So Moscow is blown into a crater thanks to the bomb that was planted by Ripley Forte in the stolen super computer. The Soviets decide to retaliate and invade Texas. Once again they learn that messing with Texas is a bad idea as there invasion force is crushed. Now they have to come up with some other way to save their country. Luckily the Vice President is a KGB agent and he arranges for the top geniuses to get together and come up with a plan to defeat the US. The scientists thinking they are working for the US government come up with a plan. Then they are disposed of and the plan is implemented.
First they are going to use a chemical from their wheat called beta-3. The chemical makes people complacent and after spreading it in the air will be able to easily invade. So Ripley finding this out manages to take control of one of the SDI satellites and an accidental laser sets fire to the wheat fields. But this was the Soviets plan so it would be an excuse to set fire to the lignite mines in Siberia. This will cause a greenhouse effect that will flood the US coastline. They get an agreement to reduce the US military in exchange for putting out the fires. But Ripley gets in on the act by bribing third world officials to dump heated water from nuclear reactors into the ocean. This causes once again the greenhouse effect but panics the Soviets. Seems if it goes on long enough will cause another ice age and bury Russia under a massive glacier.
So Ripley manages to have a meeting between the officials of the US and Soviet governments to meet in Houston to discuss peace. Well through some complex maneuvering he manages to take both groups hostage and force them to govern from each others capital thus diminishing both governments effectiveness to rule. Oh and at the end he has a bacteria released in both capitals to erase the ink on papers and destroy the bureaucracy.
So the final book in the trilogy comes to a close with Ripley and the Texans not only saving the entire world but setting it free. Now the book is just full of absurdities. The cover portrays a real event where the Vice President and Vice Premier have a meeting in space via spacewalk. Why would you set up a meeting like that? It makes no sense and not really explained well. Also the President seems to be totally surprised to find out the guy he picked for the VP slot is a KGB mole. When in the last book it seemed he was aware of it. A bit of inconsistency on the part of the author. Still with the convoluted plot the books flows nicely and it is an interesting read.
I though I would discuss the authors background since it could be a story itself. He was a Marine in WWII and fought in all three theaters. Graduated Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service magna cum laude. He has since been a census enumerator, magazine editor and editorial consultant, judo master, taxi driver, farmer, public relations officer for an oil company, salesman, foreign correspondent, publisher’s representative, vice-president of a New York advertising agency, slaughterhouse skinner, captain of a Texas security organization, American Embassy press attache in Baghdad, copper miner and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at Miami University. His life sounds it would make its own interesting story. He has written both non-fiction and fiction including some other science fiction books. I think I would like to read those some day.
It is 2004 and America is facing a severe drought. The answer is to bring icebergs from Antarctica. The two companies that can do this are one run by Ripley Forte the son of Gwillam Forte. Ripley is bringing an iceberg into Texas that will water the mid-west. He has to contend with not only the logistical challenges but also those that want to sabotage the effort. One is the rival company run by his sister-in-law Jennifer Red Cloud. She wants to destroy Ripley and his company and will stop at nothing to sabotage him. There are also the Israeli refugee community in Nigerian. They see the continued success of the American farmer as continuing to feed their enemy the Soviet Union. Without the wheat they buy then the country would face rebellion and thus free their homeland. So they try three times to stop the iceberg. One by attacking with anthrax. This is thwarted by Ripley raiding a military base in Ghana for anti-air missiles. The second by having three oil tankers release their oil and setting it on fire. This is stopped by a Soviet nuclear explosion that opens a hole in the fire. The Soviets have an interest in Ripley succeeding. Finally the iceberg is to be blown up with a nuclear bomb which is found just in time. Amid this is the Machiavellian maneuverings of a congressman who is seeking the presidency and the current President.
So the second in the series from Da Cruz takes a whole different path. It is actually more of a straightforward thriller with a ton of heavy political intrigue. The Soviets are not the enemy and actually help out. Texas plays very little in this story. The big action is the Israeli refugees in Nigeria. Somehow Nigeria is not in my top fifty list of countries the Jews would end up in if Israel falls. The other is the political antics that are downright Byzantine. The congressman is using the same political consultant as the President. The President is working to set up the congressman as a weak candidate. Oh and the congressman is a KGB agent. Somehow he ends up the running mate of the President. The President knows he is a KGB agent but uses the move to take him out of the running. He also fakes a cancer to convince the congressman that he will die and be President soon when in fact he he being set up for obscurity. Confused. Surprisingly Da Cruz keeps it understandable and interesting.
Oh and there is a subplot of a KGB general trying to get a supercomputer from Ripley. He gets it but Ripley wired it with the nuclear bomb he disarmed and it blows up Moscow. Oh and this was the plan of the KGB general to get back for being stuck in an underground bunker instead of more desirable post. Also the weird relationship with Ripley and Red Cloud which starts are rape and ends in love. Plus we find out all sorts of fun facts about water. That is takes 185,000 gallons to manufacture the paper in a Bible or 15,000 for a hamburger. This is a wild book with a lot of twists and turns but makes for an interesting read.
Gwillam Forte is a fourteen year old runaway in 1943. Arrested while working in a bordello a police sergeant cons the boy into joining the navy so as to avoid problems his arrest could cause. So the young Forte lies about his age and is eventually assigned to the U.S.S. Texas. At the battle of Okinawa a kamikaze attack leaves the boy a triple amputee with both legs and his right hand gone. Recovering in a hospital he finds help from an old black veteran of WWI and the old woman who runs the library. He goes on to become a billionaire making his fortune in real estate and oil.
So in 1994 his friend the governor of Texas want him to help for a future run for the senate. He gets him to agree to refurbish the old battleship Texas in time for the millennium celebration in 2000. Well things get worst in the world. By 1998 The Soviets are winning the cold war and have control over most of Europe, South American, Africa and Asia. They propose a new treaty called the Washington Protocols. In it they would take over providing manufactured goods to the third world while the U.S. would provide agriculture. On the surface it seems peaceful but the Soviets have a secret plan. They hope as the country turns to an agricultural economy the industry will deteriorate to a point where no weapons could be manufactured. Then with the Soviet industry intact they could easily invade. The plan calls for fleets to visit the country and the Soviet Seventeenth Fleet is making its rounds. In San Diego the sailors get out of hand and cause a mess. Texas wants the President to rescind the invitation but to do so would get him impeached by a peace at any price public. So Texas votes to succeed if the fleet enters its waters. The Soviets attack the Texans using nerve gas and kill 500,000. It seems they are unstoppable. Only the refurbished Texas stands in the way.
Saturday Night Live has a sketch with Mike Myers as a proprietor of the Scottish Shop. The motto was if it wasn’t Scottish its CRAP!! Well you could substitute Texas for Scottish an you would have the motto for this book. It is unapologetically pro Texas. Now this book is a bit dated with the Soviets and their taking over most of the world. It is also real over the top with the explosions of the underground caverns causing tsumanis that take out most of the fleet. The second one has the old battleship riding in on top like a surfer and proceeds to take out the surviving capital ships. Still it is also fun and enjoyable. You really root for the Texans after they are so brutally attacked and get a great feeling when the Soviet fleet is so utterly destroyed. Also the story of Gwillam Forte is a very moving one. His life is inspiring and you get a very personal investment in him succeeding. The first of a trilogy of books.
It is the calm before the storm. At the end of 1967 it seems the war is winding down. Soon the General Offensive will be launched on the Tet holiday. The 302nd North Vietnamese Division has moved to the province of Song Nhanh to participate in the offensive and planned uprising. Lead by General Vo Le Duan who has doubts about the wisdom of this plan but is committed to it. Major Shannon on a patrol of the Cambodian border witnesses the arrival of the division but the American leadership doesn’t want to hear about it as it goes against the official narrative that the war is already won. Soon Vietnamese and Americans will clash in the provincial capital.
This is probably the finest Vietnam War fiction book that I have ever read. The setting is the fictional province and city of Song Nhanh. Both the 203rd NVA and 12th US Army Divisions are fictional units. The setting is an amalgamation of parts of the real Tet offensive. What really makes this story is the intricate detail of all the characters both Vietnamese and American for the generals to the lowliest private. The action is intense and realistic. Both sides are treated fairly. The sense that you get from this book is how all the soldiers are just caught up in events and doing their best to survive. Even the generals seem to have little control over the events. For Duan it is the old men who are desperate to see the south liberated before they die. They are deaf to the possibility that the people will not rise up. For the Americans its the official narrative that the President pushes that the war is already won.
Chris Bunch and Allan Cole were known for mostly space opera sci-fi so this was something new for them. The biography of the authors is that they are both journalists and friends since high school. One was in Vietnam although didn’t say if a soldier or journalist. A lot of research went into this and it clearly shows that the writers have a good understanding of the people during the war. A good book to read if you are interested in the Vietnam War and the Tet offensive.