An unusual and very well-done first novel--all about an intelligent young officer in Afghanistan who becomes involved with a daring military plot to influence the outcome of Politburo elections. America is worlds away in this story of a Soviet officer whose ability to think for himself brings him to the attention of the very freest minds in the Red Army. Dimitry Donskov is the young paratrooper who learns early in his career how to move along in the system without sacrificing his imagination or his reason. Donskov is much inspired by Boris Timofeyevich Korobchenko, a captain whose shrewd devotion to winning wars cannot compensate for his inability to stroke his superiors. Donskov takes his skills to the front in Afghanistan, where he Finds to his horror that the Red Army has totally hobbled its own intelligence-gathering abilities by adhering to completely inappropriate policies formed in other times for other wars. It becomes necessary for Donskov to assure his superiors that he follows their suicidal policies when, in fact, he has come up with his own, much more successful ways of finding out what the local guerrillas are up to. But he does not fool everybody. There are still some original thinkers in the army, and they are not taken in by Donskov's politeness. They spot him as just the man they need to see that the course of Russian history goes the way they think it should after the death of Premier Chernenko. Extraordinarily good military thriller. Bolger's mastery of Soviet military detail is matched with flesh-and-blood characters.