Thursday 26 June 2014

WW3: Red Storm Reading

Work stopped play today as I had to go to Birmingham (gutted to find Wayland's Forge has relocated from its city centre home so I couldn't pick up the brushes I wanted), so sat on the train I started to make a list of WW3 books to read (or in most cases re-read). Obviously there are not a lot of history books for WW3, but some of the fiction is very inspiring and at least one is written as a history book!

Kicking things off is General Sir John Hackett's The Third World War written in 1978 (with a follow up The Third World War: The Untold Story 1982). Written as a history book I loved this book as a teenager but haven't read it in decades. Telling the history of a war in August 1985 I need to dig it out asap.

The mother of all WW3 books of course is Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising, one of the first techno-thrillers and an epic book covering land, sea and air with the Soviet Union invading West Germany as part of a plan to cover up an energy crisis. The naval battles were apparently played out as a wargame using Harpoon by the author and Larry Bond. I re-read it a couple of years ago and enjoyed it immensely.

Another not read in a number of years in Harold Coyle's Team Yankee, recounting the battles of a company sized US armour unit in Hackett's war. Another I enjoyed immensely at the time that needs digging out and re-reading. Coyle subseqently wrote a number of other hypothetical war books with the US and Soviets fighting in the deserts of Egypt, the US fighting Mexico and a great, if slightly far fetched US v German troops in The Ten Thousand (essentially a reworking of Xenephon's Persian Expedition). The latter of course allows you to pitch Leopard II's against M1A1's so could provide some fun.

The war from the British perspective is told in Bob Forrest-Web's The Chieftains. This book used to be as rare as hen's teeth but is not fortunately available on Kindle. It has a very British feel to it and the ending is somewhat different to Clancy. Coyle etc.

Kenneth Macksey wrote a superb Operation Sealion book, Invasion, that I used to get out of the library a lot as a teenager. He also wrote First Clash detailing the Canadians efforts against the Soviets in West Germany and I have a copy somewhere that I can't recall reading.

The view from the other side of the hill is told by Ralph Peters in his book Red Army. I haven't read this one for a long time either but I recall it being well written concentrating on the Soviet soldiers more than the hardware.

There are of course others like James Rouch's Zone series set on an NBC wasted battlefield a few years in to the war and authors like Larry Bond who write some great techno-thriller alt-histories but set in Korea, South Africa etc but these are too divorced from the eighties NATO-WarPac slugfest I am currently interested in.


  1. I have read and enjoyed every one of these books - I was a Fulda Gap/WW3 gamer nut in the late 80s/90s as well. Still have some of these and recall Red Army being right up there with Red Storm Rising. When I was in my early Navy Days I was thrilled to do an exercise with USS REUBEN JAMES from the latter book!

    Nowadays this genre is too much like work to enjoy on the table so I play SF/VSF and earlier historicals instead :-) But I'll be watching with great interest!

  2. A great list- I've read all of them except Red Army- I'll keep an eye out for that one. Could I suggest Zaloga's Red Thrust too if you've not read it.