From the nineteenth century through the 1991 war with Iraq, this study of America's expanding role in the Persian Gulf traces the development of American commercial interests in the region and the resulting growth of military and political involvement.
In an enlightening analysis, Palmer maintains that the Gulf war must be accounted a great victory: ``Routing such a large army while taking so few friendly casualties was an incredible achievement.'' It accomplished the limited goals set by the Bush administration, but also reflected Washington's traditional reluctance to risk deeper political and military involvement in the region. Palmer, who teaches history at East Carolina University, argues convincingly that Operation Desert Storm was the culmination of a process that began when the British made themselves protectors of the Persian Gulf two centuries ago. Describing how WW II highlighted the growing importance of petroleum to the West and exposed Britain's strategic weakness, he explains how the United States replaced that nation commercially, economically and militarily in the area. Palmer's description of Operation Desert Shield/Operation Desert Storm is the most succinct and clarifying yet published.