It’s rare that a book comes along that out Clancy’s Clancy, but this is one of them. I first read the book when I was assigned to the 1st Armored Division in Germany. Our mission was to prevent the then Soviet Union from doing just what this book described.
I found it recently in a box of books, and decided to sit down a reread it. It was powerful then. It’s scary now.
Ralph Peters was an intelligence expert, and no doubt pored over plans and options that the Soviet Union might do to invade Europe. But rather than place his novel from our persepective like Tom Clancy did in Red Storm Rising, he puts us in the seat of Soviet tanks pouring through Fulda Gap into Europe. His rifleman are peering over sights at targets that happen to be our soldiers.
What it lays out is as invasion that is so hard and so fast, that by the time sufficient forces are marshaled against it, it’s too late. When NATO finally reacts, Germany, in a desperate bid to save people, asks Russia for a ceasefire.
The novel ends with the Russians in control of much of what Germany. American and allied forces are leaving. The Russians commander knows the war is a long ways from over.
Because of events, much about the book is obsolete. But the strategy and tactics are realistic, and the reason I found it frightening is that while much has changed in Europe, old threats seem to have a way of coming back. Today, there’s a healthy buffer between Germany and Russia. But as history and recent developments have shown, would the political will to stand against expansion still be there like it was thirty years ago?
What Peters wrote was our worst nightmare for those who would oppose the invasion. It still haunts me in my dreams.