Berent's US Air Force saga (Rolling Thunder, Steel Tiger, Phantom Leader) continues, taking his pilots and commandos into Laos and a late-1968 battle to protect a radar outpost. With only a few weeks to go before the presidential election, both the North Vietnamese and Lyndon Johnson are working on plans to swing the vote the way they want it to go. They both like Hubert Humphrey. President Johnson is getting ready to pull the plug on bombing north of the Demilitarized Zone, and the North Vietnamese are trying to choreograph the ``confession'' of a downed airman with a military action against the American radar base in Laos that controls much of the sky over their country. Recurring heroes Court Bannister and Wolf Lochert, pilot and supercommando, respectively, head for the threatened installation, pausing only for a little short, sweet, dalliance in Thailand. Meanwhile, fellow recurring hero and currently imprisoned pilot Algernon A. ``Flak'' Apple endures near-fatal beatings and psychological torture after almost escaping Hanoi. And Shawn Bannister, radical journalist, recurring villain and half-brother to Court Bannister, heads for Hanoi, unaware that he is being manipulated by Hanoi and Washington concurrently. If everything works out the way Hanoi plans, there will be dramatic revelations from the hospital in Hanoi at the very moment that either the North Vietnamese Army or their partners in socialist solidarity, the Soviets, overrun the radar. There is, by the way, a pretty but rather loose American lady hanging around the radar controls swilling gin and ogling the gents. Open your eyes for the flight and fight scenes, close them for the sex and politics.
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