Thursday, November 24, 2011
PROMIS # 2: Rhodesia by Jack Murphy
The love affair with my Kindle rolls on. I have kicked off this Thanksgiving by finishing Jack Murphy's latest installment in the PROMIS series.
Sean Deckard is back. Last we saw him, in PROMIS: Vietnam, he was a One-Zero on a SOG team. He made some mistakes fatal to his career in the US military: he assumed the top brass in his chain-of-command wanted victory in Vietnam (an assumption so many people still make), and he went berserk on a room full of field-grade officers.
Despite that most un-soldierly conduct in his past, Deckard is a soldier through and through, with no desire to be anything else. I'm tempted to compare him with the main character in "The Hurt Locker." War is all he knows and seemingly all he wants to know...the family he acquires in this tale notwithstanding. But Deckard isn't just an adrenaline junkie. He cares about more than just the rush of death's presence--namely achieving the long-term, big-picture objectives that win wars. IOW what western politicians allegedly send young men to war for.
What happened in Rhodesia is a sadly familiar story to anyone familiar with what's been happening in Africa from 1945 to the present. The betrayal of the men sacrificing for duty, honor and country by fat cats and chairborne commandos with hidden agendas is also tragically reminiscent of what Deckard glimpsed in Vietnam. If allowed to pursue victory on a strategic level, the Rhodesians probably would have prevailed, and the author shows that (or at least Deckard's perception of it) without getting bogged down in the geopolitics.
The action is fast and heavy, but never without purpose and impact on the flow of the plot. We are also teased along with Deckard by another encounter of the "predictive algorithms" of the PROMIS project. We can't help but imagine (especially given the title of the series) that Deckard is on a collision course with PROMIS, which will play a larger and larger role in future installments. This e-book could use some editing, but is a good, fast read.