A commando raid by South African forces on an ANC safehouse in Zimbabwe uncover a plot to assassinate the top leadership of the government. Karl Vorster the minister of law and order is a hardline Afrikaner and opposed to the political reforms the current administration is pursuing. So he suppresses this information and actually helps it along by preventing the ANC from stopping the plot. The plot succeeds and kills the President and all his cabinet except Vorster. Vorster immediately forms a hardline government and returns to a policy of full Apartheid. He also launches an invasion of Namibia with the intent of reconquering it. Only the Cubans in Angola have not fully withdrawn and enter the conflict resulting in a stalemate.
As the war goes on Vorster’s repressive policies cause rebellions all over the country. The Cubans see an opportunity and launch a bold invasion from Zimbabwe and Mozambique with the goal of overthrowing the regime. Vorster uses a nuclear bomb to stop one of the invasion columns and the Cubans retaliate with chemical weapons. With world markets in turmoil over the growing chaos the US and Britain land troops to restore order and replace the Vorster regime. Now they have to seize the nuclear arsenal and race to beat the Cubans to the capital.
This was the second book that Larry Bond and his uncredited partner Patick Larkin wrote. This time set in the Apartheid era South Africa. Nowadays it is a bit dated with its Apartheid government and Cuban troops in Africa. Indeed the Apartheid government would soon cease to exist in a year and I think that by the time the book came out the Cubans had already withdrawn from Africa. Still while a bit far fetched the story was plausible at the time. Bond writes a sweeping tale that encompasses a wide range of characters American, Cuban and South African both black and white. It rolls forward with non stop excitement to a satisfying conclusion. Larry Bond was my favorite of the military genre at the time and this is one of his best works.
In this near future North Korea decides to invade the south. Transporting the heavy divisions will take time so light infantry divisions are send over. Captain Mark Isen is the leader of Charlie Company of the 25th Infantry Division. There job is to slow down the advancing North Korean forces long enough for the heavy divisions to be transported over. They manage to stop an armored force from advancing after it defeats a South Korean force in it’s first baptism of fire. Then they have to save a joy riding Colonel who gets trapped in a school. Then its on to Seoul to set up defenses. Things look grim as they are told to counterattack armored forces. Then the attack collapses and the division is airlifted north to block the retreating North Koreans from crossing the border. Here they have an epic final battle.
This was another book in the popular military books at the time. North Korea was a credible military threat when this came out so this was plausible scenario at the time. Ruggero a former captain in the Army knows his stuff. He has a real feel for the organization of an infantry company. The various people that compose it. The problems such as an epidemic of diarrhea after a logistics foul up loses the iodine tablets to purify water. The unreliability of some of the high tech gadgets. The battles are small affairs between men and tanks. Death comes at any moment such as a lieutenant who was a major character dying in an artillery barrage at the end of a chapter. He also shows us the homefront with scenes of Isen’s wife to show how a deployment would affect the family. There are also scenes from the enemies point of view. Still its mainly from the men in the divisions point of view the story is told.
This was his first book. He was teaching English at West Point where he met Tom Clancy who was visiting. He sent him the manuscript and Clancy liked it and sent to his publisher. Ruggero went on to write a handfull of books before moving on to something else. I have read another and feel that there will be future entries on this blog from this talented author.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.