In this alternate timeline the US sends in troops to defend Zaire from South Africans in 2005. A young lieutenant George Taylor pilots an Apache helicopter. On patrol his unit is attacked by South Africans using new advanced Japanese weapons. Taylor is shot down and must make journey through hostile territory. He arrives and finds out that the US has suffered a humiliating defeat. Later he contracts a new disease that horribly scars his face.
Jump forward to 2020. A decaying Soviet Union is on the brink of collapse. Islamic rebels aided by Japanese armed Iranians and Arabs are poised to take everything east of the Urals. Enter Colonel George Taylor commander of the US seventh cavalry. His regiment is clandestinely brought into the country to prevent the Soviet Collapse. In their arsenal is a new weapon system.
Initially the seventh cavalry scores stunning success against the Japanese equipped Islamic armies. The Japanese retaliate with a devastating weapon on a Soviet city. Now Taylor must make a desperate raid on Japanese headquarters in Baku to avoid defeat.
Now this is obviously a bit dated. When the paperback came out it was one month since the Soviet Union officially dissolved so it was already obsolete then. The evil Japanese were also a fixture in books and movies of the late eighties and early nineties. Their growing economic might make them great villains during this period. I work for a Japanese company and they never struck me as villainous. Anyway the recession they had and China’s rise has demoted them as the evil villains.
What isn’t obsolete is the concept of the US blundering into something without the proper forces and suffering a defeat. I feel that we are heading toward this scenario sometime in our not too distant future.
Ralph Peters is a former Army intelligence officer specializing in Soviet and East Europe. He has a real understanding for this part of the world and his characters are fully fleshed out. His descriptions are realistic and the scenario was highly plausible at the time he wrote this. I highly recommend this for the interesting world that thankfully did not materialize.