THE THIRD WORLD WAR: The Untold Story by John Hackett
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THE THIRD WORLD WAR: The Untold Story

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In The Third World War: August 1985 (1979) soldier-scholar Sir John Hackett--with assists from military-expert colleagues--presented his quasi-fictional WW III forecast ""in only the broadest outline. . . ."" Now, therefore, again supposedly writing in 1987, he offers the same basic scenario in greater detail--with special attention to what was going on in '85 over in Israel, down in the Caribbean, up in Scandinavia, in Africa and the Far East. And also again, despite supposed eyewitness reports and occasional focus on Senior Lieutenant Andrei Nekrassov of the Red Army, the book reads less like a future-novel than like a roughly organized series of military/diplomatic essay-speculations. Thus, Hackett first reviews the state of NATO weaponry--nuclear and non. He details the air-warfare action during those three weeks of battle in August '85. He peeks in on Politburo debates. He sees Ireland as a passive accomplice of the Soviets, allowing Soviet warships to visit Irish ports (and lay mines) just before the war. He imagines the 1980s futures--and the wartime roles--of Sweden, Norway, Egypt, Libya, South Africa, Vietnam. (""So the clash between East and West did not spread to Asia as the countries of the region had feared. But that did not mean that nothing happened there. Far from it. . . ."") And there's even a section on ""Conflict in Space,"" with a nice introductory lecture on the powering and maneuvering of satellites. Hackett & Co. do quietly make some changes in their predictions--chiefly in response to the post-1979 changes in places like Iran, Poland, and Egypt. But their point-of-view remains firm--""if, in a dangerous and unstable world, we wish to avoid a nuclear war we must be prepared for a conventional one""--while their essentially cheery forecast (""our almost miraculous escape from total nuclear war,"" the relatively breezy NATO victory) remains less than fully persuasive. Still: the sheer detail this time around is awesome; the narrative is lean and chatty, however disjointed; the specifics are more uplift than Doomsday (See Russia collapse! See Egypt smash Libya!); and--with pseudo-photos and acronyms galore--there's an expanse of dense, technical browsing-pleasure here for war-games lovers and armchair diplomats alike.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1982
Publisher: Macmillan