Inside the Danger Zone

The U.S. Military in the Persian Gulf, 1987-1988
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Published:September 15, 2013
By Harold Lee Wise (Author)

In May 1987, an Iraqi plane fired two missiles into USS Stark, a lone U.S. Navy frigate on patrol in the Gulf.  The missiles severely damaged the ship and killed thirty-seven sailors.  This deadly attack, which Iraq claimed was accidental, brought heightened attention to the Persian Gulf and heralded the beginning of a new era in U.S. Middle Eastern policy. From the Iraqi attack on the USS Stark to Iranian mine fields to Revolutionary Guard gunboats, the 1987-88 Persian Gulf was a place of shadowy danger for U.S. Navy ships assigned to protect oil tankers during the Iran-Iraq War. A low-profile escort mission quickly became an international test of wills between the United States and Iran. The conflict escalated to involve secret missions and special operations until finally the United States and Iran engaged in open combat, most notably during Operation Praying Mantis in April 1988, the world's largest sea-air battle since World War II. It was the largest deployment of American forces between the Vietnam War and Desert Storm and one with dramatic implications for subsequent events. Yet, the story remained mostly untold and misunderstood for almost two decades. Inside the Danger Zone is the first book ever published to focus on this period, a fourteen-month span that saw an unprecedented series of American military action in this volatile region. Based on declassified documents and extensive interviews with veterans and government officials, many of which spoke out for the first time, Inside the Danger Zone is a fast moving narrative history that tells the story of this quasi-war with Iran from the White House to the front lines.

List Price: $36.95
Member Price: $29.56
Product Details
  • Subject: Military History
  • Hardback : 272 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (September 15, 2013)
  • ISBN-10: 1591149703
  • ISBN-13: 9781591149705
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 18.4 oz

Harold Lee Wise is an adjunct history professor in North Carolina. He won the Ben H. Powell writing award at Sam Houston State University and is a frequent contributor to military history encyclopedias.

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Inside the Danger Zone
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Customer Reviews

2 Reviews
Average Customer Reviews
4.50 Stars
Reviewed in Defense Technology Int'l., July/Aug 07
Monday, August 6, 2007
By: David Axe
"The U.S. involvement in the so-called Tanker War saw the breathtaking combat debut of the Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and the first combat use of night-vision goggles by helicopter pilots. But perhaps most impressive was the rushed outfitting of a 1960s-era oil support platform as an ad-hoc 'sea base' supporting choppers, patrol boats and signals-intelligence troops. The unorthodox floating base inspired a fair amount of hand-wringing among senior Pentagon officials who felt it was too vulnerable and too weird, but the idea not only worked, it presaged the Navy's current sea-basing and "Global Fleet Station" concepts. Wise deserves kudos for highlighting this nearly forgotten, but important, naval development." "In Wise's compelling book, the tense escorts, daring special forces raids, and intelligence operations represent the tentative first steps of the reborn post-Vietnam U.S. military that would go on to trounce Iraq's army twice in 12 years and successfully invade land-locked Afghanistan with a tiny sea-based force of Marines."
Reviewed in Nav District Washington, The Waterline
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
By: Youssef Aboul-Enein
Wise writes about Kuwait?s role in securing a commitment from the United States to protect oil shipping in the Persian Gulf during the Iran-Iraq War. Kuwait played the United States and the Soviet Union against each other to ensure one superpower came to defend vital Persian Gulf sea lanes. During that time, Kuwait set a precedent of providing fuel to the allies who protected its oil shipping lanes. Understanding the political dynamics and U.S. Naval operations in the Persian Gulf of this time period offers valuable insight for our continued presence in this volatile area.


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