"Greetings to the revolution in Kuwait," the book begins, citing Radio Baghdad on August 2, 1990; right after comes George Bush's first comment, "We're not ruling any options in, but we're not ruling any options out." War of the Words, a vivid compendium of nearly a thousand quotations, is a way to relive highs and lows of the Kuwait crisis, then the war. President Bush also has the last word, this time exulting, "By God, we've kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!" Here's a sampler of what's between:
Fred Reed, a U.S. Air Force columnist wins the award for most bellicose American statement with his October suggestion to "nuke Baghdad into glass, wipe it with Windex, tie fatback on our feet and go skating." David Harkworth, a retired paratrooper analyzed the situation days after hostilities began: "The Iraqi army in Kuwait is crumbling like a doughnut that's been soaked in too much coffee." Steven Spiegel of UCLA already in the beginning of February understood Saddam Husayn's intentions: "I think what he wants is to inflict casualties, be chased out of Kuwait, then declare victory." Non-Americans had a share of colorful remarks. "In a war, the American soldiers are a new kind of foreign worker here," commented a Saudi teacher. "We have Pakistanis driving taxis and now we have Americans defending us." "A bogus, puffed-up frog of a man" was Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd's most undiplomatic description of Saddam. And so on. The compilation is sprightly and the impact visceral.