UNDER FIRE by W.E.B. Griffin


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The ninth paean to Griffin’s Marine Corps (Behind the Lines, 1996) makes for a whopping 32 blockbusters on his shelf: the Honor Bound, Brotherhood of War, Badge of Honor, and Men at War series.

The most recent volume in this series, 1999’s In Danger’s Path, was widely received as his most “sonofabitch” absorbing ever—sonofabitch being Griffin’s one swearword. Still covering the campaign against the Japanese, Path is set largely in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert (by presidential declaration, part of the Pacific ops of OSS during WWII) and features Brigadier General Fleming Pickering, appointed to head the Pacific arm of OSS, his son Malcolm (a kick-ass pilot called “Pick”), OSS Director Wild Bill Donovan, President Roosevelt, Admiral Nimitz, General Douglas MacArthur, Marine Sgt. Ed Banning, and Marine Captain Ken “Killer” McCoy, most of whom again show up as Griffin closes down the Pacific Theater and moves on to global politics, Marine ops, and intelligence work in Korea. Even at this many pages, Griffin can handle only the first six months of the Korean War, ending with MacArthur’s recapture of Seoul and his returning of the battered capital to President Syngman Rhee. In June, now as civilian owners of Trans-Global Airways, Fleming and son Malcolm break their own speed record for a scheduled commercial flight from San Francisco to Tokyo, where Ken McCoy shows Fleming his Top Secret report on the forthcoming North Korean offensive—a report that gets McCoy bounced from the Corps. For new readers, Griffin backfills with relish about his characters and Far Eastern politics until the war breaks on June 25th, Seoul falls, Griffin’s major characters reassemble, and MacArthur leads the retaking of Seoul, despite huge Marine losses, with Mal flying exciting combat missions and going down behind enemy lines.

The aborted Yalu River offensive and MacArthur’s firing by Truman offer richly blood-soaked ground for volumes ahead. Catchy dialogue that rouses like a sonofabitch.

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 2002
ISBN: 0-399-14788-8
Page count: 592pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2001


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