Retired Army Gen. "Stormin'" Norman Schwarzkopf, 78, died of complications from pneumonia on Thursday in Tampa, where he had retired after his final military assignment in 1992. The man who orchestrated the 1991 invasion of Iraq then returned to a hero's welcome had been a quiet figure in his later years, resisting calls to run for office and rarely speaking publicly on military issues, even when the U.S. re-invaded Iraq in 2003. Seeing as how it's been more than twenty years since Schwarzkopf was a household name, you're probably going to need some brushing up on the man The New York Times calls "the nation’s most acclaimed military hero since the mid-century exploits of Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur," and who was once bandied about as a presidential possibility in the mold of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Instead of clicking blindly through the reams of obituaries already starting to flow into cyberspace, here are a few key choices for the news buff in a hurry.
- The fastest, most cursory look at Schwarzkopf's life and career comes from CNN, which hits the highlights but provides little background or analysis. It's the quickest read, so start here if you just want to get a quick sense of who this guy was and why he's so famous.
- The most in-depth remembrance so far comes from the New York Times' Robert D. McFadden, who provides deeper background on Schwarzkopf's career, not just the mixed analysis of his performance commanding in Operation Desert Storm, but also his work as a battalion commander in Vietnam, where he earned a reputation as "a commander willing to risk his life for his men."
- The Associated Press's obituary provides a more personal look at Schwarzkopf's life and person, including the fact that he never really liked the nickname "Stormin' Norman." The AP's item also includes the most comprehensive rundown of Schwarzkopf's more recent forays into public life, such as his charity work and his ambivalence about the 2003 Iraq invasion.
- Finally, Foreign Policy has rounded up the reactions to Schwarzkopf's death from current political players and his contemporaries such as George H.W. Bush and Colin Powell. Spoiler alert: It's all pretty fond stuff.