A Woman at War

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The American military establishment emerged from the SecondIndochina War determined to restrict public access to itsoperations in future conflicts. Needless to say, the military’sreputation suffered, and continues to suffer, in consequence ofsuch attempts to control the free flow of information duringcampaigns in Panama and Kuwait/Iraq as well as on the island ofGrenada.

It’s not necessarily that the military has so much to hide. Indeed, the American people have more reason to be proud of theirtax dollars at work in this area than perhaps any other nation onearth. Nevertheless, Murphy’s Law was elaborated to describeoccurrences common to the military history of the human community. Therefore, when commanders, civilian or otherwise, attempt totransform reporters into cheerleaders for the home team, thoseunfortunate incidents common to any battlefield assume all theaspects of a conspiracy.

Molly Moore was afforded a unique opportunity to observe DesertStorm from the vantage point of the commander of all U.S. Marinesassigned to the Kuwaiti theater of operations. Not surprisingly,her recounting of that experience is filled with anecdotes ofequipment failure, tactical blunders, strategic oversights, and allthe other snafus that have been a feature of any recourse to armsthroughout history. A WOMAN AT WAR is a valuable addition to theliterature of this campaign, but it’s unfortunate that Moore is notmore widely read in the area of military history. If such were thecase, her outrage and mystification about the reality of war mightbe far less intense, allowing her to focus her considerable powersof analysis to reveal what truths might be gleaned from theexperience. War is a nasty and filthy pastime, and Desert Stormwas no exception.