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Vipers in the Storm: Diary of a Gulf War Fighter Pilot Hardcover – February 1, 1999

4.6 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Air operations in the Gulf War of 1990-1991 have most frequently been either the subject of theoretical analysis or presented from a cockpit perspective. This first-rate memoir bridges the gap, telling the story of life in a front-line squadron while integrating a first-person account into the wider contexts of modern air warfare. Rosenkranz was a captain flying Vipers, F-16 fighters, out of Al Minhad, Saudi Arabia. He takes his readers through the autumn buildup; his own questions about what it meant to kill people; the importance of mail from home; the constant waiting for a call that finally came on the night of January 18, 1991. He conveys the irony of men trained for years in air-to-air combat being committed to ground strikes?the most dangerous kind of mission for an F-16. Rosenkranz flew against Baghdad, against Iraqi troops and tanks before the ground war started, and against the fugitives fleeing from Kuwait City along "Hell's Highway." He emphasizes the synergy of modern electronics and human skills required when seeking out small targets while running a gauntlet of anti-aircraft fire. He also establishes beyond question that, talk of "smart weapons" to the contrary, his was not a "technowar" of smoothly pushed buttons. Bombs failed to explode. Target information was incomplete. The sky remained unforgiving of mistakes. Rosenkranz accepted the legitimacy of America's commitment in the Gulf, but neither he nor his squadron mates were happy warriors. They were professionals who wanted to do their jobs and go home alive?in that order.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Rosenkranz gives a personal account of his career as a pilot of the F-16 fighter plane (nicknamed the ``Viper'') and his experiences in combat during Operation Desert Storm. Rosenkranz begins his story with a training exercise in the US that is interrupted with news of the Iraqi buildup along Kuwaits border. From there, the story escalates as rumors of his units possible deployment are heard. Rosenkranz deftly tells of his own mixed feelings about possible combaton one hand, excitement, as this is the mission he has been training for, on the other hand, apprehension about leaving his wife and twin infant daughters. Interjected into the narrative is a thumbnail history of the nation of Iraq, the Iran-Iraq war, and the regime of Saddam Hussein, which provides invaluable background for the story (and for more current events). Rosenkranz offers a near-epic account of the flight of his unit (it took 17 hours and 10 aerial refuelings) to their station in the United Arab Emirates. The tales high point, however, is not the combat itself, but rather the anticipation of combat as President Bush and the UN coalition drew the line in the sand and waited for Iraq to back down. Rosenkranz describes with insight and clarity the feelings of men who have been trained to fight a war but have never done so, and the intense feelings that built up among the air crews as they sat in the hot desert waiting for war. Despite the surprisingly clichd accounts of aerial combat (which sound like theyre straight out of Top Gun), Rosenkranz (who works today as a commercial pilot) paints a vivid picture of an airmans service in the last Gulf war. Former secretary of defense Dick Cheney contributes a foreword. (25 illustrations, not seen) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Series: Aviation Week Book
  • Hardcover: 325 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing (February 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071346708
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071346702
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #982,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Written from a first person point of view, Keith "Rosey" Rosenkranz takes the reader along with him in his F-16C through the exciting and, at times, terrifying combat sequences in the Gulf War. From the air to air combat during a bombing mission in the first chapter through the end of the war over Basra, his descriptions are vivid without becoming mired down in military jargon and acronyms. He presents the F-16C, its maintainers and the men flying the airplane as an entire weapons system, offering many details only available from a first hand account. He shares the commraderie and trials of squadron life and offers a hearty glimpse into the world of a USAF fighter pilot.
As if the book weren't enough, the author has an accompanying website ... . This innovative site is a perfect companion to the book and includes a wealth of technical details, lots of photos and an interactive "Viper" cockpit. He even includes actual HUD display tapes from his missions (listed by chapter) in a real player format along with other video sequences. The only thing missing are the G forces!
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Format: Paperback
My son and I read Vipers in the Storm together. We were soon engrossed in Capt. Rosenkranz's training and preparation for action in Desert Shield & Desert Storm.
Capt. Rosenkranz's book is not the typical "shoot `em up" war story. "Rosey," his Viper call sign, first describes his desert training and then gives the reader some background leading up to the Gulf War. I found this invaluable, as my son was not even born when the Storm ended. It's also a great review for us older folks who may have forgotten a thing or two, or maybe didn't know the rest of the story!
Throughout the book, Rosey describes his personal feelings, his worries, disappointments, love for family, and sadness and horror. Nothing is left out. His attention to detail and accuracy is outstanding. When you finish this great book you, too, will have a new measure of appreciation for America's Viper drivers, which is personified here by Keith Rosenkranz.
Although the book impressed me, it made even a bigger impression on my 10-year-old. With the current situation with Iraq, the book gave him cause to question current events with me and has impressed on him what we are transitioning to in the Gulf today. Rosey's love for his family, and separation from them, as well as the training, downtime, and losses he wrote of, vividly portray the struggles our pilots have faced and are facing today.
When the "action" does start, Rosey pulls no punches and again accurately describes the entire mission from turning on the VTR and titling his tape to munching a granola bar at 36,000 feet on the flight home. In between those times, Rosey recounts some hair-raising incidents, again in great detail. Rosey's account of his 30 combat missions should dispel any doubts that America's fighter pilots "just push buttons.
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Format: Hardcover
First-hand reports are always the best, and this book is certainly one of the top raters that I have read. Surprising detail is included, both of the airplane and the tactics employed. I would strongly recommend it to anyone interested in military aviation.
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Format: Paperback
This is a brilliant book.

For anyone interested in military aviation or modern warfare I can only recommend reading Keith Rosenkrantz's excellent account of his part in the first Gulf War.

This book is well written, easy to read, detailed and personal in a way many of these books fail to be.

As a pilot myself (commercial) and having always dreamed of flying such aviation exotica as the F-16, this book is the key for us mere mortals to step into the world of the modern fighter pilot. It gives you a taste of the discipline, courage and commitment required.

For all this and much more you should definitely check out Vipers in the Storm.

When you're finished reading it drop Rosey a line, like I did to thank him for sharing his experiences. His email address is at the back of the book and he was gracious enough to reply to my message too. An officer and a gentleman not to mention hero.
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By A Customer on April 9, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Keith Rosenkranz has shown the human side to the awesome warrior that sits at the controls of the F-16 'Viper'. The bond that exists amongst squadron mates is there but also, and more importantly, his devotion to his family. His realistic and pragmatic call to duty was supported by his loving wife and unknowingly by his two young daughters. He heeded the call to arms like a lion out for the hunt: with dedication to his duty but at the same time concerned for his family. Mr. Rosenkranz's prose is excellent and makes from some excellent reading. The book was extremely difficult to put down and offered a close look at what a fighterpilot's life is like overseas. The technical jargon is there but accessible to everyone. The patriotism and devotion to God and Country abound with honor and humbleness. To many who could not be there in person, Keith Rosenkranz instills patriotism and love for one's country. This book is a must read for anyone interesting in the Air War over the Gulf or anyone interested in an "I was there" unbiased view about aerial combat. Thank you Keith and the rest of the Spiders!
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