The emergence of a stable and democratic Iraq has greatly shifted the balance of power in the Middle East. As a consequence, Saudi Arabia has found itThe emergence of a stable and democratic Iraq has greatly shifted the balance of power in the Middle East. As a consequence, Saudi Arabia has found itself all but marginalized. When hard line elements in Russia, promising to return their nation to its former glory, come to power the Saudi's see an opportunity. A Russo-Saudi alliance is formed with the goal of driving the United States from the region and gaining control of the worlds oil reserves. Standing in their way are elements of the Unites States military and the battle hardened Iron Tigers.
That is the premise behind Michael Farmer's military thriller "Iron Tigers". It is a straight forward, get to point war story. While not on a par with Tom Clancy's World War III masterpiece "Red Storm Rising" or works by Larry Bond (Vortex and Red Phoenix) it is nonetheless a fast paced, enjoyable read.
As an active duty member of the military serving with CENTCOM Farmers knowledge of tactics and tank combat is clearly seen within the pages of "Iron Tigers". His writing reminds me of Harold Coyle (Team Yankee and The Ten Thousand). He also does a nice job of taking the reader into the halls of power in Washington and Moscow to observe some the statecraft and brinkmanship involved in waging a war.
The characters in "Iron Tigers" are fairly one dimensional and standard for a novel of this type. There are two exceptions. Rolf Krieger is a Schwarzenegger-esque type character, the son of parents from the East Germany he has a burning hatred of Russians and is delighted for an opportunity to confront the Russians in battle. The other is a Jack Russell Terrier named Phantom who survives a run in with a brutal Russian Colonel to fight another day.
The story while fast moving and entertaining does feel a bit rushed particularly a cloak and dagger B plot inside the Kremlin itself. This B plot alone could make a great read. Fans of the movie "Patton" will appreciate the climax of "Iron Tigers" be it a bit farfetched.
A few faults aside "Iron Tigers" is a nicely conceived, well-executed military thriller and well worth a look....more
The book "Tony and Me: A Story Friendship" is Jack Klugman's loving tribute to his long time co-star and dear friend the late Tony Randall. The book cThe book "Tony and Me: A Story Friendship" is Jack Klugman's loving tribute to his long time co-star and dear friend the late Tony Randall. The book covers the extent of their decades long friendship from their first meeting on the set of a 1950's TV show, to their days on "The Odd Couple", to Mr. Klugman's battle with cancer and ultimately with the passing of Mr. Randall in 2004.
Although the book is not autobiographical Mr. Klugman, nonetheless, does spend the first couple of chapters detailing the path he took to become an actor. If you are a fan of "The Odd Couple" or Jack Klugman these chapters will provide some interesting incite into the man. The author spends the balance of the book recounting various stories and anecdotes of their career together.
The book is short (less than 150 pages) and I was able to read it in a single sitting. It is an at times a funny and very touching book. I found myself laughing out loud more than once and even getting choked up on a couple of occasions. The love Jack Klugman feels for Tony Randall is palpable as you read through portions of this book.
As a bonus, the book comes with a DVD containing out takes from the "The Odd Couple". This 15 minute DVD, introduced by Jack Klugman, contains some extremely funny out takes from the series. It alone is worth the price of the book.
If you are a fan of "The Odd Couple", or Jack Klugman, or Tony Randall or just of classic TV I highly recommend this book. The investment of time needed to read it is minor compared with the enjoyment you with derive. ...more
"Transfer of Power" by Vince Flynn is an exceptionally well written, well paced action novel that is literally impossible to put down. "Can't put it d"Transfer of Power" by Vince Flynn is an exceptionally well written, well paced action novel that is literally impossible to put down. "Can't put it down" is one of the most overused cliches in publishing but in this case it happens to be true. I devoured it in a handful of sittings. Rarely have I enjoyed a political thriller more. The plot, which in a post September 11 world takes on new significance, involves the capture of the White House by a group of Middle Eastern terrorists and the efforts made to take back the presidential mansion. What comes in between is enough political intrigue and special forces action to satisfy even the most jaded of techno thriller fans.
My only criticism is that the character's that populate Flynn's book are a fairly standard lot for his type of novel. The protagonist of "ToP" Mitch Rapp, while a very engaging and likable character, is nearly indistinguishable from Tom Clancy's John Clark or Jack Ryan or any of the other black ops super spy's that are so common in this genre. Other character's suffer from the same sense of familiarity. The exception being the villain. Terrorist mastermind Rafique Aziz is a very well crafted foe for agent Rapp and is one the reasons the novel is so entertaining. I should note that while the characters are fairly standard I still found myself making a significant emotional connection with them
It's minor character flaws aside "Transfer of Power" is an example of the political/techno thriller at it's finest. It moves at lighting speed with not a single wasted page or sentence and packs a number of very satisfying moments. I highly recommend it! ...more
Sixth Fleet is the first of many works which fictionally depict the consequences of allowing America's military power to further atrophy. Sixth FleetSixth Fleet is the first of many works which fictionally depict the consequences of allowing America's military power to further atrophy. Sixth Fleet is not intended as a stand alone work and those going in with that impression (as I did) will find themselves frustrated. The author expends a great deal of time and effort introducing us to characters and scenarios that go nowhere by the end of the book. These elements may quite likely be revived in future installments but it makes it no less annoying. I have read many other books that have been intended as the first of many and they have done a better job of plot and character management. As to the authors creation of characters it is ok but not great. There are a few interesting characters but they are only bit players. Other problems, Sixth Fleet is torturously slow and tedious in many places moving at near glacial pace early in the novel. I have read may works of military fiction a.k.a. "techno-thrillers" but never have I run into a work jammed with so many military acronyms as Sixth Fleet (including the works of Tom Clancy; himself a fan of jargon and the acronym); many of which are never identified or defined. This book could have benefited greatly from a glossary or a similar guide to military jargon. All that being said the saving grace of Sixth Fleet are the battle scenes. His descriptions of military combat are exceptional. They are easily the best part of the book. These sequences found me turning the pages and having time stand still. Full marks to the author in this regard. The author also does a good job of setting up a satisfying emotional payoff down the road after the US military suffers a Pearl Harbor style attack. If he can make the reader care more about his characters the pay off will be even better. I do not know how many novels are intended as part of the Sixth Fleet series (pre-orders for a title called Sixth Fleet: Seawolf are being taken on Amazon.com) but there is potential here. The author needs to write a more complete story in each installment, better define the jargon and acronyms and make us care more about his characters. If he can accomplish those three in combination with the exceptional battles scenes then future works will be among the finest in the genre. ...more
"First Landing" is a quick reading no-brakes story (I devoured the 262 pages in a couple of sittings) about humankind's first landing on Mars that pac"First Landing" is a quick reading no-brakes story (I devoured the 262 pages in a couple of sittings) about humankind's first landing on Mars that packs a shocker of an ending to boot. "First Landing" is the tale of a team of five Americans (three men and two women) that make the long the and perilous journey to Mars only to find themselves stranded by the vagaries of public opinion and a few nasty surprises. As a result they are forced to rely on themselves if they are to survive. Wasting very little time with exposition Robert Zubrin (president of the Mars Society) jumps right into this story and never slows down until the end. His detailing is quite effective if somewhat limited. Despite the speed with which the story unfolds his characterization is sufficient for me to have rapidly made an emotional connection with main actors.
In an interesting addendum the books epilogue is Zubrin's contention that the type of mission he details in "First Land" is what he sees as a blue print for real manned mission to Mars by 2011. In that limited space he makes a convincing case for a more ambitious Mars program than the one currently being undertaken.
On the down side, I wished there were a bit more to this book. I would have liked to have spent more time getting to know these characters. Further, the swiftness with which things unfold leaves a few holes in the motivations of certain key actors that a longer novel could have addressed.
However, if you are fan of Mars fiction you will find "First Landing" a fun and fast read. It's not as detailed or plot heavy as Kim Stanley Robinson's "Red Mars", "Green Mars" and "Blue Mars" trilogy. But it definitely put a smile on my face when I finished. ...more
I just finished “Gabriel’s Redemption” by Steve Umstead. Before I talk about the book I want to say a thing or two about the author. I first encounterI just finished “Gabriel’s Redemption” by Steve Umstead. Before I talk about the book I want to say a thing or two about the author. I first encountered Steve via his Twitter feed and then through his blog. He is very much a guy I would like to be; a regular guy with a family and a 9 to 5 job who had the dream of becoming an author. Yet unlike so many of us mere wannabes he actually took the plunge and wrote. I am glad he did because the result is one of the better sci-fi books I’ve ever read.
As the title indicates “Gabriel’s Revenge” is the story of a disgraced Special Forces soldier who has been plucked from his self-imposed exile and given a chance to redeem himself if he and his team survive.
I don’t want to talk too much more about the plot. I want to talk about what I think Umstead does exceptionally well in this book. The book is set in the year 2,176 and Umstead does a great job of creating a fascinating history of the future. The trouble with many sci-fi novels is that the authors create such an elaborate future that it appears all but unrecognizable. Not so with Umstead. He creates a future that is advanced to be sure but at the same time still feels familiar. This is one the best aspects of the book.
The other thing the author very well is to do something I do not think I’ve seen before. To be sure military sci-fi is a staple of the genre. Yet what Umstead does I think is unique is to create a sci-fi techno-thriller. He merges the political intrigue and action of a Tom Clancy novel with sci-fi. At times it reminded me very much of the best of Babylon 5 and the movie “Aliens”.
“Gabriel’s Redemption” is an outstanding debut by what I hope becomes a widely read author. ...more