Martyrs’ Day (Magill Book Reviews)
Michael Kelly won two prizes for his inspired reporting of the Gulf War and its aftermath. The fruit of his remarkable experience is MARTYRS’ DAY: CHRONICLE OF A SMALL WAR. Kelly’s book is an absorbing narrative of his encounters with ordinary men and women on both sides of the war. He was present in Baghdad for the opening of Operation Desert Storm. Kelly brilliantly re-creates the delusive atmosphere fostered by Saddam Hussein’s totalitarian regime in Iraq, which contributed so much to the coming of the war. Dodging American warplanes, Kelly escaped from Iraq and visited Jordan and Israel, where he observed the Palestinians’ obsessive enthusiasm for Saddam Hussein’s Scud missile attacks on Israel and the Israelis stoic calm in the face of this modern Blitz. From Israel, Kelly traveled to the front in Saudi Arabia. Here he rode with Coalition forces in the great armored sweep across the desert which broke the Iraqi hold on Kuwait. He entered Kuwait City with these victorious troops.
The heart of MARTYRS’ DAY is Kelly’s exploration of the impact of the Gulf War on the people caught up in it. His account attains great dramatic and moral force as he describes the atrocities committed by the Iraqis and the burned out wreckage of Iraqi convoys strafed by the Americans. Here, with masterful prose, Kelly illumines both the depths to which men can sink when given absolute power over others, and the horrors wrought by modern push-button warfare....
(The entire section is 373 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Martyrs’ Day (Magill's Literary Annual 1991-2005)
The Gulf War of 1991 faded quickly from American consciousness. The extravagant hopes it raised and the dizzying pride it inspired-the vision of an American-led coalition defending justice across the globe—ebbed with remarkable speed. The tide of innocent blood spilled and unavenged in Somalia and Bosnia has served as a reproach and a bitter epitaph to the New World Order launched in the deserts of Arabia.
Michael Kelly’s Martyrs’ Day: Chronicle of a Small War is a timely reminder of the ambiguous nature of the Gulf War. Kelly covered the war as a journalist. During the conflict and its aftermath, he traveled through Iraq, Jordan, Israel, and Kuwait, talking to people who are usually faceless and voiceless in history—cab drivers, merchants, and soldiers. His war is not the war Americans watched on television. Though inevitably he describes air strikes, explosions, and the dramatic sweep of Coalition armor across the desert, Kelly’s true subject is the inner war, the war of ideals and passions, confusion and hatred, rather than that of the technical operations of diplomats and generals. His is not a tale of a triumph over aggression and tyranny, nor is it an isolationist or pacifist indictment of the victory. Kelly records the effects of dictator-ship and war on the ordinary people with whom he sympathizes. He is a moralist, reminding readers once again of the ubiquity of human depravity and folly. There are heroes and villains in his...
(The entire section is 2125 words.)