The author of the best-selling sub-chaser, The Hunt for Red October, launches a bigger confrontation: the USSR takes on NATO for a deadly bout of conventional warfare. Islamic extremists sabotage a major Siberian oil field, leaving the Soviet Union faced with years of fuel shortages. The hawkish Minister of Defense convinces the Politburo to take desperate action: Soviet forces will first neutralize NATO, then invade the Persian Gulf and seize control of its oil. To buy time for the troops to prepare, the Russians make a major arms-control initiative. But Bob Toland, an analyst for the National Security Agency, notices and reports unusual activity. Soon forces everywhere are on full alert. Teams of elite Red Army troops attack selected West German targets and a shooting war is on. A US base in Keflavik, Iceland, is shocked by a Soviet air and sea assault. The valuable post is lost, but not before a canny Air Force weatherman, Mike Edwards, and a small band of men escape and head for the barren Icelandic outback, where they radio reports of Soviet activity to satellite intelligence. The capture of Iceland not only cuts down on effective defense against subs, it also gives the Russians a handy launching spot for air raids on the convoys that are bringing supplies and soldiers across the Atlantic to Europe. Edward Morris, commander of the U.S.S. Pharris, defends the convoys and tracks shadowy subs until his ship is crippled. In Germany, tank battalions attack and counterattack. Skipper Dan McCafferty leads a pack of US subs deep into the Barents Sea, where they let loose a volley of missiles that hit bases within the Soviet Union itself. Finally, the Soviets, hard pressed, contemplate a "limited" nuclear attack, but several sane men manage to propel the crisis to a negotiated happy end. Clancy populates both armies with intelligent and likable men, arms them with astonishingly powerful weapons (for some, the virtuosity of these high-tech arms will be the book's greatest appeal), and succeeds in keeping the action crisp, absorbing The breadth of activity precludes the neat structure of suspense that distinguised Red October. But, still, an informative, readable, sometimes dazzling speculation on superpower war.