cover image Red Phoenix

Red Phoenix

Larry Bond. Warner Books, $19.45 (588pp) ISBN 978-0-446-51433-0

Bond, Tom Clancy's collaborator on Red Storm Rising , here makes his first--and impressive--independent contribution to the technothriller. ``Red Phoenix'' is the code name for the novel's catalyst: a North Korean invasion of the south. Bond establishes a credible scenario of megalomanic North Korean leadership taking advantage of disruptions caused by ill-advised U.S. economic sanctions against the Seoul government. He then proceeds to ``refight'' the first weeks of the Korean War, this time with things done right, resulting in a kind of conflict for which U.S. forces are ideally suited: a mid-intensity conventional war for limited objectives. South Korea's government and armed forces prove resolute and efficient. The U.S. President declares a national emergency. The implied contrasts to Vietnam hardly seem accidental. But the nature of the response to the attack combines with the exponential discrepancy between the combatants' military strengths to make the novel's individual episodes more suspenseful than the course of the war as a whole. Bond's writing is strongest at the tactical and operational level. Whether describing infantry combat, air-to-ground attacks or anti-submarine operations, he demonstrates a sure grip on weaponry and military methods. His principal characters--the U.S. commanding general in Korea, an infantry lieutenant and his South Korean counterpart, an F-16 pilot--carry their parts of the story effectively, not least because Bond concentrates on what they do rather than on who they are. 100,000 first printing; major ad/promo; author tour. (June)