Firsthand knowledge is the strong suit in this fictional treatment of the disastrous involvement of the US Marines in Beirut. Dye, a former marine officer, wrote the novelization of the movie Platoon. In this telling, the events leading to the track-bomb slaughter of hundreds of sleeping marines seem as stupid and avoidable as some of the most senseless and useless massacres in the First World War. Misguided American policy decisions leading to the use of Marine troops as symbols rather than as soldiers continually placed the men in combat situations, yet without the authority to become involved or even properly defend themselves. Here, the stow follows marine corporal Steve Mallory, his combat-wise sergeant, and their fierce, outspoken colonel as they struggle to make the best of an impossible military situation--unaware that close by them, fanatical members of Hezbollah, an organization of Moslem fundamentalists loyal to Iran, plot their destruction. Mallory's involvement with the beautiful sister of one of the terrorists provides the Americans with warnings of possible disaster; but since the warnings do not fit in with American political strategy, they are largely ignored. Works fine as a (pessimistic) battle adventure, but the real strength is the close-up view of the murderous effects of a rotten political strategy.