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Author: Bob Nesoff

Publisher: Strategic Publishing Group

ISBN: 978-1-61204-044-8

This book offers yet a different take on how to combat terrorism: employ special forces and international collaboration. (I read the trade paperback version—e-book versions are also available.) In my own book The Midas Bomb, in John Betcher’s The 19th Element, and in David Fett and Stephen Langford’s White Sleeper (I reviewed the last two books for Bookpleasures), the military plays second violin to civilians and local and federal authorities. Bob Nesoff is a former Army Green Beret sergeant, so he follows the adage to write about what he knows. I’m happy that he did—this tale about the dangers of nuclear proliferation is a thriller filled with military command-and-control suspense that will give readers another enjoyable roller coaster ride.

What recent events show, however, is that the trust between the militaries of our allies described in this novel could be exaggerated. The author describes a few rough spots in the collaboration between Israelis, English, and Americans, that is, between both agencies (Mossad, MI6, and CIA) and special forces, but in general things go smoothly. In real life, the CIA and special forces (in this case, Navy SEALs) trusted no one in bringing Osama bin Laden to justice. I would always favor the latter—the more people that know about an anti-terrorist action, the more chances there are for leaks. This is why the need-to-know doctrine is so important for national security and why even Congress people should, as a general rule, be excluded.

The Israeli Mossad officer Dan Halevi is the main protagonist in this book. His history already provides a connection between CIA/Green Berets and Mossad/special forces—he is a U.S. citizen and ex-Green Beret. His one regret in life is that he had the information to stop at least part of the attack on 9/11, but like our U.S. intelligence services, he never connected the dots, as they say. Intelligence reports indicate that terrorists are ready to set off nukes in New York and London, so he figures he has a chance to redeem himself by stopping this major terrorist plan. Mossad teams up with MI6 (London) and CIA (New York) and off we go on the roller coaster.

Halevi is something of a cowboy. In some back-story, he leads a raid on an Iranian nuclear facility and destroys it. This secret Mossad strike upsets the Americans and the British. Turn-about is fair play. They are not above keeping Israel in the dark. It is farfetched that any collaboration is possible at all, especially after the Pollard case (Israel spying on the U.S.), but I will give the author the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps in some parallel universe, Mr. Pollard didn’t exist. However, I still find it quite a stretch of my mental muscles to believe the Mossad would make Dan a general—he is a U.S. citizen, after all.

The story of the origin of the bombs is interesting. First, the author supposes that Saddam Hussein had all the components, except for the fissionable material, and the Iranians were able to retrieve them before the U.S. clamped down on Iraq. Second, the Iranians solicit and obtain help from that mad man in North Korea. Once that data is available, there is an interesting showdown between the U.S. Secretary of State and the North Korean and Iranian ambassadors. It’s a highly undiplomatic showdown since, in this parallel universe, SecState is ex-military. Sometimes calling a spade a spade is required—again, farfetched, but highly entertaining.

I don’t want to give the impression that Mr. Nesoff has the opinion that the U.S. would be better off if the Pentagon were running the country. Far from it! His story emphasizes the importance of special ops in the fight against terrorism, but he also portrays a common-sense balance between civilian and military authority. Moreover, he shows how more effective a collaborative effort between intelligence and agencies can be than thousands of troops on the ground. The first fights jihadists at their own level—cloak and dagger, if you will. Sending all those troops just makes them targets in a guerrilla-style warfare not all that different than what happened in the American Revolution (the U.S. combatants were the guerilla warriors in that fracas). Major troop deployment also costs more than the laser-like precision of special ops and UAVs (in the latter case, this is not a metaphor).

The author’s portrayal of international collaboration is something we would also like to have, especially more collaboration from the Pakistanis. The U.S.-Pakistani relationship is suffering right now, considering where bin Laden was found. Although this is not the place to debate the different agendas of America’s supposed allies, I will point out that, in this time of tight budgets and failing economies, it would help if U.S. friends could pick up more of the tab, assuming that they are in agreement with U.S. policy. Since Europe and the U.S. have both suffered terrorist attacks, this just seems to make common sense, irrespective your views on the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.

Mr. Nesoff has written an entertaining and thought-provoking thriller. However, I have a few nits to pick. It seemed to drag in spots, for example, so I tried to analyze why. I concluded that there is too much back-story written in journalistic style. It is well written—our author is an award-winning journalist, after all—so this is not a major flaw. I have the same problem with Frederick Forsyth’s books. Moreover, it allows the reader to dig deeply into the military mind, to admire the focus, strength, and agility of these men and women in uniform. Perhaps one day countries won’t need them—but I fear that day is a long way off.

Much of the back-story, by the way, could be covered in improving the dialog that, probably for the same journalistic reason, seems unnatural and stilted at different points in the story. I always admire the ability of readers to stitch things together. Ladling out the back-story one ladle at a time in the dialog generally keeps the story moving and the reader interested. In fact, this novel has a dearth of snappy dialog and an abundance of description. Again, I didn’t find this to be a major flaw—just a nit to pick.

A few more nits and I’ll stop: The text needs a little more editing. I was able to work through the word drops, for example (the reader just has to supply a suitable word—generally there’s at least one obvious choice). The author has a bad habit of either not defining acronyms or defining them after they’re used. Finally, there is an over-use of the semi-colon—I prefer the em-dash.

Again, these negatives aren’t overwhelming. This is a very entertaining novel. I’m sure the reader will be looking forward to Mr. Nesoff’s sequel, Shaheed. I know I will.

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