If you think this one sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve written more detailed reviews of each of the books in the trilogy. However, when Mr. Peters sent me the review copy for the third, he requested I post the review under the trilogy which is how the books are now sold.
You can see my detailed reviews under the relevant titles: Power Games, Shock & Awe, and The Surge.
Review: Operation Enduring Unity, R. A. Peters, 2015.
No plan survives first contact with the enemy.
Our story starts with an assassin taking a shot at a presidential candidate. He misses, the ricochet killing the candidate he does favor. That sets the tone of this book, a story full of accident and misunderstanding and miscalculation.
Sure, the initial set up is improbable, but the consequences after that aren’t. Peters even brings in real military and political precedents from American history.
Sure, there’s satire but not of the arguments that the major political parties make on cable news. It’s a commentary on the bad uses politicians, out of ignorance and ambition and naiveté, put the military to. And normal calculations of cost and benefit go out the window once blood is spilled. There is so little conventional partisan politics that, apart from the brief party identifications of the three presidential candidates, you almost forget who belongs to which party.
What’s mostly here is the thrill, perverse though it may be, of modern, combined arms war waged on American soil by and against Americans. They know each other’s’ tactics, doctrine, and equipment. And, unlike the First American Civil War, the Second doesn’t break nicely on geographic lines. Modern communications means the enemy can be anywhere.
The other big element is that the fortunes of war can change very quickly. Victory, in the propaganda and shooting wars, shifts rapidly here.
Peters also introduces some new weaponry that seems plausible. For all I know, you can already buy some of this stuff.
Peters brings the sort of sardonic, dark humor to his story that combat veterans almost always seem to have to some degree. And he knows how to pace a story. He uses a god’s-eye view that covers the battlefield, economics, politics, and logistics. He even makes his glossary of military terms and weapons amusing.
The characters are serviceable if unexceptionably drawn. They fall in the categories you would expect for this sort of story: soldiers on both sides, a journalist, and politicians. But even the characters who are only around for a chapter to show you the war’s newest horror manage to generate some empathy.
The best drawn is Sophie Kampbell. Radicalized after Federal troops accidentally kill her boyfriend in California, she joins a privately funded militia. We also get the fearsomely deadly Command Sergeant Brown who wrecks a great deal of havoc. He exhibits a fierce devotion to his men’s safety and honor, but he’s also responsible for escalating the war. He seems, along with another character, to be Peters showing that it might not be enough for a professional military man to take legitimate orders and take care of his comrades.
More than one combat veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq (which Peters is) comments on their disgust at being in a civil war complete with civilian insurgents.
This is a satire on American politics gone really bad and, as satires are supposed to do, Peters even offers his political solutions to some of the troubles of American politics.
Very enjoyable and with a surprising amount of realism.
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