Gulf War II, albeit without the Coalition and with latter-day Persia as the foe, in this red-meat technothriller from old pro Brown (Storming Heaven, 1994, etc.). Three years short of a new millennium, Iran is rattling space-age sabers in an effort to gain dominion over the Strait of Hormuz, a choke point in the world's oil-supply line. At odds both with Arab neighbors allied to the US and with the Great Satan itself, the Islamic republic is armed, dangerous, and under the military command of a rash ultranationalist: General Hesarak al-Kan Buzhazi. Hostilities begin when Iran sinks an American spy vessel. In assessing response options, the new US president is all too aware that budget cuts and ill-advised peacekeeping missions have greatly weakened America's armed forces. Accordingly, the Chief Executive calls in the Intelligence Support Agency, a supersecret arm of the CIA. With a blank check from the White House, ISA quickly goes operational with a B-2A Stealth bomber. Under the expert guidance of Patrick McLanahan (an ex-USAF weapons officer), the all but undetectable aircraft and its on-board array of ordnance and electronic countermeasures raise merry (if deniable) hell with the Mideastern theocracy's defenses. Although down, Iran (which has concluded a mutual-assistance pact with Red China) is not out, and Buzhazi's air arm nearly figures out a way to shoot the lone shadow of steel from the sky. The B-2A's can-do crew rises to the occasion, however, and Tehran's officer corps pays a stiff price for its extremism. While the Yanks believe themselves clear victors at the close, there's reason to believe they may have to take on the PRC and its nukes in the next round. State-of-the-art action in the air, on land, and at sea from a master of the future-shock game.