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The Third World War: August 1985

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,716 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Early in 1977 a retired NATO general called together six of his collegues--including an admiral, an airman, an economist and a diplomat--to write a dramatized game-plan for the next world war.

A sensational international bestseller, it is a vivid, detailed, and often blood-curdling on-the-spot report from the battle fronts of a "real war", from tank assaults to air clashes

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published February 1st 1979 by MacMillian Publishing Co., Inc. (first published 1978)
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Kym Robinson
Jan 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the book that re inspired a genre of near future conflict projection. Perhaps now it could be considered an alternate history read but at the time it was an exercise in military realisation should the Cold War turn quite heated.

Though it is a book that lacks a narrative of good and bad and does not come as a novel, though it is a fiction. It is written as a historical piece as though the then future has already happened and those that lived through it and those yet to be born, sought som
Jul 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Quite interesting. Somewhat thinly veiled propaganda for a pro-military, conservative approach to world affairs (It was all the liberals' fault!), but a lot of fun and I'm learning a lot about Cold War era politics.

Among the more unintentionally hilarious lines: "He was also, like very many generals, a brave, sincere, and selfless person."

This book was written by General sir John Hackett and "Other Top-Ranking NATO Generals & Advisors."

I wanted the next line to be: "He was the very model o
Jul 18, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history-military
This book is a unique artifact of the Cold War: in 1977, a retired British general wrote a book about a hypothetical "World War 3" centered in Europe in 1985. It's not actually an enjoyable reading experience - much of it reads like a textbook - and a lot of their future predictions turned out very wrong (China and Japan allied; the Shah's Iran dominant in the Middle East; Germany permanently partitioned; the draft restored in the US). However, other projections turned out well (a stronger EU; t ...more
Hard to know where to put this. It's fiction, but was an attempt by General John hackett and other military advisors and generals to predict, realistically, how the Third World War might be fought. Of course it is far dated now. It was first published in 1979 and predicted the war for August, 1985.

I actually found the book pretty interesting reading. It held my attention, although it wasn't written exactly like a novel. I've often figured this book was an influence on Tom Clancy's work. Today i
Jan 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought it was a decent book. With my age, I found myself having to read this book with my phone close I'm hand to Google certain things.

I also see a lot of reviews criticizing how the author predicted the future wrong. I personally think he did a great job of taking a shot at it. He did the best he could at the time and honestly, I'm pretty sure than the Shah of Iran overthrow caught everyone off guard. I think everyone remembers that little hostage situation.... :)
Sep 10, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first chapter of this book was amazing... the next few chapters detailing the political backdrop were excruciating at the time, and the last half of the book was ok. So, overall 3 stars.

Of course, the whole thing seems quite silly now (and come to think of it, it seemed silly even when I first read this back in middle school). Still, the first chapter is worth it for its imagining of the frenetic crush of events on the modern kinetic battlefield.
Feb 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
The precusor novel to TEAM YANKEE by Harold Coyle. The book theorizes an invasion of western Europe by the Warsaw pact in 1985. For the most part, it was a very well considered novel. The only really weak point that I recall was his impression of what the space war element would be like. Rather dated now, but it was a great read at the time.
David Dalton
Jan 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Read this years ago.....Enjoyed it very much. Tons of military related details. If you enjoy Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy, then this novel is for you. Remember when it was written, in the mid-80's. The world has changed since then, but this sets up the time period very well.
Mar 03, 2014 added it
Tough going for the uninitiated. Not a narrative but a strategic history of WWIII.
Jun 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A just about plausible story written in a quite entertaining manner. (if you are interested in all things military of course)
Brian Turner
Aug 16, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Written in the '70s, looks at what a nuclear war could be like in the far future of 1985.
Partly it's a gripe against cost & personnel cutting that was going on, other parts look at the sea, land and air forces and the role they would play.

It's an interesting book, obviously some of the predictions didn't happen as expected. It suffers from being really dry in its presentation. Lots of lists of the type of vehicles and weapons in use by the NATO and Warsaw Pact forces.
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I bought this hoping it would be as good as Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy. It's not even close.
This is clearly written by a former soldier, with little thought to personal stories and interest. It's not good and I found it really hard to engage with. Read Red Storm Rising instead, which is enthralling.
Mar 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
Published in 1978 The Third World War is not a novel as such but a retelling in the manner of a future history book about the Soviet invasion of Western Europe in the then future of 1985.

It was dry, dry, dry.
Makes Tom Clancy look realistic.

Seriously, it's actually quite worrying that so many big-name decision-makers had such a poor understanding of their enemy during the Cold War. I can forgive mispredictions like thinking Saudi Arabia and Kuwait would fall to revolution and Iran would stay stable - you can't call details. And I can forgive the propaganda nature of the book - it's blatantly obvious it was written to encourage the West to spend more on guns, and I'll let the heavy-handed way it's don
Sep 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Interesting book written in the late 1970s by a retired British/NATO general. His scenario saw the Soviet Union deciding to launch WW3 in 1985 while they felt they had a chance of winning - the book was really meant as a call to arms to the West to reverse the military downturns of the 1970s. What is rather chilling in this day is the widespread use of chemical weapons by both sides - it brings to mind the emphasis on CBR training that I had in the Navy during this period. If you are interested ...more
Robin Smith
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
General Hackett presents a fictional account of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe, much in the vein of Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising but with much more detail about the political and military situation leading up to the war and not as much personal story-telling. Hackett's knowledge of the Cold War shines through. His knowledge of the NATO military organization is even more evident. If you're a Cold War history fan, this will appeal to you.

I found the account of the lead-up and early prosecuti
Sep 04, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up-reading
I picked this up from the charity shop as I really thought it would be my sort of thing. The author takes the world situation as it was in 1979 and extrapolates what would lead to WWIII breaking out in 1985. And the first chapter was good - read more like a novel and really had me hooked. Unfortunately, it went downhill a bit from there. Each chapter just became a list ie. Isreal has this many boats, Russia does this, the UK sells this, America buys interests in that. By Chapter four, I had kin ...more
Steven Booth
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
The book was written by a British General so naturally the Brits are portrayed as playing a central role in the naval arena. Rule Britannia. I'm not knocking the Royal Navy. I'm a big fan and they would play a role, but not a central role. Maybe back in 1978 things were different, but today our navy is the best and strongest in the world and China is the real threat. Am I wrong? Wasn't the U.S. Navy slightly marginalized in this book?
Jun 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read THIS book and then read Tom Clancy's "Red Storm Rising" and you will be shocked at how similar they are with expected tactics and maneuvers used by both sides of the conflict. It's eye opening to Clancy readers on how close the fiction writer is to the way real military men do and would react in war-time situations.
carl  theaker
Jun 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: history-fiction, war

A good read, though often from a technical perspective,
of a possible WW3 played out primarily on the battlefields of
Europe. This scenario was planned & practiced for by NATO in
those cold war days and is brought to life by the author.

Subject is much dated now that the USSR has gone its
way, still would be an interesting take for the
point of view of the era.

Jan 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Thoughtful and well documented study of possible war between NATO and Warsaw Pact countries in 1985. Was the factual basis for Harold Coyle's Team Yankee. This book looks at the strategic issues involved, primarily from the British government's position. It was well written and detailed, although some of the illustrations were outdated (soldiers with M-1 rifles instead of M-16s)
Nov 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
Wow! This brought back memories. I was just at a library book sale (1-Nov-08), saw a copy on the table and remembered reading this around 1981-82 (when the "intelligence community" still thought the Soviets could have mounted a worldwide war).

A bit too "right wing" for me now but a plausible enough scenario, I suppose, if the Pentagon's fantasy had any basis in reality.
Brian Steele
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This the orginial tech / war thriller which Clancy and all the others learned from. I could not put this book down. Writing it like a history book was absolute brilliance. Several books books were derived from this (Team Yankee). I have read this again and agian and although the times have changed, it is still a good what if book.
Brandon Williams
The book was written in 1978, and while the book focuses on 1985, there are a lot of factors that can make anyone who lived through the Cold War feel grateful this book did not become reality. Even in 2016, there are still embers in the world (mainly the Middle East and portions of Africa) that could revive the prospects of a world ablaze for a third time.
Smith Nickerson
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Could the USSR have taken Europe back in the 80's? Yah. I think so. The US forces were badly equipped and trained.

General Hackett thought so too but not for the same reasons. I don't think even he knew how drastic things could have been.

It still is unfathomable to me that this era is just a quirk in history.

Quite a interesting reading, specially now, almost 40 years later. However, the book does not catch you as much as expected. Moreover, the Spanish edition (printed in Mexico) was badly translated and edited in some parts, which does not help at all.
Douglas Wilson
Jun 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Mar 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: re-read, fiction
Ended up skimming through a lot of this re-read. It's so very dated now, but it was kind of interesting to remember what we were scared of back in the 70s. Haven't heard about BMEWS in decades!
D Sibilant
Aug 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
Very dry. Too much emphasis is paid to the time frame 1978-85. An actual history wouldn't have done that. Some of the predictions were interesting though.
May 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this multiple times. I used to carry a copy in my field gear, for reading during breaks in exercises.
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General Sir John Winthrop Hackett GCB, CBE, DSO & Bar, MC was an Australian-born British soldier, author and university administrator.

Hackett, who was nicknamed "Shan", was born in Perth, Western Australia. His Irish Australian father, Sir John Winthrop Hackett (1848–1916), originally from Tipperary,was a newspaper proprietor and politician and his mother was Deborah Drake-Brockman (1887–1965)
More about John W. Hackett...