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Capsule Review

Into the Desert: Reflections on the Gulf War

In This Review

Into the Desert: Reflections on the Gulf War
Into the Desert: Reflections on the Gulf War
Edited by Jeffrey Engel
Oxford University Press, USA, 2012, 240 pp. $29.95 Purchase

It is unlikely that a book of essays published under the auspices of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs would be excessively critical of U.S. conduct during the 1990–91 Gulf War, during which Brent Scowcroft served as national security adviser. And indeed, at least one of the contributions falls prey to the temptation of complacent justification of the war leadership of Bush père at the particular expense of Bush fils more than a decade later. But the others are appropriately judicious, complex, and ambivalent. In retrospect, the war was far less the definitive and smashing success the administration claimed (and some of its former members still believe it to have been) and more a gateway to a different set of problems Saddam Hussein posed. Most college students today were not even born when the Gulf War occurred: this book is a good way of helping them think about what it meant.

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