VORTEX BY LARRY BOND

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Copyright 1991.

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 Only the Cubans in Angola have not fully withdrawn and enter the conflict resulting in a stalemate.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government would soon cease to exist in a year and I think that by the time the book came out the Cubans had already withdrawn from Africa.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.

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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.

RED PHOENIX BY LARRY BOND

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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.

RED STORM RISING BY TOM CLANCY

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Three radical Moslems from Azerbaijan manage to destroy a major oil refinery in Siberia. The loss of this refinery will cut by 80% the oil production in the Soviet Union. Faced with this shortfall the Politburo decides it must seize the oil fields of Iran. To neutralize NATO they form a daring military plan called Red Storm. If involves a crash military buildup and fabricated dispute to knock West Germany out of the NATO alliance.

When the Soviets launch their attack they seize Iceland to prevent the resupply of NATO forces. What follows is the naval battle for control of the north Atlantic. NATO after some setbacks gains the upper hand and the world is brought to the brink of nuclear war.

This book mainly deals with the naval aspect of a hypothetical NATO-Warsaw Pact conflict. Larry Bond who was not credited as a co-author is a former Naval intelligence officer. He created the strategic naval simulation Harpoon which I spent much of my youth playing. The naval strategies and equipment are authentically portrayed and the story is exciting and fast paced. I thought it was a very plausible scenario that could have happened at the time.

Reading this book brought back memories of those days. It’s hard to believe that the Soviet Union no longer exists. That the world was divided into these two camps and nuclear annihilation was just a push button away.