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Arc Light

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4.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,190 ratings  ·  51 reviews
In Eric L. Harry's powerful, fever-pitched first novel, nuclear war is just the beginning. Seen through the eyes of generals and civilians, soldiers and politicians, Arc Light is unlike any political thriller you have ever read--chilling, relentless, and all too real.
Paperback, 560 pages
Published February 1st 1996 by Jove (first published August 2nd 1994)
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Average rating 4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,190 ratings  ·  51 reviews


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Michael Herrman
Aug 01, 2011 rated it liked it
I've read this book twice (gave it a decade between reads) and my results did not vary. There's a lot of good writing here and he renders a matter of fact approach to a limited nuclear war scenario. One only needs to read his account of a nuclear strike on an airbase from the perspective of the people in a nearby hangar to see how this writer can shine. The prose is decent and the characters are (mostly) believable and sympathetic.

What rubbed me was his shoddy treatment of the larger
...more
Mieczyslaw Kasprzyk
This is a difficult book to review; there are so many things wrong with it and so many things that work well. I've read a number of books about modern warfare, the possible Third World War and nuclear apocalypse, that I feel do things a lot better and keep the interest if the reader gripped throughout. This book stretched my patience at times, I have to admit.
What could have been a gripping opening is ruined by long lists of who is being evacuated to where, lists of monitoring stations and
...more
Rob
Jan 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Arc Light is the cure for the common war novel – or in my case, it was the one that made most I'd read before it seem shallow and forgettable. Eric Harry's frightening depiction of an accidental nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia loses little of its punch in the post 9/11-era, even if the passage of time somewhat dates the geopolitics depicted in the book. Unlike Clancy or others, Harry never treats war as an action movie; consequently this book has a rare maturity and gravity to i ...more
Greg
Nov 18, 2009 rated it it was ok
Admittedly I am not yet entirely through the book but I dont think my review is going to change. The characters have not really been developed well, at least not well enough for me to care about. There is a pervasive anti-Democrat sentiment throughout the story that goes beyond plot. I dont really dont care about the author's political leanings but it is impossible to ignore (He must really hate Obama). As a result, some of the post exchange developments seem really absurd. Finally, as noted by ...more
Henry
Jan 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: thriller
An interesting novel. Written in the 90s, it is a portrayal of a realistic nuclear conflict, started by a believable chain of events. Deals more with the military and political side of matters, than the sort of post apocolyptic fall outs. Millions die, but strangely seems to be a side show to proceedings.

Unlike the norm in such grandiose "techno thrillers", with their usual slow build up leading to a climax with little surprises, in this novel within 50 pages, we have had an invasion of South K
...more
Nlindgren
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was ok
Nuclear war happens by accident, people die, a mostly conventional invasion of Russia begins. This is a fairly silly technothriller with lots of genre-typical exposition, plot points that go absolutely nowhere (view spoiler) and many things that just feel implausible or silly (those Marines...).

The author earns a second sta
...more
Brendan
Jan 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I read a description of the plot of this book while looking for another thriller. It sounded interesting enough to buy, but was out of print. Eventually, I tracked down a used copy, and ended up paying $15 for a dogeared paperback by an author I'd never heard of. Best $15 I've ever spent. I read plenty of thrillers, but I've never read a book that was this exciting from cover to cover. It probably didn't hurt that it was written by a lawyer and one of the protagonists is a lawyer who becomes a w ...more
Robert
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
This was a terrifying book of what happens when you mix major superpowers in with nuclear weapons. What would happen if there was an exchange of nuclear weapons and would we be able to stop before it was all destroyed? When I read this book I found myself actually yelling at some of the characters. That is how vivid this book is written. Anyone who likes to read Tom Clancy or Larry Bond get this book and make some room on your schedule.
Martin Schoffstall
Apr 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the third time I've read the book. I go back to it because it describes a simpler Cold War world, use of limited nuclear weapons, with horrible outcomes, and the inability of people to foresee outcomes. causality is a difficult thing.
Lee
Oct 21, 2007 added it
Arc Light is a very respectable geopolitical technothriller. Its greatest asset is that it does not hesitate to pull the nuclear trigger--to horrifying effect.
Skovrodino
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
The key to enjoying this book is to accept the limitations of the world of the mid-1990s. If you can do that and refrain from nit-picking some of its sillier features, Arc Light possessed great scope and imagination. Its description of limited nuclear combat was disturbing, as was attention to detail in the depictions of Russian weakness in a dirty conflict it had no hope of winning and the intelligently-imagined political chaos in DC.

It's not perfect, (the early Russian antagonist i
...more
Henri Moreaux
Arc Light is quite a broad novel with some parts being politics, some parts being large scale nuclear attacks, some parts being first person military fighting, amongst other things.

It does many things very well and has crisp and straight forward prose that draws you right in even if not up on the intricacies of the US political system.

The book is about a fictional world war 3, a nuclear exchange between Russia and America, with the following conflict leading to the disbanding of NAT
...more
Adam Yoshida
Aug 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An Under-appreciated classic of the genre

They don’t make technothrillers like this anymore. I’ve probably read this book a dozen times over the years and I put it right up there with “Red Storm Rising” as a classic tale of a Third World War. Harry writes with both a strong command of technical detail and a broad scope.
Gerry
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Easy thriller about WW3 in the mid 90s. Some parts were good and some were just silly. Full jingoism in effect. As horrific of an event this would be, a realistic balanced novel from both sides would be an interesting read.
M Nyberg
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: war-military
Fantastic. It seemed so real as if it happened in a parallel universe. The author rates up there with Clancy in this genre.
John
Oct 28, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5. Long book, good in parts wouldn't read again.
G Scott
Oct 29, 2017 rated it liked it
it was ok. no tom clancy here.
Daniel Xu
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fun thought exercise on nuclear war.
Alexander Temerev
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Too many inaccuracies to stumble upon, even for a fiction book (and not particularly interesting in the main plot)
Brian
Oct 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Arc Light is a military thriller that takes us to the worst place we can imagine, a doomsday scenerio where politics play more of a role in making decisions than common sense, and the destruction of cities and millions of people don't make people bat an eye.

The author Eric Harry starts the novel with the assumption that Russia has rebels that are able to seize the Russia nuclear stockpile and shoot it against U.S military installations, the U.S. responds in kind. After some many nucl
...more
Joe
Jan 07, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Utterly ridiculous. Day One: North Korea invades South Korea; completely independently Russia renews a recent war with China by launching tactical nukes; also completely independently there is an (attempted) military coup in Russia but the coup leader mistakes five nuclear weapons fired at Moscow by China (combined with the US military call up because of the Korean situation) as an attack by the US (even though the US are/were allies against China in the recent war) so he launches a nuclear atta ...more
Paul Downs
Jun 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I read this a long long time ago, as I remember it it was a fantastic interwoven story told from several perspectives (President, Presidents Men, down to the boots on the ground) of the politics and reality of a nuclear war with Russia. It includes the Russian perspective too.

The feeling of a simple situation spiralling ever out of control and leading to the direst of conclusions is strong in my memory.

The story is deftly told, the information realistic and it contains I
...more
William
Jul 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of Military thrillers
An absolutely enjoyable read. The subject matter was frightening but moved along at a rapid clip. This is a must read for the fan of the military thriller. I had a little trouble with some of the technical jargon but overall it was written in a style that made it flow easily. The only part that was hard for me to swallow was the concept of that many warheads raining down without total annihilation.
Michael Shaw
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best techno thriller books I have read. Better than Clancy's Red Storm Rising. I don't know if I prefer it to Team Yankee, but the two books have are different enough that both provide an excellent view on possible modern World Wars.
Clark
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks
Want to know what World War III would be like? Read this book. Although it was written in 1994, the author has done extensive research and vividly describes what a nuclear conflict would do to the world. Needless to say, a nuclear war should be avoided at all costs. Nuclear weapons in the hands of civilized nations is bad enough but, if a country like Iran gets nuclear weapons, we will be on the brink of Armageddon.
Hilary
The pervasive Cold War paranoia is dated, but the technical/military manouvers seem up-to-date. The quotes at the the beginning of chapters were well-chosen. I liked this one, from H.G. Wells, "The World Set Free," (1914): "Humanity has been compared...to a sleeper who handles matches in his sleep and wakes to find himself in flames."
Marcin
Jun 18, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A good "World War III" book set (and written) in the late 90s. Involves a limited nuclear conflict, and the war between the US and Russia that follows. As is the case with most books of this nature the character development is kind of lacking, but it is an interesting story and gives an good look at big picture military operations, as well as infantry/armor tactics.
Craig
May 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this book ages ago and loved it. So much so that I'm going to buy it again and re-read it and that's saying something for me. Very much a high octane technothriller. Shame he doesn't write any more.
Chuck
Apr 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Russia inadvertently launches a nuclear attack on the U.S.of A. We
retaliate. I nearly put this one down thinking that I was looking at 500
pages of grim, post war misery. I'm glad that I read on. This is a good
story.
Brian Turner
Feb 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: action
Set at an unspecified future time, the USA and Russia head into World War 3.
There's a lot of suspense all the way through the novel, as plot and counter-plot are acted out.
Good characters, not all of whom are immune to the unfolding horrors.

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Raised in a small town in Mississippi, Eric L. Harry graduated from the Marine Military Academy in Texas and studied Russian and Economics at Vanderbilt University, where he also earned a J.D. and M.B.A. In addition, he studied in Moscow and Leningrad in the USSR, and at the University of Virginia Law School. He began his legal career in private practice in Houston, negotiated complex multinationa ...more
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