Thursday, December 27, 2018

And don't neglect Kratman's near-future history series.

Countdown: The Liberators. By Tom Kratman
Well, this is a revolting development. I haven’t finished Kratman’s excellent A Desert Called Peace series, but got turned on to his Countdown series, of which this is book one. Though I have both a very good military history and an excellent political book started, this came when I needed a little escapism. And make no mistake, this adventure fantasy is escapism. So I started it—and finished it without taking up the others. I’ll now have to order the next two. Sigh. If only books came with the extra time to enjoy them. I know, and have recommended, Kratman as a writer of wonderful military science fiction. This book is more of a thriller, set in the too-near future to really be called SF. It is a future that is easily discernable from the converging lines of our deteriorating civilization today. More and more, Kratman reminds me of my favorite escapist novel writer, W.E.B. Griffin, in his terrific characterization of people you’d like to know well, and people you’d stand in a long line in the hot sun to get a shot at. But his plotting and presentation, especially about planning and executing military operations are, if anything, more detailed and authentic than Griffin’s. If Griffin can be called a historical novelist, Kratman is a future=history novelist. He understands how warriors talk, think and act. Kratman is a retired Army LtCol, but has a terrific grasp of all aspects of war: air, land and sea. If you want to see what an unpleasant future will look like, and what men and women of courage will have to do to cope with the brave new world that’s, alas, coming, you can hardly do better than to enjoy one of Kratman’s novels.

Countdown: M Day By Tom Kratman
I know, I usually give you recommendations on great non-fiction in history, politics and economics. I’ll get back to it, have just needed a little escapism lately. I was happily about a quarter into Victor Davis Hanson’s excellent history of the Peloponnesian war, A War Like No Other, when this book, the second in the series, came in the mail, along with the third one. No problem, I thought, I’ll put them in the pile and think about what’s next after Hanson. But I was going away for the weekend, and a paperback was easier to

Countdown: H Hour By Tom Kratman
Since I usually recommend non-fiction history, political and economic books, I was going to skip reviewing this novel. First, I’m a little annoyed with Kratman, in that he doesn’t seem to be able to write these things as fast as I can read them. He was an officer, after all, and I expect a little more attention to my edification. Second, I reviewed the first two books in this series, so I’m running out of superlatives. If you read both of those, chances are you will read this one without my recommendation. And while it can stand alone, I recommend you read the series in order. But Kratman does such an entertaining job of describing realistic military violence, and has such a frightening, reality-based world view of how civilization is collapsing as we watch, that I had to put in another plug. In his “Afterword” (which covers ground he talked about in his science fiction novels, but should be read by every American) he says he is asked if he expects things will really get as bad as depicted in these action novels of the near future. His response is that he expects things to get much worse—that the books only depict the early stages of what is happening to our world. I wish I didn’t think he was right. As with his other novels, there are some running gags, one-liners and historical and literary quotes that make the book an especially great value.

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