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One of my favorite books growing up was Red Storm Rising. The silent partner behind that Cold War classic went on to produce this what if exercise of a novel. Because of the inherent limitations of the genre, the story quickly became outdated, notice that it was copyrighted in 1990, meaning that it came out the same year Iraq invaded Kuwait, making it something of a time capsule of military thinking. At the same time, this necessary anachronism does not in and of itself render the book irrelevant. As the critical acclaim quoted above notes, it was considered at the time a thoroughly credible hypothetical scenario for a Second Korean War.
Another reviewer criticized the plausibility of the politics and military technology depicted in the conflict. It is important to remember though that at the time, strategic focus was centered squarely on Europe, meaning political calculations and allocation of modern hardware flowed accordingly. Thus, the stage is set for a sort of worst case scenario, where US and South Korean forces standing alone without the benefit of the 1980s modernization face the best Soviet armor employed with the sufficient numbers and ruthless disregard for losses that made the American military modernization at the end of the Cold War such a priority for so many, or so it seems to an armchair quarterback looking back over two decades.
At any rate, like he did with Clancy, Bond asks a number of interesting questions, and enlists a number of unfortunate characters to act as observers in his thought experiments. This includes anti-submarine warfare officers trying to get convoys into Pusan with North Korean and Russian subs prowling the shallow approaches, navy and air force pilots trying to outmatch MIG-29s while not being drowned by a tide of MIG-21s, carrier crews trying to sustain combat operations against built up air defenses, infantry officers leading what was meant to be a tripwire force asked to hold against an unending stream of heavy armor, and even logisticians trying to manage the flow of needed supplies from the states while trying to avoid being blown up.
So long as one heeds another reviewer's warning to be mindful of the time in which this book originates and is nominally set, there's quite a bit to chew on here. Unfortunately, the narration leaves something to be desired. I actually have a copy of this book in what I believe to be its original form, eight cassettes with a different track on the left and right stereo channels. On that medium, the quality of the production was thoroughly satisfactory, when heard from a digital player and held up against modern offerings produced by Audible and others, it borders on embarrassing at times, possibly downright offensive.
Nonetheless, it is a worthwhile listen to those interested in sussing out what such a war might have been like.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
This is a good action story about a late cold war era outbreak of war in Korea. The story is plausible and flows well. The narrator is a little too upbeat in his characterizations. Everybody kind of has a happy sound to their voice. He does a decent job of giving each character their own sound. I enjoy cold war era stories and was not disappointed with this Larry Bond title. If you enjoy Harold Coyle or Tom Clancy you should be happy with Larry Bond's Red Phoenix.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful