RED PHOENIX BURNING BY LARRY BOND AND CHRIS CARLSON

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Copyright 2016.

It is July 2015 in this alternate world where a second Korean war was fought in 1989 as chronicled in Red Phoenix. That war saw an end where the Chinese brokered a ceasefire and Kim Jong-il was executed by the military. Under the Chinese his son Kim Jong-um was designated the successor. His regency would be under his aunt and uncle until he reached the age of 28. So basically this world is not much different then our own. North Korea is still a basket case of a nation under the pudgy man-child with a bad haircut. There are many factions in North Korea that are always vying for control. An appointment to a head of the Department of the Economy of a powerful individual threatens the balance of power. So a military coup is initiated by a faction in the military. An explosion kills most of Kim Jong-un’s backers at a state dinner but he manages to survive. A bloodbath is in the making as he takes revenge but while addressing the nation from his underground bunker the conspirators succeed in releasing a VX nerve gas on him. So his nation and all the world watches as he dies in a gruesome manner on TV. Now all the factions are vying for power and a bloody civil war breaks out. Add to this the South Koreans entering to unite the country and the Chinese also getting involved under the pretext to find the north’s WMDs. The world stands on the brink of a wider war as the dying regime threatens to strike out with its Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Larry Bond actually wrote a sequel to his enjoyable Korean War novel. Basically the world and situation in Korea is unchanged in spite of this war. It was an excuse to put the characters from the original novel into this book. The three main ones are Tony Christopher the F-16 pilot who is now a brigadier general. Kevin Little the young lieutenant who is now a colonel and Lt.Rhee who is also a colonel in charge of the Ghost Brigade a special forces unit. There are some children of the characters. Chee Ho-jin the son of the North Korean general who was made a scapegoat for the wars failure. His family were all declared traitors and now he works for the Russians as a spy to get back at the regime. Kary Fowler who is the daughter of the national security adviser from the first book. She works as a Christian missionary in the north. The idea of this fictional war surprisingly fits well into the narrative of the story. While it doesn’t really do anything for the story it also doesn’t distract and you can read this book without reading the first one.

So the authors portray a North Korea were the monolithic rule of one man is a facade. That there are actually many factions constantly vying for influence. A country that is rife with corruption as the ordinary people must resort to bribes as a daily routine of life just to survive. Where the elite live in extravagance financed by criminal activity such as drugs to finance their lifestyles. This was a very insightful book in showing the functioning of the North Korean society. It is also a timely one as once again North Korea is in the news. Threatening Guam which was actually attacked with nerve gas missiles in the book. There was a happy ending to this book which we can only hope is the same in the real world.

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TEAM YANKEE BY HAROLD COYLE

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Copyright 1987.

Team Yankee is a company sized army unit in West Germany. It consists of two platoons of M-1 Abrams tanks and a platoon of mechanized infantry. Commanded by Captain Sean Bannon this team composed of seventy-nine men with twenty-five million worth of equipment has trained for one goal to fight the armed forces of the Warsaw Pact. In this story the unthinkable happens and war breaks out between NATO and the Soviets. Now this untried unit will put its training to use. We follow this unit throughout the conflict with various elements of the Warsaw Pact and get to know the cross section of men that make up this unit.

There is Uleski the XO who is an easy going jokester that turns cold and hard after seeing this men killed. Garger a green lieutenant that is a perennial screw-up that becomes a cool professional under fire. Polger the veteran of Korea and Vietnam that sees a final chance for glory for his beloved army. These men fight for fourteen days to the final ending of this conflict.

This is Harold Coyle’s first book and established him as a popular writer of military fiction. He was at this time an active major in an armor unit. The writing shows a clear understanding of a tank unit in the 1980’s. You get a real feel for the tactics and life in a tank. The battle scenes come to life and you can feel the rush of excitement in combat. The book concentrates on the view point of the team. What we learn of the big picture in the conflict is learned in bits and pieces that our characters learn. Thus you get an intimate feel for the men. Definitely an enjoyable book and highly recommended for what it feels like to be in a modern US army tank unit.

WWIII: BEHIND THE LINES TARGET IRAN BY JAMES B. ADAIR AND GORDON ROTTMAN

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Copyright 1991.

After their victory in West Germany the Soviets turn their attention south to Iran. The country is in the midst of a civil war between the Soviet backed government and Muslim hardline fundamentalists. The Soviets come in on the government’s side with the goal of controlling the Iranian oilfields and access to the Persian Gulf. The Americans send a force to stop them.

The rebel Iranians are able to capture two nuclear armed Scud missiles from the Soviets. Now Major Jinx and BJ must lead a team to destroy these missiles before they’re launched and cause a larger nuclear conflagration. Colonel Bodnya and his Spetsnaz are also looking for the missiles. The wild card is a group of rebel Kurds that are nominally allied to the Americans but have an agenda all their own.

The final book in the WWIII behind the lines was another fun read. All the books took place in a different area of the world giving the series a fresh new story every book. Also the Soviets are always coming out the winners in these books which was not usually the case for adventure books of the time. It gave them a sense of realism.

Of course by 1991 the Soviet Union was on its last leg. The series was a victim of fast changing world events and was dated when it first came out. I think it would of had more success if it started five years earlier. It’s a shame since I really enjoyed this new world they created and would have liked to see where it went.

WWIII: BEHIND THE LINES TARGET NUKE BY JAMES B. ADAIR AND GORDON ROTTMAN

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Copyright 1990.

The second book in the series jumps right into the action from the first. The Soviets have unleashed Operation Summer Harvest and invaded West Germany. Our heroes Jinx and BJ find themselves leading special ops teams deep inside East Germany. Major Bodnya and his surviving spetsnaz return to a heroes welcome back home. The unit is given the title 800th Guards Special Purpose Battalion. The first unit to be elevated to guards status since the Great Patriotic War. In no time he and this troops are assigned to East Germany to hunt down the NATO teams operating behind the lines.

The war is going badly for NATO and the decision to use nuclear attacks to stop the Soviets results in a devastating counterattack. The two sides agree to a nuclear moratorium. Nuclear Demolition Teams operating inside East Germany are recalled. All but one team 032A does not respond. Jinx and BJ must lead a team to find 032A and stop them from detonating their device otherwise it could start a bigger war.

The second book in this series deals with special forces action in East Germany. It has a real grasp of the various tactics and security forces that would be encountered. Another solid book that looks at special operations in East Germany from both the American and Soviet viewpoints.

WWIII: BEHIND THE LINES TARGET TEXAS BY JAMES B. ADAIR AND GORDON ROTTMAN

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$_57

Copyright 1990

In this alternate timeline Gorbachev dies in a mysterious plane accident. The new regime puts a halt to all the reforms. This still doesn’t change the fact that the economy is a total mess. The only thing in good shape is the military. War is the only thing that will restore the motherland. Operation Summer Harvest is set to begin on Christmas day.

The first target is Fort Hood, Texas. A crack team of Spetsnaz lead by Major Bodnya and Ensign Kovpak must infiltrate Texas and destroy the armor critical to resupplying the war in Europe. Only CIA agent Richard ‘Jinx’ Jenkins has discovered the plan while raiding their training camp in Nicaragua. With his friend Sgt. B.J. Hickey the two try to convince their government of the impending attack.

I remember when reading this back in 1990 that it was a bit dated. I mean now of course its dated but when the book came out the Berlin Wall had fallen, the Soviets were out of Afghanistan and the Nicaragua war was winding down. I suppose the events were still possibly but world events were outpacing the authors story.

Still it is a very enjoyable book. The authors clearly have a feel for special forces operations. The Spetsnaz infiltration tactics were plausible and it was a fast paced story. I enjoyed it now as I did back in 1990 as a sort of nostalgia for the 80’s.

THE ZONE #9 BODY COUNT BY JAMES ROUCH

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Copyright 1990.

Major Revell and his Special Combat Company are on leave in Munich. Munich is just on the edge of the Zone and is a major armaments production center for the war effort. On the night they are getting ready to go back on assignment a Soviet transport breaks through the air defenses. It drops two hundred highly trained Spetsnaz commandos into the city. Their job is to cause massive disruption to the city and cripple the war effort.

Revell and his SCC are the only available men to fight them. They must go from one hot spot in the city to another. They find themselves fighting among innocent civilians. Mistakes are made and innocents die, property destroyed. The SCC not only battle the Spetsnaz but their own leadership. Revell in disgust at the end decides to desert and take his men into the Zone to fight his own way.

I love the Bavarians. World War III is going on and they still find time for their Oktoberfest. Well this is the last of the Zone books published. The series lasted for ten years and actually outlasted the Warsaw Pact. The Soviet Union would follow a year later so world events were making this series obsolete. I have heard of a tenth book called Death March. Wikipedia lists it as coming out in 2007 but only as a pdf from an Australian company. Amazon does list the nine books available as either print or kindle. It also sounds that Death March doesn’t continue from Body Count since many characters that died in past books are in it. Hopefully some day I might get the chance to read Death March.

The series was your typical Zebra Men’s Adventure book series. Lots of action and sex designed to appeal to young teens and twentysomethings. Now the whole setup of a prolonged engagement in Western Europe for over three years is neither politically or economically feasible. The Soviets were little more than cardboard cutout villains and the plots were wildly improbable.

Still as a young teenager I really enjoyed the books. They were fast paced and populated with a wide variety of larger than life characters. After all these years I still found it enjoyable and it brought back some great memories. I find it appropriate how it ended. I can see these goofy characters continuing their never ending war in the Zone. So I bid adieu to Major Revell, Sgt. Hyde, Psycho Andrea, Obnoxious Dooley, Hillbilly Ripper and Goldbricking Burke. They fade into the mists of history and my childhood.

THE ZONE #8 CIVILIAN SLAUGHTER BY JAMES ROUCH

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Copyright 1989.
A shaky truce has been called in the Zone. Major Revell and his Special Combat Company are not in favor with the higher ups and assigned mundane guard duty. Their prisoners are from the worst of the Russian POWS, criminals, murders and such. Stripped of there heavy armor and equipment they must supervise these prisoners in rebuilding roads in a quiet sector of the Zone.

They settle in for the mundane duty but soon make a gruesome discovery. Over two thousand refugees are found buried, victims of a massacre. Revell’s reports lead to a high ranking general visiting with orders to keep silent. The bodies are disposed of and all trace of their existence covered up. The politicians do not want to upset the truce so they cover up the incident. If Revell continues to press the issue he is threatened with court martial and the disbandment of his men.

The massacre was done by the KGB Disciplinary Battalion 717 nicknamed ‘Beria’s sons’. A unit composed of the dregs of the KGB. It is run by a Colonel Tarkovski the most depraved human that ever lived. Tarkovski launches a raid that kills several of the SCC. Later the SCC finds another hundred victims of the KGB, all of them little children.

Revell and his men have had enough. They decide to administer their own brand of justice and to hell with the consequences.

The eighth book in the series is a sort of leisurely read. Not a lot of action it mostly deals with the indifference and cynicism of politicians. Something that there is no shortage of in the real world. You get a feeling of the futility of the war they are waging and that it seems to have no end.

The company gains some new characters.
Sampson the medic who dedicates his free time in helping the refugees.
Garett the practical joker and clown
Ackerman a first rate scrounger
The losses
Thorne dies in the beginning when they attack a convoy.
Clarence the sniper that was one of the original crew. He make his goal of killing 100 communist for each of his family that was killed. Decides he has had enough and eats a bullet. A very disturbed man who anyone could see was destined to kill himself.