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Encyclopedia of the Persian Gulf War

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Encyclopedia of the Persian Gulf War, 9780874366846 (0874366844), ABC Clio, 1995
Because the 1991 War for Kuwait (erroneously dubbed the Gulf War) ended too quickly, it will probably never receive the scholarly attention that other conflicts garner. The politics of the Gulf is too complex, perhaps even too foreign, for most observers, and the reasons for our intervention too pragmatic to deserve the kind of attention that ideologically motivated conflicts receive. These two titles provide detailed information on key questions, although Summers's emphasis is on military issues. Their purpose is to encapsulate?in short paragraphs arranged in an A-to-Z format?whatever data are available on the subject. Unfortunately, the results aren't always reliable. Both Grossman (The ABC-Clio Companion to the Environmental Movement, LJ 3/15/95) and military analyst Summers (Korean War Almanac, LJ 2/15/90) provide references, but they rely heavily on nonscholarly sources, and the information they offer is sometimes inaccurate or simplistic. For example, Grossman writes that Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz was born "to a Christian Chaldean Arab family of the Alawite faith," a statement that simply boggles the mind. Alawi Muslims are in fact part of an offshoot sect of Shia Islam. Although there may be some ties with Christianity, they are cultural, not religious, in nature and substance. Aziz, certainly a key player in the war, receives no entry in Summers. In another example, the controversy over war casualties is not properly covered. Both volumes report official U.S. figures (9000 Iraqi soldiers dead) although Summers's discussion is superior since it provides arguments on both sides. Both volumes provide numerous photographs, even if most are of weapons systems, and there is an abundance of portraits. Even CNN's Christianne (Christine in Grossman!) Amanpour makes it. There are some valuable appendixes?Grossman lists 92 useful documents under one cover, ranging from key executive orders to David Frost's March 27, 1991 interview with General Schwarzkopf, and Summers offers a brief historical background?but even these must be examined with care. Both books include chronologies, but the emphasis is on weapons, the theater of operations, and coalition forces. While both volumes are comprehensive enough and might be useful in public libraries, they offer little more than scripted entries for serious scholars.
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