The War After Armageddon by Ralph Peters is one intense experience. Peters' ability to deal with small, intense scenes in his story adds a realism that is second to none.
The story is pretty straightforward. The antagonism between east and west has finally boiled over. Israel is gone, a wasteland. Many cities in the United States have been turned into desolate landscapes after dirty bombs have been exploded in the major centers and many European cultural centers have also been decimated. The United States in on a "crusade" (dare I use the word) to put an end to Islamic extremists. America is landing troops in what is left of Israel to once and for all capture the holy land, even if it is a radioactive desert. Warfare is back to its most fundamental elements with most of the advanced weapons disabled or neutralized because of counter electronics measures. Scenes in the book are almost medieval in their feeling. Lt. General Gary "Flintlock" Harris is a terrific character. Anyone who has been in the military will at once identify with General Harris; he is authentic. The dialog between characters is as real as you'd want it and not stiff and contrived.
The War After Armageddon illustrates one possible outcome to the tension gripping both east and west now and for the last fifty years. It illustrates what happens when reason is replaced with hatred and intolerance.
Ralph Peters' book is scary because of its plausibility. While you're turning the pages the realization is constantly with you that this could actually happen; we really are this close to the abyss. In fact, I experienced the same discomfort reading Peter's book as I did when I read One Second After by William R. Forstchen. Forstchen's book deals with nuclear weapons exploded in the atmosphere over the United States that throws us back into the stone-age because all electrical devices are rendered useless.
For the post apocalyptic crowd and those that enjoy an action packed read, The War After Armageddon is a book you'll want to read.
I highly recommend.
PEACE to all.
on September 15, 2009
Reading Ralph Peters' dark new novel, The War After Armageddon, is, in a way, much like driving by a grisly traffic accident - the view is horrific, but you just can't look away. Peters' novel is, indeed, compellingly horrific, the plot driven along by a realism that only a writer with this author's background, experience and vision can achieve and pass along to the reader in a dramatic narrative. Peters, today's most insightful strategist when observing in print or in his many TV appearances as guest commentator what is really taking place in the dangerous world around us, has the rare ability to think through and vividly imagine the second-, third-, and even fourth-order effects of policy decisions today's world leaders are making. The hellish world vision that Peters' describes in The War After Armageddon may on the surface seem far-fetched; yet, he's skillfully applied his superb insight as a strategist, experienced intelligence officer, and veteran world traveler to show us what might happen in a world where mankind's oldest motivators - faith and blood - have succeeded in trumping reason and good will.
on September 24, 2009
First off, this book is not the great American novel, or anybody's great novel. To assess the book from that perspective is to miss the author's point. Ralph Peters has a message for us, and that message is best delivered in a novel's format.
The message that Peters has is straightforward enough: beware the true believers on all sides lest they assume the powers they dearly believe are theirs. Democracy and its attendant privileges, often misunderstood as rights, is a most fragile affair. Peters argues that a cruel use of the nuclear genie by a few can cause a counter-reactionary avalanche that swallows the perpetrators, innocents, and what we understand as Western civilization's liberality all at once.
In his story, the only place of moral repose in severe crises, if we can call it that, is among the secular military. This small group, banished to backwaters by a religious government that fully supports an SS-like Military Order of the Brothers in Christ (MOBIC), retains the only sense of honor, duty and devotion to liberal principles within an America that has been violated by several nuclear explosions, all from true believers in the Middle East.
His characters generally are cardboard cut-outs. Don't read this to find a Prince Andre or a Pvt Cacciato or even a CPT Yossarian. Read this instead for the inter-connectedness of world ideas, events, and actions if things go wrong in a big way.
If you consider yourself a student of the military or military strategy, this book should be a foremost addition to your reading library. You may not like what you read, but it undoubtedly will make you think. And we must read these ideas, for the Hobbesian state of nature is not as far away as we would like to believe.
on October 1, 2009
Let me say first that I am a fan of Ralph Peters. I think The War in 2020 is one of my favorite novels. So when I heard he had a new book coming out called "The War After Armageddon" I was sold.
Having just finished the book, I have to say that I was a little disappointed. The whole experience did not feel "complete". In screen writing they say to "come into the scene late" and I feel that is what the author has done here. The attack on L.A. and Vegas are referred to by characters in the book, but we don't "see" much of the attack or the aftermath other than to hear about lots of people dying of radiation sickness. Same for the attackers in Europe and the Mid East; these are all past events that are a common experience for the characters in the book, but we are the outsiders since these events are not experienced by us. I'm willing to forgive this, since these are all events designed to "set up" the rest of the book.
But where he goes from there kind of loses me. America becomes Uber-Christian in response to the attacks and turns the National Guard into a Christian Military order and we launch a sort of "Second Crusade" to re-take the Holy Land. The book begins with the Marines and Army (alongside the new Christian National Guard Units) storming ashore. From there we jump back and forth between several different POV but never really get to know any of them in depth. The action is gritty and violent, but disjointed. Only our hero sees the real danger, and when the worst happens he's better prepared than any to "save the day", only he doesn't. (Trying not to spoil the book for those that have not read it.) In fact, everything our hero and his allies have been trying to do or avoid ends up coming to pass anyway. While I think it is quite refreshing to avoid the typical "Happy Ending", this feels a bit forced as if instead the author tried to create the Anti-happy ending.
I am also pretty sick of the "Christians are just as bad as Isalmic Terrorists" if we take either to extremes, which seems to be the warning of this book. The Uber-Chrisitians are perfectly willing to kill everyone and let the Man upstairs sort out who is who. I found those parts a bit over-the-top; none of the Uber-Christians have any redeeming qualities at all in the book. They seem to be more the bad guys than the guys were fighting. (Which, I suspect, was the authors intent.)
The other point the author tried to stress was our current reliance on technology. In this book, nothing works. The electronic jamming, EMP land mines and other nastiness is so bad that we must resort to old-style runners and smoke signals. I think the author went a bit too far with this point, in fact our most modern tanks become almost useless due to the reliance on "electronic armor" (whatever that is) and our planes will not fly at all. But for some reason unmanned drones are flying all the time wreaking havoc. Sure, we rely on our technological advantage as a force multiplier, but to think that it will simply go away because we lose some communication satellites and get jammed is a far stretch.
All griping aside, I enjoyed the ride. The characters were great, and I wish I'd gotten to know them a bit better. (It's always good when your left wanting more!) I'll buy his next book when it comes out. I wish he'd spent a bit more time and beefed this the book up more instead of coming into the scene late. I think this could have been a great book with another hundred pages to round it out. As it was, I enjoyed it but it felt a bit unfinished to me. Would I recommend it? Yes. Was it as good as The War in 2020? Not by a long shot. Three stars.
on September 16, 2010
As I read through Ralph Peters's book, I kept saying to myself, this cannot happen, this is a crazy and insane view of the USA's future. In the first chapter, the author explodes dirty bombs in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Milan, Rome, London and Manchester. Later in the first chapter the author explodes two more dirty bombs in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Over 10,000,000 people in the USA die of radiation poisoning. Then Israel and Iran destroy each other in a nuclear fury.
But, this story is not about those events. This story is about the USA reaction to these events and decision to take back what "Holy Lands" are left in the middle East.
I've actually read a story about the turning of the USA into a theocracy before. Or rather, turning the USA back from a theocracy into a republic again. Robert Heinlein wrote a book called "Revolt in 2100" several decades ago. It was about a very bloody civil war between the President-Prophets army and the movement to free the USA. Very, very bloody.
I hope beyond all hope that these events do not happen. Going down this road is fairly plausible and given the right amount of pressure, can happen. The USA will not be the better for it. While I am Christian, I have no desire to live in a theocracy.
Col. Peters is a good writer, and this book is an easy, if depressing read. He combines the skills of a writer, military analyst, and historian in a seamless web. There are many historical parallels in this book to figures and events of the past;for example General Simon Montfort is obviously modeled on Simon de Montfort of the Albigensian Crusade; and the campaign in Galilee had some relevance to the Horns of Hattin. I wonder who "Flintlock Harris" is modleled after? Much of this book is depressing, in its view not only of the Middle East, but of what America had become in reaction to terrorist attacks. I can only hope that this book is as accurate in predicting the future as Peter's "Red Army". If you are interested in the military history and geography of Galilee an excellent book is Cline's "The Battles of Armageddon"
on April 27, 2010
An old Army Ranger I, and one who dabbled in Congressional politics as a General Election party nominee for the US House, was "captured" by Peters' "The War After Armageddon." This slow, though carefully analytic, reader was fascinated by the correctness of military jargon and hardware, the insightfulness into the world's "great religious struggle," the intrigue of powerful, though not always well-meaning, men, and the crispness of the tale. I simply could not put this read down until I had drunk its fill. And, fill it did indeed.
We are invited to the decisive initiation of the final Crusade which erupts in the near future after a worldwide (including LA and Las Vegas) nuclear holocaust. The Holy Land once again is the scene of a no-quarters-offered conflict between the Muslim East and the Christian West, this time represented by the neo-Crusaders, America's powerful religious far right.
Blending in the events of the last 3-4 years, the reader is crushed by realization that this scenario is well within the realm of possibilities. Peters' on-the-ground, in-your-face experiences over the last 30 years uniquely qualify him to spin such a yarn. I pray he is wrong, but the warning is there.
As one becomes deeply immersed in this tale, he wonders more and more then begins to doubt if "truth, justice and the American way" will be served. Only the reader will know.
on October 17, 2009
Ralph Peters is one of the most accomplished of current writers: fiction, non-fiction, essays, reportorial, and opinion, he does it all with professionalism and aplomb. His previous essays reflect much of what he has set to fiction in Armageddon as a warning for what could come if we are complacent about our future.
In this book Peters sees through a glass darkly, but the scenario is not at all far-fetched, a thought that ought to energize all readers to become more involved.
This book - a forecast of a world after nuclear strikes from terrorists and rogue states - may be less a flight of imagination than a harbinger of terrible days to come.
Some reviewers have mis-cast this work as somehow being anti-Israel and nothing could be further from the truth. Peters is one of Israel's most loyal supporters, and selecting that ground as a setting for a culmination of a terrible confrontation - on many levels - is absolutely germane to the world we face today.
Regardless of the implications for today's world, Peters has produced yet another page-turner in his long string of successful works. Even if one overlooks the highly germane geopolitical implications,the sheer suspense and adroit plotting and character development will entertain and enthrall almost everyone.
Readers will be hooked from the opening sentence to the close, with only one regret: how unfortunate that it had to end! That to me is the mark of an extraordinary work.
I recommend this book to everyone and warn you beforehand: set aside some time to read it because you will not want to put it down!
on October 7, 2009
A good war story is what you'd expect from ex-Army officer and military commentator Ralph Peters if you're at all familiar with his writing.The War After Armageddon is certainly that and more.
Peters has conceived a 21st century nightmare of a plot. The story opens with LA and Vegas in radioactive ruin and the US fighting to reclaim a devastated Holy Land with religious extremists on both sides. You'll find dramatic, fast-paced battle scenes, courageous soldiers, a full share of villains, an unsettling amount of treachery and betrayal, and one refreshingly bright star of a hero.
The Wall Street Journal calls Peters the thinking man's Tom Clancy. Clearly Peters has put thought into this one....and historical research, an intimate knowledge of military matters and profound understanding of the complicated web of Middle Eastern culture. He'll have you thinking -- about patriotism, liberty, and a future we take for granted.
Good writing may look -- and read-- easy. It's not. Well read in history and classic literature and in command of this material, Peters makes an implausible plot, a foreign setting and the unfamiliar (to many of us) territory of combat believable and real. Long after you've finished the epilogue you'll ponder the provocative issues Peters raises in this memorable and troubling novel.
on October 31, 2009
After seeing Ralph Peters on C-SPAN and reading his columns, I was looking forward to his futuristic book.
I was not disappointed. After several nuke strikes on the US, Christian Fundamentalists take over the government and create another Christian based Army (MOBIC). The overarching theme is the battle between Christian Fundamentalism vs. Moslem Fundamentalism.
General "Flintlock" Harris as a bastion of the real Army is fighting the favoritism of MOBIC for resources and fighting the Moslems in the Holy Land.
Along with the combat scenes, Peter's captures all the back room political maneuvering that goes on. The skillful combination of both makes this a hard book to put down.
Peter's has highlighted the results of fanaticalism no matter which side it comes from. I am not sure how probable the scenario but it was a fascinating excursion.
I could not put the book down. Several twists made me stop and ponder. The narrator of the story at the end of the book makes for a great final twist to the story.