Air Battle Force

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Relying upon technological superiority as a means of besting one’s foe is nearly as old as warfare itself. Within the last century, tanks demonstrated the need for mobile warfare in World War I, and airplanes made battleships obsolete in World War II. However, it was in the Persian Gulf War that the use of cruise missiles and “smart bombs” kindled the idea of using air superiority to quickly vanquish an enemy with minimal losses. This is the premise that lies behind Air Battle Force, The New York Times’ best-selling author Dale Brown’s novel about the clash between Islamic terrorists and America’s futuristic air arsenal.

President Thomas Thorn, a dedicated computer buff, has decimated America’s armed forces in order to implement an exotic array of airborne weapons. They include powerful unmanned drones and bombers, a laser capable of vaporizing opponents, and electronically armored commandos known as “tin men.” The Taliban are on the move in Afghanistan, and Major General Patrick McLanahan’s remotely controlled attack against the terrorists fails to kill Wakil Mohommad Zarazi, who quickly builds a massive army in Turkmenistan. As the novel quickly moves toward its violent conclusion, America and Russia seem destined to collide as Zarazi’s renegade faction undermines the Turkman government and the Russian forces who rush to its defense.

Brown deserves kudos for his obvious mastery of the nomenclature and tactics of modern warfare. Moreover, he smoothly integrates his military knowledge with fully realized characters. His rendering of Taliban member Jalaluddin Turabi as an honorable warrior enriches what might otherwise have been a simple tale of good versus evil. With its exciting action and technological wizardry, Air Battle Force will enthrall readers both young and old.