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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