Winner of the National Magazine and the Overseas Press Club Awards
Synopses & Reviews
From the lethal fireworks that lit the sky over Baghdad on the war's first night to the elation with which Kuwait's citizens greeted their liberators and the horror with which they counted their dead Michael Kelly managed to be present at every critical moment of the Gulf War. He also managed to see it with a sharpness and candor that escaped most other observers. In this award-winning book, Kelly re-creates the Gulf War as tragedy, black comedy, and grand guignol, writing with daring, passion, and razor-edged observation.
"[H]aunting, beautifully written....[Kelly's] perceptive observations on the human costs and moral ambiguities of war speak for themselves. As compelling and revelatory an account of the Gulf War as has yet been published." Kirkus Reviews
"Rich in irony and insight, this journalistic account of the Gulf War is written in original, precisely detailed, highly visual language....[Kelly's] book has the power to make the war real for the American reader." Anne Gendler, Booklist
"This eyewitness account differs from the many other books on the Persian Gulf War in that it deals primarily with human-interest elements rather than military matters." Library Journal
"The only American journalist in the Middle East with a voice and a pair of eyes of his own. Kelly in the Gulf [is] the heir to Stephen Crane in Greece, Evelyn Waugh in Abyssinia, and Hemingway in Spain." Los Angeles Times
"Michael Kelly's superb piece of reportage...reminds us that when George Bush compared Saddam to Hitler, he was not being facetious....Mr. Kelly brings to his work the mind of a scholar, the eye of a painter, and the pen of a poet." Radek Sikorski, The National Review
"As much a work of literature as of journalism....Martyrs' Day gives a better sense of what happened than any book has so far, and in a way the best television never could match....[It is] a war book for our time." Boston Sunday Globe
"Understated and beautifully crafted...a profound meditation on the depths of human cruelty." Overseas Press Club Citation
"Michael Kelly has written the one book of literary value to come out the Gulf War. This is the best piece of war writing in a generation; not since Vietnam and Michael Herr's Dispatches has anyone conveyed the pity and terror of war, and the strangeness of the places where men fight, so well." Robert Hughes
Michael Kelly, who traveled through every country touched by the Gulf War, moved about as a free-lance journalist for the Boston Globe and the New Republic. He traveled through much of the Middle East during and after the Gulf War, watching the bombs fall on Baghdad and waiting for Scuds in Tel Aviv, inspecting the gold bathroom fixtures installed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the empire s temporary palace in Kuwait City and dining with Kurdish chieftains in remote mountain camps in northern Iran.
When ground war in Iraq began, Michael Kelly rented a four-wheel-drive Nissan Safari, borrowed some camouflage pants and gas-proof rubber gloves, and set off across the desert, where he was mistaken for an advance party of the American Army and surrendered to by a batch of bewildered Iraqi soldiers. In Kuwait after the liberation, he listened to horrific tales of torture and rape, and walked among the grotesque remains of the bombed-out retreating Iraqi army on the roads home. Later, when Kelly went to Kurdistan, he hiked into forbidden Iraqi territory and then traveled with various guerrilla bands at war with Saddam Hussein. He got out of Iraq by swimming across a river into Turkey in the company of smugglers. Kelly s story is witty, moving, and dramatically compelling, at once superb reporting and the very best travel writing. By avoiding the human story of the Gulf War, he has given us an indispensable piece of our history.
Restrained yet explosive dispatches from the front . . . Kelly demonstrates a keen eye for the telling detail, a well-developed sense of irony . . . courage and enterprise. National Magazine"
In this classic account of the Gulf War from all sides of the conflict, Michael Kelly brings Operation Desert Storm to vivid life. He watches bombs fall on Baghdad; waits for Scud attacks in Tel Aviv, hears horrific tales of rape and torture in Kuwait, and travels with Kurdish rebels at war with Saddam Hussein themselves. In the new foreword and afterword, Kelly places the Gulf War in the context of the other wars of the twentieth century and makes a case for its being the opening salvo in the first war of the twenty-first century.
A journalist for The New York Times recounts his year in the Persian Gulf region during Bush's war, focusing on the people and places and capturing the moral ambiguity and human tragedy of war.
About the Author
Michael Kelly was an editor-at-large for The Atlantic Monthly and a syndicated columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. For his Post columns, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2000. He covered the Gulf War as a freelance writer for GQ, and his frontline dispatches for The New Republic won a National Magazine Award and an Overseas Press award. Martyrs' Day: Chronicle of a Small War was first published by Random House in 1993 and won the PEN-Martha Albrand award and a New York Times Notable Books listing. He was married to Madelyn Kelly and they have two sons, Tom and Jack. He died in 2003 while covering the war in Iraq.