The Line of Fire: From Washington to the Gulf, the Politics and Battles of the New Military

In This Review

The Line of Fire: From Washington to the Gulf, the Politics and Battles of the New Military

By William J. Crowe with David Chanoff
Simon and Schuster, 1993
367 pp. $25.00
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This memoir begins with a 1989 trip to a Soviet cruiser, complete with a teary Mike Wallace in attendance for the visit of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to a Soviet warship. Crowe, who helped provide then-candidate Clinton with some military bona fides during the presidential campaign, recounts his career easily-a start in diesel submarines, three tours as an aide, a Ph.D. in politics at Princeton, service in Vietnam and a succession of staff tours leading to four-star rank. Most of the book, however, covers the last six years of his military career, from his service as commander in chief of Pacific Forces to his tenure as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. No startling revelations here, and Crowe underplays some stories, including his reservations about the use of force in the Persian Gulf War. Early in his career Crowe suggested (only partly in jest) that the chief of naval operations should be a lawyer, because a flag officer's powers of persuasion count more in Washington than combat skill. His book gives a sense of the cast of mind of one type of the new breed of American senior commanders, who sport doctoral degrees as well as medals, who make no bones about considering bureaucratic adroitness an essential virtue, and who have their own, fairly firm views about foreign policy.