For most Americans, the first Gulf War was a video-game war. We knew it only as television images of blurry streaks across greenish skies, talking heads, excited voices giving a play-by-play on tactics and military decisions; we found it impossible to understand what was happening on the ground, who was suffering our relentless bombardment. But a few revelatory images did leak out. The one I remember most clearly was taken inside a bomb shelter in Baghdad, where frightened people sat against a wall; in the foreground, a man buttoned up his little boy's jacket. As his father carefully performed this most mundane and routine of tasks, the child gazed directly at the camera, his face expressionless, his eyes large and dark with terror. When I learned some days later that Baghdad's biggest shelter, Amiriya, had taken a direct strike and that some 408 people, including many children, had died in heat so intense that it carbonized flesh to walls and turned human bodies into shadows, I wondered if this was the shelter I had seen, if the little boy and his father were... More >>>