In Red Storm Rising, Tom Clancy imagines a situation in which Cold War Era Russia finds itself an oil shortage for at least a couple years.
The Politboro sees its only option is to seize the oil in the Persian Gulf in such a way that the NATO alliance will be afraid to retaliate.
It devises an invasion of Europe in hopes that the military action will conceal their need for oil.
After setting up that scenario in about 30 pages, Clancy goes for nearly 600 more pages about a month of fighting—particularly the submarine warfare—between the Soviet and NATO Alliance members.
The novel repeatedly cycles through a huge, cast of predominantly male characters whose work is their lives.
They watch screens, listen to beeps, and say things like, “The sonobuoys have our torp but nothing else,” “Dead in the water,” and “Roger that.”
In the novel’s final post-war scene, the American General asks the Russian General, “Why didn’t you tell us you needed oil? … We would have demanded and gotten concessions of some kind—but don’t you think we would have tried to prevent all this?”
Similarly, Red Star Risingisn’t worth the effort expended by author and readers.
The Third World War: August 1985 is not a real novel. It’s not about people; it’s about populations.
The book is classified as a fantasy: Tanks, submarines, and nuclear war heads take the place of wizards, elves, and magic wands.
Its authors are “General Sir John Hackett and Other Top-ranking NATO Generals and Advisors.”
They begin their book with three pages listing acronyms used in the text.
The text itself is written as a post-war analysis compiled at the conclusion of the war. It certainly sounds like a military analysis: Ponderous prose in passive voice.
Today’s readers will have difficulty getting past the first chapter.
The map of the world is very different today than it was in 1978 when the generals and advisors were concocting this tale: Germany, divided then, is once more reunited. The map of Africa has been redrawn, countries renamed.
What remains of interest are small bits, as, for example, the military men say socialist countries reject American-style democracy because they see it as substituting corporate rule for Soviet political rule or the assertion that Europeans distrust America’s judgment because it wasn’t invaded in WWI or WWII.