Dragonstrike

Humphrey Hawksley, Author, Hawksley, Author, Simon Holberton, Author Thomas Dunne Books $26.95 (448p) ISBN 978-0-312-20531-7
Long on political detail and short on well-drawn characters, this debut thriller from a pair of British foreign correspondents posits a chilling nuclear standoff with China that remains compelling despite the lack of a conventional cast of characters. Conflict is sparked when the Chinese begin a series of preemptive strikes against the Vietnamese in the South China Sea, intent on taking several small islands to gain control of critical trade routes in the resource-rich region. At first the battle seems like a controllable local incident. But when the Chinese sink an American vessel attempting to rescue U.S. workers stranded on one of the islands as de facto political prisoners, tension escalates exponentially, driven by a series of border skirmishes between the Vietnamese and Chinese and an underground nuclear test conducted by Japan in response to the Chinese aggression. Rather than creating the usual cast of high-placed political characters to carry the story, the authors have chosen to make the representatives of the nations themselves the characters, via a relentless series of dispatches documenting in detail the various moves of China, America, Britain, France, India, Vietnam, Korea and Japan as nuclear war becomes imminent. Their device is a series of dense, detail-riddled reports that will appeal to CNN junkies. It's a tribute to both the power and plausibility of the plot that this ""narrative"" remains riveting despite the difficulties inherent in plowing through wire service-like prose, and this title seems likely to attract attention, especially in political circles. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/29/1999
Release date: 12/01/1999
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 438 pages - 978-0-330-35036-5
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