Tuesday, March 9, 2010

More Old Books

I'm on a bit of a 80's nostalgia ride... Red Storm Rising. 1986. Tom Clancy's second book. To be OBE by 1989.

This book is another great example of what we in the US thought in the mid 1980s. It's a snapshot of the culture, just like Slapshot, the movie, is a perfect snap shot of the mid 1970s. Boy does it take me back to the Reagan years. Reagan isn't mentioned in the book, but the mood... [Reagan gave a huge boost to Clancy when it was revealed the Hunt for Red October was on his nightstand. That book was just a silly Naval Institute Proceedings Press run. Without a boost it would have sold a few thousand copies to mil-geeks, tops. A presidential endorsement lead to a best seller and the birth of a genre, the Military Techno-Thriller.]

To wit: the Soviet were big and rich and militarily capable. Their Air Forces were practically a match for ours, for instance, and had similar readiness. The T-72 tank was a match for the M1 Abrams in a straight fight. Their economic system was deeply flawed (true, here!) And jihadist terrorists can easily spark a world wide conflagration that draws many countries into an expensive war (also true, and a bit more prescient than the assumed continued long-term existence of the USSR.)

But read it, you youngsters, if you want to know what the military worried about back then. And one way WWIII could have gone down. But without all those damn geiger counters.

To sum up the plot, terrists blow up a big Soviet oil refinery by cascading sabatoage. REALLY big refinery. So big the USSR will be beggared by it in the time it takes to come back on line in a few years. They conclude the only way out is to take a big chunk of the Middle East. But to do that and get away with it they have to steamroll NATO first. There is some cloak and dagger while the forces train up and position, then invasion. NATO starts up REFORGER. A lot of the book action revolves around the ensuing battle of the North Atlantic and around Iceland, as well as the German land campaign. Clancy is a Navy-interested guy, you'd expect it to be slightly Navy-heavy. The good guys win.

Gun content? Precious little. Unless you count Standard Missiles and Mk48 torpedoes and artillery. Sure there is mention of some small stuff. AK-47s. M-16s. The sidearm pistols are M1911As. And the mention of a rifle on a Navy ship is an M-14, because the Navy wasn't trigger pullers and second line obsolete stuff was fine for them. Plus M-14s had other utilities not listed by Clancy but nonetheless helped justify their shipboard use, M-14s were good for shooting shot lines to other ships. Also, they were better for shooting at floating mines.



1 comment:

Chris said...

Another good one is 'The Flight of the Old Dog' by Dale Brown, who I continually confuse with Dan Brown.

Clancy understood it was all about logistics, just like in WWII.