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Martyr's Day: Chronicle of a Small War Paperback – December 26, 2001
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From Library Journal
- 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
"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.
Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Absolutely excellent book by a now-dead (transport accident in action) superior reporter/writer. Reveals some of the Arab mind characteristics -- bad and good -- so that those of... Read morePublished on June 24, 2013 by vm2
Michael Kelly has written an engrossing, witty, and insightful account of his coverage of the Gulf War, and one which makes clear to what lengths he went to get to the story on the... Read morePublished on July 27, 2011 by Stephen B. Mumford
This book is a random collection of personal impressions from different civilian points of view in different areas of operations in the 1st Gulf War. Read morePublished on December 9, 2010
Rather than concentrating on the military aspect of the Gulf war, Michael Kelly has instead focused on the human drama taking place behind the battle lines in this wonderful... Read morePublished on October 24, 2007 by stephen-b