A handful of American drug-enforcement agents and their Green Beret defenders slug it out with hundreds of Cuban regulars and Shining Path guerrillas in the cocaine country of the Peruvian highlands. Naval veteran Iverson (Persian Horse, 1991) can't resist bringing in a battleship to help out. It's the near, post-Soviet future and Congress's long knives are out, flensing America's military with a vengeance. National Security Advisor Ruth Campbell, a Jeane Kirkpatrick type (but, you know, attractive), is about the only high-level official fighting to keep the might in the Pentagon—but since the only current military action is the small, shadowy war against the South American drug industry, she's up against the wall. That little war, however, is about to erupt. Fidel Castro, having lost his Soviet bankers, has cut his country into the drug deal and stands to lose cash flow if Peruvian-American efforts root out the coca farmers and dealers, so he commits his well-trained army to an alliance with the Maoist maniacs of the Shining Path. In conjunction with an attempted coup, the Communists launch an all-out surprise attack on an army base camp and on a satellite base manned by DEA agents. The good guys are quickly reduced to a naval patrol boat skippered by a Samoan chief, a few embarrassed drug agents, and some very angry Special Forces. The Andean guerrillas and Maria, their fanatical female leader, smell a bloody victory; the Cubans and their colonel aren't so sure. The Americans usually have a few technogadgets up their sleeves. And, indeed, the about-to-be-mothballed battleship Missouri, on its final South Pacific cruise, just happens to be carrying some very smart weapons. Techno-thrills take a backseat to rousing, low-tech heroics and unusual battle scenes. Big bangs for the buck.
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