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SOAR by John  Weisman


by John Weisman

Pub Date: Aug. 5th, 2003
ISBN: 0-06-052409-X
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Acronym-encrusted, jargon-heavy, military shoot-’em-up.

The appeal of Richard Marcinko’s Rogue Warrior autobiography, and subsequent Rogue Warrior novels (all written with Weisman), was that America’s fighters—like Marcinko—could grab the latest military hardware and win any fight, anywhere, anytime, and that the only real enemy they faced were incompetent bureaucrats who wouldn’t let our gung-ho guys (and gals) do their thing. Army Special Forces Major Mike Ritzik and the rest of the soldier-heroes Weisman introduces find more than enough reasons to share that frustration as they race to rescue a CIA team captured in the Chinese desert by Islamic Uzbeki separatist-terrorists who’ve stolen an old but lethal Chinese-made atom bomb. Fortunately, the straight-talking Secretary of Defense, Robert “Rocky” Rockman, as well as American President Pete Forrest, a pro-military Vietnam war veteran, put Ritzik’s mission on the front burner. America is about to sign a nuclear weapons reduction treaty with China, and the CIA team, posing as filmmakers, had been planting seismic listening devices to detect underground tests. Not only are the terrorists crazed (the leader kills one of the team on a caprice), but China has already dispatched soldiers to get its bomb back—and finding a covert CIA team along with the bad guys wouldn’t look good for the US. Ritzik assembles a crack team of Delta Force specialists with names like Rowdy and Ty but gets two extra passengers: beautiful but brainy Deputy Assistant Secretary of Energy Tracy Wei-Liu, the only person nearby capable of disarming the bomb; and Michael “Mickey D” Dunne, a Special Operations Air Regiment (SOAR) helicopter pilot. Snatching the CIA team from the terrorists is almost routine, but then there are Chinese troops arriving in helicopters.

Only experts will be able to keep in mind the differences between, say, an HIT helicopter and a HIND gunship, but so many crackerjack good guys, stirring esprit de corps, and spectacular explosions make for a suspenseful war fantasy.