Review: For Alert Force

For Alert Force: KLAXON KLAXON KLAXON

Having essentially run low on World War III books that both held interest to me and weren’t already read has been a slight issue for this blog. Thankfully, I found some newer ones. One of these was Jim Clonts’ FOR ALERT FORCE: KLAXON KLAXON KLAXON, an awkwardly-titled book telling the tale of SAC crews in World War III.

This is a near-immediate 1980s nuclear World War III with none of the contrivances to keep it conventional for any length of time that appear in other works. Clonts, a veteran of B-52s himself, tells their story of fighting in these apocalyptic conditions. The book is good for what it is, but tends to wobble a little.

It has the exact strengths and weaknesses of what something written by someone with personal experience brings. On one hand, it’s detailed and a lot of it is accurate (as far as I could tell). A lot of the scenes are tense and well-done. On the other, it has tons and tons of Herman Melville-grade explanations of everything minor and technical.

Still, it could have been a lot worse than it is, and works as an aviation thriller. It’s not the most pleasant, but as this is about nuclear war, that’s to be expected. A more focused Chieftains (albeit with airplanes instead of tanks) is not a bad thing.

Finally, I noticed that it openly declares itself an “alternate history” on the cover, something a lot of fiction, even the kind that could easily qualify as such, doesn’t do. This fits the description unambiguously. It takes place long before its writing time and has history-changing events. So it’s interesting that Clonts felt comfortable enough to label it as such.

In short, I didn’t regret reading this book.

4 thoughts on “Review: For Alert Force

    1. Luke W

      And I’ll add, having got and read this over the last week, that I really enjoyed the book. It needed an editor, some of the scenarios leave you raising an eyebrow (just the one Harpoon enough…?) and there’s a lot of technical cul-de-sacs that reflect the nav experience.

      But it gives that (comparatively rare) focus on fighting a nuclear war which sets it apart, and was plenty reason to fight through the detracting points. So thanks – would have likely missed this otherwise.

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  1. brughtdark

    The author also wrote “When Penguins Flew and Water Burned” about being a B-52 navigator in the 80’s and the Gulf War. I consider it a bookend to ‘Flying from the Black Hole: The B-52 Navigator-Bombardiers of Vietnam’ by Robert O. Harder.

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