THE GUARDIANS TRIAL BY FIRE BY RICHARD AUSTIN

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Copyright 1985.

It is two weeks after the One-Day War. The worst is over and the fallout is receding. Yet a general breakdown of society continues. In Oklahoma a wild eyed prophet emerges. Josiah Coffin claims to be a messenger from God and the survivors fall under his sway. His Church of the New Dispensation gains an important convert in one Nathan Bedford Forrest Smith a rich televangelist who has a well stocked compound in Oklahoma City. Using his resources his gospel is spread all across the country.

Meanwhile in Europe Chairman Maximov consolidates his hold on the Federated States of Europe. He has the Internationalist Council killed and made to look like a terrorist attack. Yet he has problems as Europe’s industry is destroyed and basic food and supplies are becoming critical. He needs the Blueprint for Renewal. This is what the Guardians are now searching for. In their V-450 armored car called Mobile One they set out from the secret underground base called Heartland in Iowa. The first lead takes them to Kansas City and a Dr. Okeda. The university he is at is under siege by followers of Coffin. Okeda is killed by the mob so the Guardians next stop is Denver.

An administrator is the next possible link to the Blueprint. Unfortunately he has converted to the Church of the New Dispensation and thrown open the doors to the Federal Center. Trajan the head of the Roman faction that took over the CIA and is a minion of Maximov has infiltrated the cult. He ambushes the Guardians and both Mckay and Sloane are left to die in a nuclear crater that took out Colorado Springs. Luckily the other two survived and rescued them. They find the final possible member on their list at a survivalist group in the San Luis Valley. Trajan knows this and the Brothers of Mercy the enforces of the church are launching a crusade against the valley. They have nerve gas captured from an army depot and the survivalists are doomed unless the Guardians can kill the mad prophet put an end to the crusade.

The second book in the series is even better than the first. It sets up that the Guardians main mission will be to search for the Blueprint. It will be sort of like a puzzle. We also get to see how the country is coming along. In places like Kansas City the mayor has things under control but still didn’t want to get involved with antagonizing the New Dispensation Church. Other places like Denver were hit hard and completely destroyed. Another interesting thing is that in the nineties the author envisioned these groups known as road gypsies. They were inspired by the Mad Max movies to play road warriors with mohawks and armored up dune buggies. They are living the dream after the war with pillaging and raping. They are recruited by the New Dispensation and become enforcers for them.

I enjoyed the concept of a religious cult springing up after the nuclear war. This seems like a likely possibility and Josiah Coffin is a completely crackers type of prophet who starts believing in human sacrifice. The Church continues on in Reverend Smith and his stronghold in Oklahoma. They are a problem for the Guardians throughout this series. This was a great series with characters who had their own personalities that were believable and a world that was well thought through and also believable. One of my favorites.

THE GUARDIANS BY RICHARD AUSTIN

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Copyright 1985.

It is the nineties and tensions between the U.S. and Soviets have been rising. An incident on the East German border involving a family escaping to the west starts a Soviet attack. The attack falters and soon is driven back. This setback starts a chain of events. China invades Siberia and the various ethnic groups rise up in rebellion. The Soviets then launch a nuclear strike against America starting the One-Day War. Millions are dead and the country is in ruins.

The Guardians are a four man team assigned to escort the President to a secure complex in Iowa. President Lowell is killed on Air Force One during the nuclear strike. Now an untested Vice-President MacGregor is sworn in. The Guardians must escort him in armored cars through a post-nuclear America. Armed mobs and the collapse of the rule of law. Radioactive fallout and roads clogged with refugees. In addition a faction of the CIA is trying to take over the country and is out the capture the President. At the end they must fight a power mad National Guard colonel who is setting up his own fiefdom.

This is one of my favorites from the eighties. The Guardians were a four man team formed from a member of each armed services. After safely delivering the President they find out their real mission. There is a Blueprint for Renewal that is designed to rebuild America after a nuclear war. Key experts and facilities are scattered around the country. Unfortunately the Blueprint was lost when the President’s airplane went down and they must now piece together clues to find it. This series was inspired by a role-playing game from the seventies called The Morrow Project.

The series was written by Victor Milan under a pen name. He really creates a detailed world of the near future. A world that the U.S. is in an economic decline and engaged in shadow wars all throughout the world. The main villain is Yevgeny Maximov a sort of George Soros type financier. A Ukrainian immigrant who heads the shadowy Internationalist Council. He has already taken over Europe and formed the Federated States of Europe. He is behind the CIA coup and also wants the Blueprint. A very enjoyable series that starts out strong. So here are the Guardians:

Lt. Willian McKay USMC. The leader of the team. Son of a blue collar family from Pittsburgh and expert in the shadow wars fought in the Middle East. His family has a long tradition of service in the Marines and McKay is a beer drinking brawler who loves a good fight. Primary weapon is a Maremont M-60 machine gun.

Commader Samuel Sloan USN. A graduate of Annapolis and hero of the Winston-Salem, a cruiser attacked by Libyan missile boats. When the command bridge was hit killing the senior officers he assumed command and saved his ship. He is an expert in all boats and computers and electronics. His primary weapon is a Galil assault rifle with a M-203 grenade launcher.

Lt. Thomas Rogers US Army. A green beret who has fought in clandestine wars throughout the world. An expert in insurgency and the team’s medic. His weapon is a Galil assault rifle.

Lt. Casey Wilson USAF. A fighter pilot who is the first ace since Korea. He shot down five MIG’s with his F-16 during an attack on Yemen. A laid back Californian who is an expert mechanic and sniper. Primary weapon is an M-40 sniper rifle.

CAMP ZERO BOOK I BY SEAN ELLIS

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Copyright 2016.

It has been decided that the children of the Rourke family needs to learn basic survival skills. What with the world under threat from Neo-Nazis, Russians and space aliens the world is no longer a safe place. So its off to the John Thomas Rourke Survival Academy in west Texas. There the six young kids ranging from nine to sixteen can learn the basics of survival. Sent out to Camp Zero named because you will count the days until its over. The kids start learning the basics. How to pitch a tent. How to forage or hunt for food. Unarmed combat, and other basic survival skills. The kids adapt in various ways to the training. Some love it and other hate it.

Still being a Rourke kid gives one a sense of paranoia. What with everyone out to get your family. They find that two students who look too old and are trying to become their buddies are not who they seem to be. A tragic death in a climbing accident sets off a chain of events that reveal the camp has been infiltrated by a group of assassins. Young kids called Starling who have been trained to be deadly killers are now after them. The Rourke children will need to put to use the skills they learned to survive these vicious killers.

This is where they decided to take the Survivalist Series into the lucrative YA market. So here we have the teenage children getting their own series. I was a little skeptical that this would work. I was surprised how into the story I became. Ellis has each chapter told from the perspective of one of the Rourke children and it flowed naturally. The story starts out a little slow but once the Starlings reveal themselves and attack that’s were this book really picks up.

Now I don’t know how successful this series will be in attracting young people. My guess its being read by the Survivalist fans like me who are a bit older. I also don’t know how you can find a way to keep a whole series going about kids at a survival camp. It ends with a psychologist named Dr. Starling breaking out the serial killer that kidnapped the kids so this shadowy group is not done with the Rourke kids. This is a book I believe that all ages will enjoy and look forward to the next one.

VIETNAM: GROUND ZERO RECON BY ERIC HELM

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Copyright 1990.

Something big is going on in the Three Rivers Secret Zone in Laos. Several special forces recon missions have been ambushed and disappeared. A rescue mission finds the remains of one group. Besides the normal mutilations that the NVA do to corpses one stands out. A Caucasian man is among the corpses whose head and hands were cut off. A search of one of the Green Berets finds a Soviet paratrooper badge hidden in his mouth. It looks like the team captured a Soviet paratrooper and the NVA made sure the body couldn’t be identified. It looks like the Soviets have an active military presence in Laos and the Americans are very interested in finding out why.

So Captain Gerber and Sgt. Fetterman are put in charge of a team to go in and find out why the Soviets are in Laos. They parachute in and are to meet up with a former French Foreign Legionnaire who has a plantation and works for the CIA. When they arrive they find that their contact has mysteriously been killed and they must rely on his beautiful widow. The widow turns out to be an enemy agent and the team discover the Soviets have established a radar base to track American aircraft.

So this is the final book in the series. As we go into the nineties the interest in the Vietnam war was fading. After thirty-six books they were probably running out of story ideas and it was starting to show. Still this book was a solid effort and I think the series went out on a strong note. This was a very interesting series. While the quality varied as you would expect in such a long series most of the books were good. This was actually a sort of history series masquerading as a men’s adventure series. The war was explored from its early days of 1964 to 1968. It covered both North and South Vietnam as well as Cambodia and Laos. Even an adventure in Hong Kong. It explored the various aspects like counterinsurgency and the politics that went on. The CIA programs, the drug trade and corruption in the South Vietnamese government. How Tet affected the war with the NVA taking over from the decimated VC. You learned little tidbits like ham and lime beans were the worst C-ration. They fought NVA, VC, Pathet Lao, renegade Cambodians, The Red Chinese and even Soviet soldiers. This was definitely one of the best Vietnam War series to come out of the eighties.

VIETNAM: GROUND ZERO SNIPER BY ERIC HELMS

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Copyright 1990.

A well planted CIA spy has managed to come back with important information that could change the course of the war. The Chinese are ready to commit 100,000 troops to protect the Ho Chi Minh Trail. This would free up much needed NVA troops to wage the war in the south. So Captain Gerber and Sgt. Fetterman are put in charge of a mission to stop this. Senior military officers of both the NVA and Chinese PLA are going to meet in a village in Laos to sign the agreement. Gerber is to lead a team with a Marine sniper to take out this delegation. Gerber has worries about this mission. The sniper is a nineteen year old with over twenty confirmed kills in just two months. Yet he has dreams about the first person he killed a fifteen year old girl running supplies for the VC. He also finds out their old nemesis the Chinese officer that tried to kill them in Hong Kong is still alive and leading the security. He has brought in the most decorated sniper in the NVA to guard the ceremony. Now two of the best snipers are going head to head.

This is the fifth and final Super books in this series. Once again they manage to keep the action interesting with the expanded format. This is basically the story of two snipers. Corporal just promoted to Sgt. Robert Corbett. A nineteen year old with an uncanny accuracy. He also has disturbing dreams and wonders if what he is doing is right. The other is Sgt. Duc Van Co of the People’s Army of Vietnam. He has recently scored 85 kills giving him the highest kills in the NVA army. They also decided to bring back their old nemesis the Chinese officer from the beginning of this series. He was presumed killed in the Hong Kong adventure but left it open that he could have survived. Nice to see they didn’t forget that and gave some closure concerning this character. A very good story for the last of the super sized books.

VIETNAM: GROUND ZERO SPIKE BY ERIC HELM

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Copyright 1990.

The rail yard at Son Tay is a major transit point for arms and ammunition coming from China. It’s close proximity to the Chinese border makes a B-52 strike not politically viable. So Captain Gerber and Sgt. Fetterman are tasked to go in and destroy it. With two other Green Berets they form a Spike team and parachute into the north. There they hook up with two Kit Carson Scouts of questionable loyalty. Luckily the fuel tanks are situated on a hill overlooking the rail yard so they can unleash fuel into the site destroying it completely.

So another mission into the north. This time they seem to have a fairly easy time taking out their target. In fact they do a good job of destroying the place. Not much going on in this story otherwise. The backstory of the two men that join them is fairly interesting. One is a veteran on clandestine operations in South and Central America who lost his wife and daughters to a drunk driver. The other has a cheating wife at home who married him for the possibility of getting the guys life insurance. In a twist she is the one who dies in a car accident and he gets the life insurance money.

There are also some interesting Vietnamese. The two Kit Carson scouts that Gerber doesn’t trust get captured and tortured by a KGB agent. One manages to escape and ends up sacrificing himself so the team can escape. Another is Bicycle Chain Tran a NVA officer candidate. He got his name because he hit drunk American soldiers with a bicycle chain. Otherwise not much happens in the book. They wander around. They shoot a tiger for no reason. I think the idea well was starting to run dry for this series. Not an uninteresting book just nothing really stood out about this story.

VIETNAM: GROUND ZERO WARLORD BY ERIC HELM

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Copyright 1990.

Captain Gerber and Sgt. Fetterman are assigned an A-team (not that A-team) for their new assignment. They are part of Operation Hard Rain. The mission is to go into Laos and recruit the native Hmong. They will find a suitable location for a new Air Force observation post. This post will guide airstrikes on the Ho Chi Minh trail and into North Vietnam. Sgt. Fetterman has experience with the local tribe. He was actually adopted by the chief.

Now Fetterman has some reservations about the mission. Last time they abandoned the Hmong and he feels that they are being set up again. He does reconnect with them and is made the war chief of the tribe. Known as the White Porcupine he leads the Hmong on successful missions against the Pathet Lao and NVA. The success bring unwanted attention and the village is attacked by a regiment of Pathet Lao and NVA. It looks grim for Fetterman’s adopted people.

So this book is about the secret war in Laos. It is dedicated to the 300,000 who fought for the Americans and 30,000 who died. The author who wrote this seemed to have good knowledge about the Hmong. This is a sad story because the Hmong do get nearly wiped out as they did in real life. That is why we have so many Hmong here in Wisconsin. A real interesting and action packed story. Explored a new side to the conflict.