research is meticulously documented in a lengthy set of endnotes (pages 479-520), thus enhancing the book's credibility. The text is further enhanced by thirteen detailed and clearly drawn maps that illuminate many aspects of the war: the Iraqi air defense system, coalition force deployment and movement, locations of oil fields, and more. Also included are photographs of many of the senior leaders involved in the war.

The book is full of fascinating details about many aspects of the war. The authors discuss the participation of various coalition forces in the campaign, as well as the diplomatic activities involving the USSR, Egypt, and other nations. Also discussed are friendly fire incidents and Iraqi POWs.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the third book that I, a veteran of Desert Shield and Storm, have read about the Gulf War. I agree with the previous reviewers' comments that the book is judgmental (sometimes on peripheral issues). However, "judgmental" is not always a dirty word. The bottom line is that we failed to destroy the Republican Guard. Failing to do so made Saddam's survival much less problematic (see "Out of the Ashes" by the Cockburns for a good account of Hussein's astonishing resilience.
I also thought the argument about the battle of Khafji was intriguing. I didn't think it at the time, but our victory there should have told us we would roll over the Iraqis and that VII Corps' plans for a long campaign were unrealistic.
But as they say...
the saddest words of tongue or pen, are the words 'it might have been.'
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 18, 1997
Format: Paperback
Bernard Trainor presents two key arguments in this book that are worthy of consideration. One is that the USMC learned early on in the battle for Kafji that the Iraqi army was a house of cards, but Gen. Swartzkopf either ignored or missed that message and in any event never got the word to VII Corp commander Gen. Franks to position his troops for a battle of pursuit. As a result a large portion of the Republican guard were able to escape the VII Corp left hook. The second key argument in this book is that Colin Powell the author of the so-called "Weinburger Doctrine" which argued for the use of US forces only when victory is assured and when backed by the will of the American people, urged George Bush to call a premature end to the war which allowed the Republican Guard to participate in crushing the Shi'ite rebellion occuring within earshot of US troops. Trainor is sometimes a little too critical of decisions made in the heat of battle and far too USMC-centric but he is an outstanding student of war. I highly reccommend this book.
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