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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Search and Rescue
The Liberators (2011) is the first military fiction novel in the Countdown series. In Afghanistan, a US Army colonel reacted to a call from one of his Special Forces team. They had been called in to back up a SEAL team that had lost some men to the insurgents and were taking fire. The colonel arrived with a company of Afghan commandos.

Although the colonel...
Published on January 25, 2011 by Bill Jordin

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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Countdown: The Liberators
I couldn't tell if this was a disguised manual on how to build a mercenary military including army, air force, navy and marines for a well intentioned modern warlord, or if someone dared Kratman to see how many pages he could write.

I consider myself a Kratman fan, but to me the story got lost in the military tedium. Too many subtropics , subplots and...
Published on March 3, 2011 by Paul D. Perry


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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Search and Rescue, January 25, 2011
By 
Bill Jordin (Suwanee, GA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Countdown: The Liberators (Countdown (Baen)) (Mass Market Paperback)
The Liberators (2011) is the first military fiction novel in the Countdown series. In Afghanistan, a US Army colonel reacted to a call from one of his Special Forces team. They had been called in to back up a SEAL team that had lost some men to the insurgents and were taking fire. The colonel arrived with a company of Afghan commandos.

Although the colonel retrieved the bodies of the captured SEALS, higher command was embarrassed by his methods. The commanding general refused to courtmartial the colonel, but instead threatened retaliation against his men. The colonel resigned, but so did all his men as well as the SEAL team.

In this novel, Wes Stauer had been in the US Army for thirty years. He had been in Afghanistan for three straight years and had four other tours before that. He and virtually everyone else in Afghanistan felt like they were losing the war.

Wahab is an Islamic African tribesman. He has come to America to ask Wes to rescue the abducted son of his Chief.

Adam is the only son and heir of Khalid, Chief of the Marelan tribe. He was attending school in Boston, Massachusetts, before his abduction.

Philomena Potter is an ER nurse. Phillie is getting tired of all the government paperwork. She is living with Wes.

In this story, Wes has retired in San Antonia, Texas. He has not found a job that interests him, but he has enough money to not really need a job. He and Phillie are comfortable together, but Wes is really bored.

When Wahab shows up -- at three in the morning -- Wes tells him that there is no way to rescue Adam without knowing his whereabouts. Wes installs Wahab in the spare bedroom and goes back to bed. During the night, however, he has a brainstorm.

After rudely waking Wahab at O-dark-hundred, Wes asks Phillie to make breakfast and starts using the phone. By noon, men are showing up at the front door asking "Free Beer?" Soon the house is turned into a special operations headquarters.

Phillie wonders at the changes in Wes. He had been mildly depressed, but now he is filled with energy. After listening to the planning, she asks to be included in the medical section.

The team hasn't yet finished an operations plan, but they have already decided on the dealer to provide their weapons and ammunition. They also want a very expensive ship and ask Wahab whether to buy or lease. He tells them to lease.

Wahab does approve purchasing several plots of land for manufacture and training. Yet Khalid wants to keep the land in Brazil. Wes remains the owner of record on all the other property.

They learn how Adam was taken from the US. The George Galloway is owned -- through dummy corporations -- by Al Qaeda. Although Adam is probably long gone, they decide to take the ship.

This tale is about the development of a mercenary group from scratch. Most of the group are professional soldiers who are friends of Wes or friends of friends. Others join along the way.

This novel is similar to the first volume -- A Desert Called Peace -- in the Carrera series. But this story only involves a reinforced battalion much like that in the later Ghost series. Yet Wes has big plans.

The plot has a many twists and a few major problems, but the rescuers overcome all obstacles. The next installment in this series -- M Day -- takes them on another mission.

Highly recommended for Kratman fans and for anyone else who enjoys tales of professional soldiers, special operations, and faithful women.

-Bill Jordin
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What we'd do for one more mission..., February 4, 2011
This review is from: Countdown: The Liberators (Countdown (Baen)) (Mass Market Paperback)
I was salivating for this book to come out from the time Tom first posted snippets of it on the Baen web site. I still wish Baen had gone with the original title "D Minus X", but I acknowledge those not conversant with military timings might mistake it for an algebra problem.

Yes, I acknowledge the criticism some have voiced that it's a recasting of "A Desert Called Peace", with many of the same characters recognizable. When you're writing a military novel after a lifetime in the profession, you know a wide range of people, including the ones you would call on again if there was one more mission that required our professional services. Both novels, though different in setting, deal with groups of old soldiers coming together for one more go-round. If I was given the mission and budget to form a unit from scratch to accomplish a task, I know who I would call, and Tom is no different. Even if some of those men are no longer with us, and we won't see them again until we meet at the Great VFW In The Sky, we'd want them with us.

I'll leave the plot synopses to other people. I'll just say that after almost four decades in and around the Army, no one writes about soldiers like Tom Kratman except maybe John Ringo. He's better at it than Web Griffin, and twice as good as Tom Clancy. Maybe Stephen Hunter is a little bit better at the cinematics of gunpowder-fuelled violence, but Hunter doesn't do battalion-size operations let alone describe how to staff them.

As for the subject material: If there is any military veteran who wouldn't want just one more good mission, one more good mission with good men and no bull***t command overhead, I dare him or her to raise their hand. Who among us wouldn't want to get back together with the guys, train again, and do a mission worth doing before we're too old and decrepit to do so? Who of us who once wore the uniform wouldn't want "the sense that our youth was in our hands, to spend again as we wish"? Who wouldn't want to "sense our purpose" again? And yes, that is a paraphrase of a line in Chapter 3.

Not a day goes by that I don't wish an old commander of mine would call me early in the morning and say "Hey, Dan, come on over. Free beer." Until that time, I'll just reread "Countdown". Maybe the call will come tomorrow.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes Dogs of War look barely readable, February 1, 2011
This review is from: Countdown: The Liberators (Countdown (Baen)) (Mass Market Paperback)
Tom Kratman's latest novel is a thrilling, pointed look at what it would take to create a modern mercenary force for a specific mission. Detail doesn't override story telling here though. Characters are well detailed and the action is sure to satisfy. As is the norm for Tom's novels he is particularly blunt concerning politics, personnel interactions, and takes the topic of homosexuality in military forces head on. Don't miss this first book in the Countdown series.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Countdown: The Liberators, March 3, 2011
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This review is from: Countdown: The Liberators (Countdown (Baen)) (Mass Market Paperback)
I couldn't tell if this was a disguised manual on how to build a mercenary military including army, air force, navy and marines for a well intentioned modern warlord, or if someone dared Kratman to see how many pages he could write.

I consider myself a Kratman fan, but to me the story got lost in the military tedium. Too many subtropics , subplots and characters got lost in the order of battle.

Was this his answer to the movie version of The Longest Day, or was this his book version of Atlas Shrugged? At times it felt like weeks on the rack. The story was long and stretched. It was a chore to read.

The book was narrowly saved by Kratman's knowledge of military organization and the topic itself but only just. I have some goodwill for Kratman based on his other books. This book dipped into that well.

Will I buy the next book in this series? Maybe, but only on the hope that the next book is tighter and more focused, no guarantees.

Paul D. Perry
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Building a mercenary force, 101, February 13, 2011
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This review is from: Countdown: The Liberators (Countdown (Baen)) (Mass Market Paperback)
True to form, Tom Kratman sells you a fun military action novel. Then, when you scratch the surface, you realize he actually wrapped it around a military science textbook. It's fun, but it also makes you think. In this case, Tom Kratman is figuring out what it would take to build a mercenary force in this day and age. Starting with the kind of problem that would best be solved by mercenaries, going into training (outsourced, by using veterans of national forces), equipment procurement, etc.

One of my favorite subjects he gets into is the intersection of military action and sexual attraction. Tom Kratman is opposed to the integration of sexually compatible people (heterosexuals of both genders, or homosexuals of either gender) in combat units (see The Amazon Legion: N/A). But he doesn't shy away from discussing it, especially ways to make it work. The psychology and sociology are extremely interesting, even if you're not involved in the military beyond the "they protect me" level.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kratman's best?, February 27, 2011
By 
Rodger Raubach (Converse County ,WY USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Countdown: The Liberators (Countdown (Baen)) (Mass Market Paperback)
I titled this review "Kratman's Best?" Yes, for sure, this is the best novel to date by the author.

I'm not going to give another laborious blow-by-blow synopsis of this tale of derring-do, as others have already done so. But this novel has so many good features that they are all hard to enumerate! Characters: We are introduced to the major character, Colonel Wes Stauer, in the bloody prologue, along with "Biggus Dickus" Thornton, and several other ot the major players. Stauer is sunsequently forced into retirement for these actions in combat.

The story is of a intertribal kidnapping of the only son of a clan chief by members of a competing clan. Colonel Stauer is called upon to help find and rescue the young man, and in so doing, builds a formidable mercenary legion from his similarly retired "colleagues." The tale flows well, and is interspersed with awesome violence, clever planning, dark humor, and a few Kratman-esque political barbs. I enjoy his barbs.

In passing, I will note that the character development was excellent. I'm big on character development. I always felt that W.E.B. Griffin was the master of the military Genre; enter the new master, Colonel Kratman.

Thankfully, this is the start of a new series!!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read if you like Military Novels, February 1, 2011
This review is from: Countdown: The Liberators (Countdown (Baen)) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is a contemporary recasting of the themes in Kratman's Patrick Carrera novels ( Desert Called Peace, Carnifax, Lotus Eaters ). If you like Clive Custler's Oregon Files novels but wish that they had some body, some substance and a realistic plot then this is the book for you. If you want action, adventure, good guys versus bad but you also like depth, thought and and a plot then this is the book you want. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars PRETTY GOOD MERCENARY FANTASY, June 18, 2014
By 
ilbob (Northern IL) - See all my reviews
An old soldier gets a late night visit from an old buddy asking for his help in rescuing the son of his chief who has been kidnapped by another tribal chief in Somalia.

It is pretty good as the genre goes. The action scenes are pretty believable and a lot of fun although nothing else is really believable.

I did not think it was likely that a minor Somalian warlord had the $100 million needed to spend on a mercenary outfit to rescue his son (the book claims he stole it from the UN and other do gooders, which I have to admit I enjoyed).

It is just light fun.

The author wants you to believe that somehow these mercenaries are in it to save civilization from its impending doom. Not likely, but an interesting take on things.

I bought this years ago as an ebook from the publishers web site. It was a good read back then and is still a good read, but one needs to keep in mind it is fiction. But still fun.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Readable, October 20, 2013
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This review is from: Countdown: The Liberators (Countdown (Baen)) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is a book that starts out with the lead character committing what would be called an atrocity today. Shooting captives and turning women and children over to slavery. Not that they weren't warned. So the colonel retires because he is some kind of demigod with to many upper echelon types. Soooo he gets approached by an African clan whose only heir has been kidnapped by a rival clan. Not bad so far. Now this clan has tens of millions of USD to spend based on the costs laid forth in the book. Anyway the colonel, Stauer, gets his loot and starts to put together a large military force including land, air, and water forces. He recruits all the old retired or discharged people he can get a hold of and uses an arms dealer that they break out of jail to supply a lot of their weapons needs. They go to the Amazon forest for the training and work ups. They are there several weeks, which does make sense since they are arming and working up from scratch, not an established, functioning unit. There are two of the old farts that hook up with much younger women, this I am not sure about as in my experience young women only look for older guys who are sugar daddy's. I gave a pass on the number of pages devoted to all the training and mobilization since it is a scratch start up. Some of the action I do find a little questionable. Such as the scene where Fulton executes 50+ armed Muslim men who are stoning a young girl that has been raped. They are stoning her because she had sex out of marriage. I just love the stupidity of Sharia law, they are so anally retentive for the male. Any way Fulton shoots all of them and gets o return fire. Now I realize that most of them ran away but it seems to me that a few would have tried to return fire. Lastly when the entire force finally goes in to action it is so spread out that I could actually stop reading it at any time. Usually I just keep on reading when the action starts until it is over.
PS if you are a radical Muslim I don not think you will enjoy this book. I did though.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good tale of might for Right, August 13, 2013
I wanted to read a Kratman novel, and this one starts a series (I think.) The tale hangs together well as the leader puts together an elite fighting force for use as a mercanery force to do good for a sponsor against mideast radicals (for a small reason.) The battles are realistic (people die) and the pressures of command are faithfuly portrayed. The denouement of the noel sets up the start of the mercenary force to fight against the evils in the world - and for the individual libertarian ideals.

Good read, I can't wait to pick up the next novel.
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Countdown: The Liberators (Countdown (Baen))
Countdown: The Liberators (Countdown (Baen)) by Tom Kratman (Mass Market Paperback - January 25, 2011)
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