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.
Kim Il-Jong the heir apparent to North Korea has devised a daring plan to reunite the Koreas. It starts with a highly placed agent in the South Korean government. This agent arranges a massacre by South Korean security personal on unarmed protesting students. What follows are economic sanctions and the planned withdrawal of all US military personnel.
A failed military coup further deteriorates the moral and fighting ability of the south. Just before Christmas the north launches Operation Red Phoenix the military conquest of the south. With lightning quickness the north advances and makes huge gains as the US/ROK try to organize a defense.
The book has a wide cast of characters but focuses on three. General McLaren the overall commander and his attempts to slow down the offensive and launch a successful counteroffensive. Second Lieutenant Kevin Little whose platoon is wiped out in the opening stages and must lead an ad hoc company. And Captain Tony Christopher an air force pilot of an F-16.
A daring plan of deception turns the tide of battle but the conflict threatens to drag in the Soviet Union and China for a much larger war.
This is the first book that I ever read by Larry Bond and fell in love with his style of writing. He is able to weave a large cast of realistic characters with real personalities and emotions. The scenario as written in the late 80’s and is highly plausible. The battles, tactics, political maneuvering and final outcome all come to a logical conclusion.
So as I write this some stuff has changed and some hasn’t. Obviously the Soviet Union is no more and the cold war tensions no longer exist. Korea is still a highly dangerous and unstable part of this world. North Korea isn’t a country, it’s a cult masquerading as a country. The third generation of this cult Kim Il-Tubby or whatever his name is has continued a belligerent policy to consolidate his power. Hopefully a second Korean War will stay fiction.