Harry's first novel is all gloom and doom, an appropriate tone for his World War III scenario. When US President Livingston receives a tip that Russia will bomb China, he informs the Chinese, who then bomb Moscow, where General Zorin, a zealous patriot, has temporarily overthrown the government. Believing the attack to be a US initiative, Zorin launches a counterstrike against US military bases. In the tense moments before the missiles strike, Livingston gives in to military pressure and retaliates, fueling a war featuring biological, chemical, and possibly nuclear weapons. Zorin's coup is ended by the Russians, but his firing plan remains in effect: If provoked, nuclear submarines will fire upon 304 American cities. Livingston, whose decency and common sense have become political liabilities, is impeached and succeeded by his ""California Enviroweenie"" veep, who has become an opportunistic warmonger. Livingston's last supporter among the White House staff is Greg Lambert, the bright young national security advisor who may be able to negotiate with the few peace-seeking Russian statesmen. The bloody, conventional land battles feature David Chandler, the weekend reservist who leads an armored battalion in an invasion of Moscow in bis first combat experience; and Marine Lance Corporal Terrence Monk, whose squadron faces an opposed landing on the eastern Russian shore. Descriptions of the physiological responses to nuclear and chemical warfare are jarring, but the secondary effects are surprising, too. After nuclear devastation in some US locations, the government contends with an economic depression caused by fearful workers who have fled the cities and sit glued to CNN and the Weather Channel. A grim tale which so successfully evokes the bleakness and terror of an impending world war that it could depress contemplative readers while titillating those just out for techno-thrills.