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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 51 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 (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,740,983 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 Verified Purchase
I agree with all the other 5 star reviews. I will not elaborate as the other reviewers have reviewed so well. I notice that the author responds to one star reviews. I don't know if he reads and responds to raves but I did want to mention that I think he might have been a little hard on his wing commander whom he rarely saw or spoke to and whom he criticized for poor leadership for that reason. It was my experience in the USAF in SAC as a missileer and TAC as a staff officer back in the 70s that the wing commander was off base as often as he was present because he was always interacting with higher headquarters somewhere. Of necessity the Vice Commander was seen more often by the crews because he stayed behind and acted on the wing commander's behalf. Yet it was the Wing Commander who would be held responsible for any failures by anyone in the organization. Response?
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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am not an aviator. Rather I was Moe interested in READ about an Air Force pilots experience of being one during an armed conflict. This book written by Keith Rosenkranz wa an honest memoir of an F-16 pilot. I didn't find the terminology difficult nor the avionics. I found the content , honest and fulfilling and exciting.

The book is not saturated with technical data that would over cook a reader. The book does move rather smoothly and quickly to trace "Rosey's" (call sign) preparation, and deployment to the first gulf war. It doesn't waste time getting him there. One the other hand, Rosey is a family man and throughout his book he speaks often of missing them and wanting the war to be over. Rosey also finds out the after all he's done to train and become a lethal fighter pilot, the morality of war, and the death he deals with begin a new conflict with himself. I highly recommend this book. The author balanced the pride he shared being a proud fighter pilot, an American, a husband and father and now a civilian once again. Thanks for a great book..
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