In This Review

Savage Peace: Americans At War in the 1990s
Savage Peace: Americans At War in the 1990s
By Daniel Bolger
Presidio Press, 1995, 368 pp

Lieutenant Colonel Bolger, a rising Army officer with a practiced pen (he has written three books, including one piece of fiction), has produced a popular survey of America's small wars in the 1990s. The book begins with a sniper ruminating on a 168-grain bullet exiting a skull in a spray of bone chips, blood, and tissue, and it contains many a reference to bloodied eye sockets and dismemberments -- prose that becomes gruesomely cloying. There is also, unfortunately, an undercurrent of bluster about "armchair strategists" and "U.N. attorneys" and assertions like "war power is America's iron hand." Nonetheless, Bolger does a creditable job of describing American military efforts in Somalia, Lebanon, and Yugoslavia. He is particularly adept at explaining such arcana as the rules of engagement and makes the occasional shrewd observation about why operations succeed or fail. Like many military officers these days, he feels free to make broad political judgments. The book would have been considerably better had the scholar (he has a Ph.D. in history) gotten the upper hand over the novelist.