The story is a familiar one, in both the daily press and in so many novels that they almost constitute a genre. A terrorist group, made up of Palestinians, controls American hostages in an environment which appears to make them invulnerable to assault. Further complicating matters is the fact that Soviet “advisers” are stationed nearby--any American military response could provoke World War III. Moreover, the Soviet premier is near death, and the political maneuvers within the Kremlin regarding succession will probably confuse the Soviet reaction to any American rescue effort.
Nevertheless, despite the disastrous consequences of the abortive attempt to rescue the American hostages in Iran, the United States government feels compelled to attempt a rescue--particularly when two of the hostages are brutally murdered by their captors. Therefore, within hours of the hijacking, plans are designed for a joint-service assault.
Franklin Leib seems well aware of the complexities of operational planning, as well as of the influence of the “fog of war,” and his account of this fictional situation is both detailed and plausible. His characters tend to be a bit one-dimensional, but his recitation of events captures the essential essence of a military engagement--with all of its confusion, technological failures, and missed opportunities.