©1990 Larry Bond; (P)2006 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
"A big, big book...A superb storyteller...Larry Bond seems to know everything about warfare, from the grunt in a foxhole to the fighter pilots far above the earth...Red Phoenix is wonderfully entertaining and deserves to be the best seller it is." (New York Times Book Review)
"Gripping...masterfully accurate...Mr. Bond is in complete command." (Baltimore Sun)
"Harrowingly real and persuasive." (Newsday)
"A direct hit! The techno-thriller has a new ace, and his name is Larry Bond." (Tom Clancy)
I am a blind lawyer and aspiring writer, trying to read a little bit of everything but partial to sci-fi and military fiction.
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 Because of the inherent limitations of the genre, the story quickly became outdated, notice that it was copyrighted in 1990, meaning that it came out the same year Iraq invaded Kuwait, making it something of a time capsule of military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.
I spend about 55 hours a week driving and really enjoy having a good book to pass the miles.
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.
I was told this book was close to Tom Clancy's "Red Storm Rising" but it fell short of it. I was expecting more action scenes and more follow thru with details. The ending was not thrilling at all. I hope his other books are better.
Absolutely not if he tries to mimic Asian accents.
I was waiting for the narrator to come up with, "Ah so, you likee flied lice?"
The perfect draft of how a 2nd Korean War would be done as it enlist the talents of not the americans but the NK as well..
Red Phoenix is an anachronism.. It is relevant in that North Korea is still a threat and a battle on the Korean peninsula could go very much like it does in this story. But it is so dated by politics and technology to make unintentionally funny and maddening at the same time. References in the present tense to the Soviet Union seem out of place; military hardware being used that was retired 20 years ago (M60/M48 tanks, Bell Huey helicopters, F14 fighters are a few examples). Not being able to reach someone because they aren't at home or the office had me screaming cellphone, but then i remembered those didn't exist in 1990.
I'm not saying not to read the book, just to be prepared for some time warp issues.
This story was frustrating on so many levels. From the politics to the equipment used on the battlefield. From what I can guess this story takes place somewhere between 1991-97. I judge this based on reference to the cold war having just ended and the service life of the tanks the US used. While I am certainly not an expert on the US Army's arsenal in Korea, I am fairly certain that the US has more than M16's, a handful of tanks that were dated even for that time period, a few artillery batteries, and some troops on the ground. While the North Koreans had grenades, special forces units, and all manner of heavy equipment.
It was amazing that even as the conflict rapidly escalated the President of the US never contacted any other leader in the world for any reason. None of the UN nations were involved in the battle even though the author involved the UN council and (I believe) called it a UN action occasionally. It was essentially the US standing alone against several nations involved in an out of control war.
Most of the victories the US achieved were mostly by luck, I think the author was attempting to create tension and excitement with that but it only made me feel the US was poorly trained, undisciplined, and poorly equipped.
The narrator was not the best I have listened to. The Koreans sounded like they were exaggerated sports announcers (the best analogy I could come up with). Anybody on a US radio was so overly stereotypical: "Rrrrrroger...." and that sort of thing. I was in the Army for 5 years and there was more likely a good butt chewing if anybody was trying to sound like they were in the movies while on the radio.
If you're looking for a story that bears some military and political realism (other than the names of equipment) then look elsewhere. However, if you want a casual story that moves along quickly enough then you might enjoy this one.
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