THE ZONE #1 HARD TARGET BY JAMES ROUCH

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tarzan

It is the second year of the war since the Warsaw Pact invaded. Now a strip of land extends through central Europe known as the Zone. Here the land is contaminated by chemical and nuclear weapons. NATO and the Soviets have come to an agreement to limit the fighting so it hasn’t extended to the rest of the world.

NATO expects a serious offensive by the 2nd Guards army. The key to the success of the offensive is the 97th Soviet Technical Support battalion. This unit is equipped to refit and repair damaged tanks and APCs. It has been located next to a refugee camp so it can’t be bombed. American Colonel Lee ‘Foul Mouth’ Lippencott organizes a joint operation of British and Americans to go behind the lines and destroy the 97th.

American Major Revell and British Sergeant Hyde take their misfits deep behind enemy lines. After an ambush destroys two thirds of the squad the rest take refuge in the refugee camp. There they join forces with a group of deserters from the East German border guards lead by the vicious Kurt and a mysterious beauty named Andrea. Together they assault the base in a final climactic confrontation.

This is one of those trashy adventure series that I loved as a kid. Now it would be very impractical for such a war to drag on in the real world. Of course as a thirteen year old that never even occurred to me. I was captivated by the colorful characters and over the top violence. The Soviets were just pure baddies with a take no prisoners attitude. I still enjoyed reading it after all these years. You just have to have a heavy suspension of disbelief.

The following is a list of the cast of characters in the joint strike force.
Major Revell- the American leader. He is a handsome maverick that plays by his own rules to get the job done by any means necessary.
Sgt. Hyde- British veteran. His face was horribly scarred and feels that the Zone is the only place he fits in.
Dooley- a loud obnoxious American but good with a bayonet.
Burke- an expert driver but one of the laziest people alive.
Clarence- the sniper. Cold and calculation. Lost his family to a Soviet bomber and now has put a price of one hundred commies for each member as payback. He is two thirds of the way to his goal.
Libby- gunner and in the Zone to search for his German fiancee Helga.
Collins- the new recruit. He was the bud of all jokes and dies in the assault.
Reinhart- the token black man. Takes a bullet between the eyes at the end.
Cohen- a hustler from Chicago. Scams anyone out of money in cards or other schemes. Carries all his wealth in a flak jacket.
Kurt- the leader of the Grepos. Stands for Grenze Polizei or border police. The guys who shot people trying to cross the border. A very untrustworthy and unsavory individual.
Andrea- an East German woman who is very beautiful. She has a deep hatred of communists and Russians in particular. Major Revell is obsessed with her.

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