Ancient enmities, political posturing, military ambition, presidential indecision, and cabinet-level perfidy--all combine to light off a nasty brushfire war on the Horn of Africa. Combat-veteran author Webb (Fields of Fire, A Country Such as This, A Sense of Honor) was briefly Secretary of the Navy. Readers hoping for a quick 'n' easy military solution to the Iraq crisis will have their hopes dashed by Webb's insider view of politics and war. The near-future hot-spot here is newly independent Eritrea, a desert country threatened by its former Ethiopian masters and Ethiopia's Cuban-led army. Eritrea's closest available help is the small, well-trained French force in nearby Djibouti and the American Marines steaming around the Arabian Sea. The French are ready to pitch in, and so is American Admiral Mad Dog Mulcahy, but there is politics to be considered. Among those doing the consideration are Illinois Congressman "Doc" Rowland and Secretary of Defense Ron Holcomb, whom Armed Forces Committee Chairman Rowland is happily cuckolding. Slimy, double-dealing, and very slick, Secretary Holcomb seems to favor an African war that would shoot down Rowland's efforts to punish Japan for selling technosecrets to the Russians. All the war needs to get started is a nudge in the right place. It will be up to the Marines and their capable Colonel Bill Fogarty to take the heat. Webb goes in for hand-to-hand combat with prose, but that's not what you read him for. You read him for his unique insights into the American political and military processes and for his exceptional intelligence.