Taut, well-crafted thriller about a nuclear stand-off in the waning days of the Nixon administration.
McCurdy’s book offers a microscopic view of the officers stationed at the Minuteman Missile System located at Missouri’s Whiteman Air Force Base during the 1970s. Based on actual events, McCurdy examines an aborted missile launch through the perspective of Lieutenant Gray Crawford, a crack Air Force officer stationed at the base. Crawford is a hero’s hero, a military wunderkind best suited to performing under duress. Readers will likely become captivated by Crawford–both as a man and a soldier–as he carefully ponders the fateful decision that, in the tensest days of the Cold War, will head off World War III. McCurdy was once stationed as a commander at Whiteman during the early ’70s and channels his experiences into the book, lending the story a level of detail and authenticity missing from other, more dilettantish military fictions. Access to recently declassified information flavors the narrative with a certain cache; the author’s claim that some of the stories have been, until recently, top secret only ratchets up the level of excitement. But McCurdy keeps the novel’s pace exhilarating with energetic prose and imaginative renderings. He turns the Launch Control Capsule (the underground command center where the Missile System team works) into a pressure cooker where anything can happen–a sort of militaristic soap-opera set. But Whiteman is not jingoist military fiction. McCurdy may pack his book with thrills, but he is also sure to communicate the heavy ethical burdens carried by the men who, day in and day out, have their fingers on the proverbial red button. This depth of characterization provides the book with a nuanced weight and texture that assures McCurdy’s novel serious consideration.
Fantastic, authentic military fiction.