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Old 05-11-2009, 08:36 AM
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Default OT - Book (Fiction) Review/Recommendations Thread

Since we are a pretty well read group I thought we could share our opinions on any books we read recently. As the header indicates any subject books are allowed for review not just Post Apocalyptic. Please feel free to post anything you think might be of interest to our users.

If any book spurs a vigorous discussion I will spawn a new thread and put the links below.
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Old 05-11-2009, 11:02 AM
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  • The Last Centurion- John Ringo
  • The Stand- Stephen King
  • Alas, Babylon- Pat Frank
  • The Third World War and The Third World War, The Untold Story- Sir John Hackett
  • Team Yankee by Harold Coyle
  • Red Army and The War in 2020 by Ralph Peters
  • Arc Light by Eric Harry
  • World War Z by Max Brooks (not the Zombies, but the struggle of governments to make decisions in crisis)
  • Down to a Sunless Sea by David Graham
  • The Last Ship by William Brinkley
  • Lucifer's Hammer by Niven and Pournelle
  • Red Storm Rising- by Tom Clancy
  • The War That Never Was- by Michael A. Palmer
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Old 05-11-2009, 04:16 PM
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Mentioned above:
Read most of those listed, but most have been out for a while, just commenting on the recent novels

The Last Centurion- John Ringo Read this a little while back. A light EOTWAWKI scenario, but a good story

World War Z by Max Brooks The story was good, but not very accurate on military matters.

The Last Ship by William Brinkley Just got around to reading this a a few months ago, depressing to say the least.


Recently Read:
Airship Nine by Thomas H. Block Very similar story to The Last Ship, with EOTWAWKI scenario just as bleak

Proud Legions by John Antal Modern Korean war scenario
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Old 05-11-2009, 09:06 PM
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Read most of the above, but here's a few more:

Trinity's Child (from which the movie By Dawn's Early Light was based)

First Clash: Combat Close Up in World War III-the Canadian 4th Mech Brigade vs. the Russians in West Germany (there was a sequel but I haven't found it-yet)

Trial by Fire and The Ten Thousand: two more by Harold Coyle

The Warbirds and Force of Eagles by Richard Herman

Choosers of the Slain, Sea Strike, Sea Fighter, and Target Lock by James H. Cobb (the Amanda Garrett books)

World War III-the novelization of the 1982 Miniseries with Rock Hudson as the President and Brian Keith as the Soviet Premier.
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Old 05-12-2009, 01:28 AM
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Brother in the land : Robert Swindells. Story of survivors of a nuclear war in the UK. Written as a book for teens/young adults, but still very very good. Try and pick up an early copy before the ending was rewritten for a 'happy ending'.

War Day : Whitley Streiber & James Kunetka. Story of a journey across America in the aftermath of a limited nuclear war. Great read.

Children of the Dust : Louise Lawrence. Story of 3 generations of survivors after a nuclear war in the UK.

I'll add some more later.
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Old 05-12-2009, 02:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TiggerCCW UK
Brother in the land : Robert Swindells. Story of survivors of a nuclear war in the UK. Written as a book for teens/young adults, but still very very good. Try and pick up an early copy before the ending was rewritten for a 'happy ending'.
I think we've posted about this before and I've been wondering ever since, which version I read (we're talking probably more than 20 years ago).

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Originally Posted by TiggerCCW UK
Children of the Dust : Louise Lawrence. Story of 3 generations of survivors after a nuclear war in the UK.
I second this one.

My first suggestion for this thread is - Anything written by Peter Hamilton. The man is a sci fi god.
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Old 09-11-2009, 02:55 AM
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Children of the Dust : Louise Lawrence. Story of 3 generations of survivors after a nuclear war in the UK.
Just read this - very good imo, written in mid-80s so gives a real feel for the time even if it has inaccuracies.
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Old 05-17-2009, 06:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Jason Weiser
  • Red Army and The War in 2020 by Ralph Peters
I really enjoyed Red Army when it came out - a real antidote to the "our technology and better training is going to trounce their brute force" attitude of so many other books from the period. The books hypothesis is essentially what if the Russian Army performed pretty much as intended against NATO in Europe?

Looking him up on Amazon he also writes ACW detective fiction as Owen Parry as well as more factual military / political analysis (I'm assuming this is the same guy). I'll be keeping a look out for War In 2020.

Off the WWIII / EOTWAWKI genre I've particularly enjoyed reading a couple of thrillers by a Swedish author Stieg Larsson, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and The Girl Who Played With Fire - I'm mortified that the final volume, The Girl Who Kicked Over A Hornets Nest will not be translated into English and published until January 2010.

I'd also highly recommend A Sense Of Honour by James Webb about cadets at Annapolis in the closing days of Vietnam (Webb also wrote Fields Of Fire, a fictionalised memoir of his tour in Vietnam which is extremely good) and Something To Die For which revisits one of the central characters from A Sense Of Honour when he is serving as CO of an MEU operating in the Horn of Africa.
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Old 07-24-2009, 03:23 PM
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I've recently read two novels about the post-apoc backround, one of them discovered thanks to this forum. The first one is "The road", by Cormac McCarthy. Strangely I was planning to buy it trough Amazon after reading a recommendation from Kato but while I was bored in the queue of the supermarket I realized that the unknown novel exposed in one desk near the cashdesk and titled “La carretera” was, in fact, “The road”. Ah! The fate and its own strange mechanisms...Ok, here you have the original thread:
http://forum.juhlin.com/showthread.php?t=142
And, as Kato stated, 5 out of 5 mushrooms clouds... Only small advice: Don’t expect to find any explanation about the cause of the apocalypse. Just read the book, suffer (and enjoy).

And, as a “bonus track”, the trailer of the film. Personally I’ve found it too long and it seems that the director has added some clues about the cause of the end of the civilitzation...so...only for precaution...read the book before see the story trough the eyes of others...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbLgszfXTAY

The other book I’ve read is “Wasteland, stories of the apocalypse”, about 20 short stories, gathered together, all of them playing with the end of the civilitzation. This book is more in the sci-fi genre. Some of its stories are settled far away in the future, thousands of years after the collapse. Others are about the collapse process itself. It’s possible you will find here some story you have previously read. In my case, I’ve found one story from Orson Scott Card and its book “The Folk of the Fringe”.
A recommendation: “When Sysadmins ruled the Earth”.

The links to Amazon for more information:

http://www.amazon.com/Wastelands-Sto.../dp/1597801054

http://www.amazon.com/Road-Cormac-Mc.../dp/0307265439
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Old 07-24-2009, 04:17 PM
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I love The Road. I'm manly enough to admit that it's the only book that's ever made me cry- both times I read it!

Based on recs from this forum, I just read The Forever War (military-themed sci-fi) and was not disappointed. Great book; very creative. So much of what goes on in the novel is relatable to what's going on with America's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I plan on reading Heinlein's Starship Troopers soon for the pro-war counterpoint.

I'm currently rereading Neuromancer by William Gibson. Great near-future sci-fi. It's amazing how prescient it seems.
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Old 07-24-2009, 10:36 PM
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I recently finished reading World War Z, also as a result of reading recommendations here. Loved it. The author is obviously no military expert and he got a few things wrong about military hardware that the characters making the comments would have got right but it was good story telling.
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Old 07-26-2009, 08:14 AM
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I love The Road. I'm manly enough to admit that it's the only book that's ever made me cry- both times I read it!

Based on recs from this forum, I just read The Forever War (military-themed sci-fi) and was not disappointed. Great book; very creative. So much of what goes on in the novel is relatable to what's going on with America's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I plan on reading Heinlein's Starship Troopers soon for the pro-war counterpoint.

I'm currently rereading Neuromancer by William Gibson. Great near-future sci-fi. It's amazing how prescient it seems.
I liked “The Forever War” and I prefer it to “Starship troopers”. I remember that the controversial about if “Starship troopers” was (or not) a pro-war novel was a good material for our chats in the pub. As an anecdote, we had the great luck that the library of the the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Polytehcnic University of Catalonia), had a large section devoted only to science-fiction novels. This university even has its own contest for sci-fi short stories that produce one yearly publication with the better jobs. With the guidance of a good friend (both of us studied in that university) I discovered great novels like Neuromancer (your mention of the book has remember me the sci-fi library of the University).

About Heinlen, I’ve recently read “Farmer in the sky”, about the colonists of a new settlement in Ganymede. A very good book about adaptation, survival and about the choice of left behind everything you know except for 26 kg of equipment and begin a new life in an unknown world.
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Old 08-16-2009, 03:56 PM
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Default Cormac McCarthy

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc View Post
I've recently read two novels about the post-apoc backround, one of them discovered thanks to this forum. The first one is "The road", by Cormac McCarthy. Strangely I was planning to buy it trough Amazon after reading a recommendation from Kato but while I was bored in the queue of the supermarket I realized that the unknown novel exposed in one desk near the cashdesk and titled “La carretera” was, in fact, “The road”. Ah! The fate and its own strange mechanisms...Ok, here you have the original thread:
http://forum.juhlin.com/showthread.php?t=142
And, as Kato stated, 5 out of 5 mushrooms clouds... Only small advice: Don’t expect to find any explanation about the cause of the apocalypse. Just read the book, suffer (and enjoy).

And, as a “bonus track”, the trailer of the film. Personally I’ve found it too long and it seems that the director has added some clues about the cause of the end of the civilitzation...so...only for precaution...read the book before see the story trough the eyes of others...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbLgszfXTAY

The other book I’ve read is “Wasteland, stories of the apocalypse”, about 20 short stories, gathered together, all of them playing with the end of the civilitzation. This book is more in the sci-fi genre. Some of its stories are settled far away in the future, thousands of years after the collapse. Others are about the collapse process itself. It’s possible you will find here some story you have previously read. In my case, I’ve found one story from Orson Scott Card and its book “The Folk of the Fringe”.
A recommendation: “When Sysadmins ruled the Earth”.

The links to Amazon for more information:

http://www.amazon.com/Wastelands-Sto.../dp/1597801054

http://www.amazon.com/Road-Cormac-Mc.../dp/0307265439

Cormac McCarthy is an excellent writer - I have read several of his books and just swalllow hard sometimes -he can get to you .

great books
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Old 08-16-2009, 04:03 PM
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The imminent film adaptation about "The Road" spurred me to read the book before the premiere of the movie.
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Old 06-14-2017, 10:41 PM
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One author I've been enjoying recently is Myke Cole, who has written five novels (with the proofs of the sixth having just been finished) - Control Point, Fortress Frontier, Breach Zone, Gemini Cell, and Javelin Rain are published, with Siege Line soon to come out. They're set in a near-contemporary world where magic has been discovered. Many of the talented serve in the military, while those with talents the US government considers forbidden are covertly assigned to a PMC for special missions on another world. The first novel won the Compton Crook award as the best first English-language SF/F/H novel of the year. The books are a pair of trilogies, with the second trilogy being a prequel to the first trilogy. Cole himself did three tours in Iraq (two as a contractor and one as a DoD civilian) and is a Lieutenant in the USCGR while also working for the NYPD and is one of the cyber analysts on the TV show Hunted.
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Old 06-18-2017, 08:03 AM
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One author I've been enjoying recently is Myke Cole, who has written five novels (with the proofs of the sixth having just been finished) - Control Point, Fortress Frontier, Breach Zone, Gemini Cell, and Javelin Rain are published, with Siege Line soon to come out.
I bought Control Point and got about half way through the novel before I just couldn't continue reading it. That's rare for me. Usually even if a novel really doesn't do it for me I'll read it through to the end.
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Old 03-17-2020, 06:22 PM
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I just finished, Our War: A Novel, by Craig DiLouie, about a modern-day American civil war (published 2019).

It probably wouldn't help much with classic v1-2.2 timelines, coming from the pre-internet era when the U.S.A. wasn't nearly as polarized politically, but it could be pretty inspirational for a CONUS-based campaign set in a more up-to-date or near future timeline.

In the book, the president (named Marsh) is impeached and refuses to step down. He's supported by numerous right-leaning militias, and opposed by various "Lib" militias. Both sides consider the other "rebels". The military is attempting to stay neutral. The novel is set in a besieged Indianapolis, a blue city in a red state. The main characters are a pair of siblings, separated and fighting on opposite sides of the conflict, a Canadian UNICEF worker, and an ad-hoc team of journalists (a left-leaning local, a Brit with the Guardian, and a freelance French photographer).

In many ways, it reminds me of the Bosnia conflict transposed to the United States. It's quite believable in some regards, but the author's grip of military tactics is pretty weak, and some of the militia compositions strike me as a bit fanciful, to say the least (The Last Angels are presented as take-no-prisoners American [Christian] Taliban, the Free Women are an all-female militia, the Indie 300 are all-black, the Rainbow Warriors, all gay). The writing's not bad, if occasionally pedestrian.

The author is more sympathetic to the Liberal coalition, but the right-leaning "bad guys" are not too cartoonishly evil (with one notable exception).

Anyhow, it got me thinking about the plausibility of a second American Civil War, and inspired me to start reading a book about a more modern civil war, Anthony Beevor's, The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 (non-fiction).

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Old 10-24-2020, 12:23 PM
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Default Reflections on Red Storm Rising

I'm sure that most of you have read Tom Clancy's "novel of WWIII", Red Storm Rising by now. If not, it's worth your time.

I first read it at age 15. I last read it about 10 years ago. On a whim, I picked it up again a couple of weeks ago for another read-through.

The follow "review" contains SPOILERS:

Likes:

The set-pieces are really good, especially the Soviet capture of Iceland. I know that the book was inspired by Clancy and Larry Bond playing wargames (using the Harpoon system). I wonder how much of the set-piece battles was modelled on the Harpoon campaign and how much was the product of pure invention.

I appreciated the build-up to the war a lot more as an adult (I skipped those parts as a teenager). It seemed pretty plausible and was generally well-written.

The Soviet antagonists aren't too cartoonish. Some of them are downright sympathetic.

I thought that the submarine fight scenes were very well done. The surface ASW bits were pretty good too.

Dislikes:

The one set-piece that didn't quite work for me was the "Frisbees in Dreamland" episode. I liked the idea of targeting the Soviet Mainstay AWACS using stealth aircraft. IIRC, the F-19 used Sparrows for the kill, but I wonder if HARM or ALAARM would work against aerial targets. The latter would require no radar guidance, so they wouldn't trigger radar/threat warning receivers. Anyway, the part that I didn't like was that on the same mission, the titular F-19 was also tasked with lasing a bridge for a LGB strike. I found that super unrealistic. No one in their right mind would task the same aircraft with two vital missions. If the F-19 got shot down or damaged attempting the first mission, it couldn't perform the second. Silly, IMHO.

I can't fault him for this, but Clancy also got the stealth fighter way wrong. He calls it an attack fighter, but gives it air-to-air capability and afterburners. He also describes it with fixed external weapons pylons instead of an internal weapons bay. The former is not nearly as stealthy. Also, it's a two-seater (that's forgivable).

IMHO, Clancy really overestimated the ability of NATO aircraft to operate behind enemy lines. He gives NATO air superiority over the front on day one of the war, completely ignoring the sheer numerical superiority of the Red Airforce. More egregiously, IMHO, Clancy seemed to think that Soviet SAMs and AAA wouldn't be a significant problem for NATO strike aircraft. No Soviet fuel depot, bridge, artillery battery, tank farm, or HQ is safe from airstrikes during the war. NATO is never in danger of running out of combat aircraft.

Conversely, in Clancy's telling, NATO SAMs are super effective. Soviet tactical airpower and strike capabilities and effectiveness are sharply curtailed as a result. IRL, the Soviets had many more SAMs than NATO and, qualitatively, many of them were on par, if not better than their Western counterparts.

A Belgian brigade counterattacks and stops two Soviet Category A TDs during the attempted breakthrough at Alfeld. No offense to any Belgians out there, but just look at the respective TOEs, c.1986. I mean, it's possible, but highly unlikely.

"Three men in a jeep" (with a TOW) is, IMHO, totally OP in the book. Apparently NATO's soft-skinned mobile AT teams are immune to Soviet artillery. More on that below.

Early on in the book, Clancy mentions the Soviets' comparative superiority in artillery, but then pretty much dismisses it once the war starts. NATO artillery always gets the better of the Red Army guns and rockets. Any time Soviet artillery is mentioned after the build up, it's getting destroyed by airstrikes or counterbattery fire (and in one friendly fire incident, drops a vital bridge that the Soviets are trying to capture). I guess the only way Clancy and Bond could rationalize a NATO land victory was by nerfing Soviet artillery (and omitting the rest of the WTO- see below).

I may have missed it, but no WTO units are mentioned as participating in the war. It's the USSR v. NATO. The East Germans are mentioned objecting to planned Soviet use of chemical weapons on German soil but that's it. Warsaw Pact units are conspicuously absent on the ground and in the air. I guess the Kremlin gave them all the war off?

Again, Western intel on new (at the time) Soviet aircraft was incomplete, but the SU-27 would have been a better choice than the MiG-29 for the defense of the captured Icelandic airbases, due to the former's superior range and radar. He also apparently didn't know about both aircraft's infrared search and track systems, which would have given them an edge in engagements where "radar-silence" was being observed (these feature prominently in the book).

The romance subplot set in Iceland is cringe-worthy in several respects. The Air Force weatherman protagonist's killing of the Soviet rapists with a knife just struck me as uber-macho fantasizing. According to the very well-respected, On Killing, using a knife to kill is much more difficult psychologically (given the almost intimate proximity of killer to victim), yet the protagonists execute three Soviet prisoners with knives instead of their rifles or pistols. And shots had already been fired, so it wasn't even a stealth requirement. Rambo much?

How does the hovering Hind crew not notice the protagonist's camo clothing when he's spotted fishing. A clumsy boob-grab is enough to fool them? Silly.

And do I even need to mention the sex with a pregnant rape victim? Cringe! Men-writing-women at its worst.

Also, there's only one female combatant in the entire book. And one Asian-American. And it's the same character!

Nitpick: the names are so 1980s and vanilla: Smith, John, Mike, Ed, Garcia. Seems like very little thought or effort went into that aspect of CharGen.

Some of the dialogue is particularly stilted and unnatural. A lot of it is pretty good, though.

---

Yeah, so my dislikes list is a lot longer than my likes, but overall, it's a good read. It makes me want to play Harpoon again and, of course, gets in the T2k mood.

I'm interested in reading your thoughts on the book. What worked for you? What didn't?

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Last edited by Raellus; 10-24-2020 at 03:01 PM.
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Old 10-27-2020, 03:38 PM
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I'm sure that most of you have read Tom Clancy's "novel of WWIII", Red Storm Rising by now. If not, it's worth your time.
...
I appreciated the build-up to the war a lot more as an adult (I skipped those parts as a teenager). It seemed pretty plausible and was generally well-written.
I remember getting the hardback for Christmas, 1986, so that would have been my freshman year of college. I was an ROTC cadet and taking my 3rd year of Russian. So, I *really* liked the pre-war intel and politics-- intel was one of my dream jobs. I have probably read it 3+ times, the last in July '17.

Quote:
Likes:

The set-pieces are really good, especially the Soviet capture of Iceland. ...

The Soviet antagonists aren't too cartoonish. ...

I thought that the submarine fight scenes were very well done. The surface ASW bits were pretty good too.
I had Harpoon rules at the time, and solitaired a few ASW fights. All of the above were good elements to me.
Quote:
Dislikes:

- Anyway, the part that I didn't like was that ... would task the same aircraft with two vital missions.
In retrospect, I agree with you on that one. Clancy liked to flash back and forth between characters, so I'm now surprised this couldn't have been 2 missions, written as separate scenes?

Quote:
IMHO, Clancy really overestimated the ability of NATO aircraft to operate behind enemy lines. ...
Conversely, in Clancy's telling, NATO SAMs are super effective. ...
No argument that he may have missed the boat here. I think it was his book where the A-10s were pretty ubiquitous?

Quote:
A Belgian brigade counterattacks and stops two Soviet Category A TDs during the attempted breakthrough at Alfeld. No offense to any Belgians out there, but just look at the respective TOEs, c.1986. I mean, it's possible, but highly unlikely.
Um, yeah, I'd forgotten about that. How long were they stopped?

Quote:
Clancy mentions the Soviets' comparative superiority in artillery, but then pretty much dismisses it once the war starts. NATO artillery always gets the better of the Red Army guns and rockets. ... I guess the only way Clancy and Bond could rationalize a NATO land victory was by nerfing Soviet artillery.
Not something I'd paid attention to on my last read, but that does seem a little fishy.

Quote:
I may have missed it, but no WTO units are mentioned as participating in the war. It's the USSR v. NATO. ...
I suspect this may have been a result of sticking to a handful of characters, and IIRC the main Soviet point-of-view character was an Army commander? If so, that could have meant he just didn't deal with WP commanders? Or, if he was a Front commander, that falls apart, since there would be 2-3 EG divisions in his command.

Quote:
The romance subplot set in Iceland is cringe-worthy in several respects. The Air Force weatherman protagonist's killing of the Soviet rapists with a knife just struck me as uber-macho fantasizing. ...

How does the hovering Hind crew ...? Silly.

And do I even need to mention the sex with a pregnant rape victim? Cringe! Men-writing-women at its worst.
I would only defend the first bit: ISTR the weatherman lost his prewar fiancee/girlfriend to a rapist, so he could have been particularly enraged-- all the revenge fantasies of however many months given a chance to enact? I remember thinking the last part was cringey or a rescuer-fantasy, even at age 18. The middle bit... eh, possible?

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Also, there's only one female combatant in the entire book. And one Asian-American. And it's the same character!
Is this the F-15 test pilot who shoots down satellites? It's still 1986 when it's written, what other women combatants might he have used?

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Nitpick: the names are so 1980s and vanilla: Smith, John, Mike, Ed, Garcia. Seems like very little thought or effort went into that aspect of CharGen.
It's a fair cop. That's why the war movie cliche includes a Jewish guy, someone with an unspellable Polish name, the Italian guy from New York City, etc., in addition to the Texan and the smart guy. (Just don't be the next one to show off your girlfriend's picture!)

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Some of the dialogue is particularly stilted and unnatural. A lot of it is pretty good, though.
Agree on both counts.

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I'm interested in reading your thoughts on the book. What worked for you? What didn't?
+ I rather liked Clancy's style of cutting back and forth between several characters and points of view. It does reduce the depth of each character and their arc, but it also allows the reader to learn a lot more about the war as a whole.
(It works very well, IMO, in his thrillers, as you're seeing so many threads and wondering, "Oh, boy, how is THIS going to show up later?"

IIRC, the "main" characters were the USAF weather LT in Iceland, a USN frigate commander, and a Soviet general (Front or Army CG?). We can see the war at sea and in Iceland at the lowest level, then the main event in Germany at the highest level. I remember there are other threads, but not who or where.
+ By sticking to that high level in Germany, he avoids characters with "plot immunity"-- that F19 pilot won't get shot down on mission #3, a tank commander won't have to survive 5 tanks blowing up under them, and so forth.

- Back to the air defenses, I'm currently playing two board wargames by email, with differing conclusions on air defenses. In Red Storm, I've played about 5 scenarios, and SAMs on both sides are more planning nuisance than threat, due to both sides' having jammers and dedicated SEAD planes (NATO being a bit better at the latter). My opponent is certainly frustrated with the game's portrayal of SAMs relative to AAA and fighters. In 1985: under an iron sky, I'm playing NATO's center section, and it feels like NATO's air forces are terrified, since anything I do with them will be swarmed by MiGs or slammed by zillions of SAMs, or both. Maybe later in the first week, but on Day 4, I am way outgunned.
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