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Special Ops: A Brotherhood of War Novel Hardcover – January 15, 2001

4 out of 5 stars 146 customer reviews
Book 9 of 9 in the Brotherhood of War Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Bestselling author W.E.B. Griffin, whose novels about various branches of the military have won him battalions of fans, returns to the Brotherhood of War series with this crackling yarn. A detachment of Special Forces hotshots teams up with presidential counselor Sandy Felter to put a stop to Che Guevara's attempts to "liberate" the Congo from President Joseph Mobutu's anticommunist government.

Under Felter's direction, the Green Berets dispatch a special detachment to the Congo. Their mission is to convince Mobutu of the wisdom of the American plan to discredit and humiliate Che and his Cuban troops, rather than martyr him, and thus bring an end to his plan to export Castro-style communism to Africa and South America. Repelling the Simba insurgents with help from forces led by South African mercenary Mike Hoare, Mobutu accepts the plan, along with the Green Beret's covert assistance, war materiel, and a fighting force manned by many of the characters who peopled The Aviators, Griffin's last Brotherhood adventure. Yes, fans, the good guys are back--especially flying ace Jack Portet, (a pilot drafted into the army right out of Leopoldville, where he was helping his father run a regional airline), George Washington "Father" Lunsford, and Master Sergeant "Doubting" Thomas. And a lot of them are black, a talented crew of African American airmen and specialists pressed into the Special Forces not just because they're brave and able but because they can pass as Congolese soldiers and thereby keep the American presence under wraps.

As a matter of historical fact Guevara failed badly in the Congo, and after retreating to Cuba, tried the same gambit in Bolivia, where he eventually died under fire and gained the martyrdom the U.S. tried so hard to prevent. But Special Ops offers a close-up look at a little-known piece of military history in a gloriously testosterone-pumped epic, seasoned with a touch of sex and romance. That may seem incongruous, given Griffin's clipped, terse writing style, which is punctuated with plenty of military dispatches and a few gratuitous growls at the internecine rivalry among American intelligence agencies. It's even more incongruous when the general's daughter gets the flying ace, and her father's highly placed friends not only get Portet an officer's stripes but fly her to the Congo to stand by her man. But none of that will stop Griffin's delighted readers from snapping up his latest chronicle of men at war. --Jane Adams

From Publishers Weekly

Newly initiated readers of Griffin (The Fighting Agents) will find the latest in the Brotherhood of War series strongly reminiscent of modern American military classics From Here to Eternity and The Winds of War. Longtime Griffin faithful, eager since 1988's The Aviators for the next BOW installment, will deem this '60s action drama well worth the wait. Fresh from disobeying orders on a rescue mission to the Congo in November 1964 (and receiving two medals for his heroic efforts), former airline pilotDnow Green Beret Sgt.DJack Portet is promoted to lieutenant and assigned to Top Secret Special Operations under Col. Sanford T. Felter, adviser to the president. CIA sources report that Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara is going to the Congo to establish a major Communist foothold in Africa, before moving on to South America. LBJ, with counsel from Felter, decides that it would be better politics to humiliate Guevara in the Congo than to elevate him to martyr status by killing him. To that end, Portet, Felton and Maj. George Washington "Father" Lunsford persuade Joseph Mobutu, president of the Republic of the Congo, to allow a crack unit of African-American Green Berets, all fluent in Swahili, to carry out the assignment. The Special Ops manage to chase Che out of Africa only to see him try to gain power in Bolivia. His writing enriched by new, fully developed characters, Griffin also reprises BOW favorites Craig Lowell, Robert Bellmon, Geoff Craig and William "Doubting" Thomas as he renders an intricately layered, epic novel of the fascinating machinations of international politics and the life and passions of the men who make it happen. Given Griffin's track record with military adventureDhe launched the Lieutenants of the Brotherhood in 1982Dthe audience for this rouser is ready and waiting. (Jan.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Series: Brotherhood of War (Book 9)
  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (January 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399146466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399146466
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,083,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
After reading all the positive reviews for this book, I feel like maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. But I can't help thinking that somebody else contributed heavily to this book. It just doesn't feel like Griffin's dialogue. And who edited this book? Johnny Oliver and Jack Portet get mixed up, and I thought the version of the M16 used by Special Forces soldiers during that era was known as the CAR 15...(Griffin calls it a Car 16) As usual, Griffin has changed the story line from past books to make things fit into this story. (Take a close look with how he has played with Lowell's and Felter's pasts) And why can't Guevara actually be used in the story instead of being referred to in dozens of Top Secret messages? I don't know....I really like Griffin's Corps Series...and all the other Brotherhood books I thoroughly enjoyed...but this one was a struggle just to finish. But it's nice to see the characters brought back to life. I hope that if he does so again the story will flow a little more smoothly.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Griffin has written twenty books better than this, including the first half dozen books in the Brotherhood of War Series (this title is number 9 in the series) plus the eight titles in his Marine Corps series "The Corps." I would suggest that a new reader of Griffin start with the first book in one of these series and read them in order.
"Special Ops" is about the attempt of the U.S. military to defeat and discredit Che Guevara's revolutionary ambitions in the Congo in the mid-1960s. It might have been a great book had Che been a living, breathing character, rather than being seen only from afar.
Griffin seems tired of his old military heros, the best of whom is Craig Lowell, who is brave, good-looking, intelligent, irresistible to women, and filthy rich. Somehow, despite all that, you still like Craig, whose shortcomings are that he's always in trouble and gets more medals than he does promotions. He is still around in this book, but Griffin focuses on a younger group of soldiers who are only only bleary, second-rate copies of the original Craig Lowell.
Griffin's strong point has been the authenticity he has been able to bring to U.S. military culture. However, in "Special Ops" Griffin seems to have pulled out of a hat all his old literary tricks and reused them, changing the characters and the scenes a bit but relying on the tried and true -- and the now trite for readers familiar with his other books. Moreover, he makes mistakes, probably due to haste, as other reviewers have pointed out.
Don't read this book. Read the first book in Griffin's series, "The Lieutenants" or the first book in his Marine Corps series, "Semper Fi." At his best, Griffin is a great writer about war and the U.S. military, but "Special Ops" is not one of his best books.
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Format: Hardcover
W. E. B. Griffin is a very prolific, and very popular, writer. He has five series currently in place: The Brotherhood of War, The Corps, Badge of Honor, Honor Bound, and Men at War. (The Men at War series was published originally under the pseudonym of Alex Baldwin, and was not carried to conclusion. Republished in hardcovers under Griffin's name, it has been very successful-maybe Griffin will now finish the story line.) The Brotherhood of War series really established Griffin as a popular writer, and was carried to its conclusion. He later wrote a new entry, The Aviators, which was roughly coincident with the series' main line book The Berets. He now repeats that with another companion piece set in the 1960's - Special Ops. Special Ops revisits (rehashes) some of the action from both The Berets and The Aviators, but in Griffin's "episodic" style these sections repeating those from the other books fit right in and make the current story coherent. Leaving them out would leave gaps for those who have not read, or have forgotten, the previous books. The "new" story is about a detachment of Special Forces troops, many of whom were met in the other books, who mount a clandestine operation to defeat, and discredit, Che Guevara's attempt to export Cuban communist revolution to Central Africa. Sandy Feltner, one of the ongoing characters in the series, is an intelligence counselor to President Johnson (as he has been to Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy). He sees the risk Guevara poses, while the CIA does not, and proposes Army-based covert operations aimed at embarrassing Guevara while foiling him, rather than assassinating him and thus creating a martyr.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Frankly, it was poorly written and not typical of Mr Griffin's superb talents. I think he owes all of his devoted readers an apology for this offering.
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Format: Hardcover
As a long time W.E.B. Griffin reader,I was pleasantly surprised that he resurrected the "Brotherhood of War" series. Perhaps Griffin's strongest suit is character development,and in this novel he has demonstrated that ability with particular flair. This novel deals with a time period during the so-called "cold war" when Castro's Cuba was just beginning to be perceived as a major threat not only to the Caribbean,but to the entire western hemisphere. It involves most of the characters previously introduced by Griffin in his previous "Brotherhood" series,most notably Craig Lowell and Sanford T."Sandy" Felter. After an action filled Chapter One in which the former Belgian Congo is introduced as the scene of action,the story line pursues the planning,and execution of the plans,developed to effectively neutralize Ernesto "Che" Guevara's efforts to "liberate" the Congo. Several new and interesting personae are introduced,including "jack" Portet and a more highly developed George Washington "Father" Lunsford. We also get a brief "Griffin" glimpse of LBJ. After the Special Forces operation in the Congo concludes,the story line and it's execution become a little nebulous due to many pages worth of extracts of CIA communications,which in turn,lead to a somewhat weak conclusion to the novel. Had the ending been as strong as the rest of the book,it would have rated 5 stars instead of the 4 stars I gave it.
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