Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Book Review: 'Moscow Airlift (Josh Haman Series Book 6)' by Marc Liebman

Author Marc Liebman, a retired U.S. Navy Captain and Naval Aviator who is a combat veteran of Vietnam, the tanker wars of the 1980s and Desert Shield/Desert Storm, retired as a Captain after twenty-four years in the Navy and a career that involved his working with the armed forces of Australia, Canada, Japan, Thailand, Republic of Korea, the Philippines and the U.K. He has been a partner in two different consulting firms advising clients on business and operational strategy; the CEO of an aerospace and defense manufacturing company; an associate editor of a national magazine, and a copywriter for an advertising agency. Marc has written five novels in the Josh Haman Series and MOSCOW ADRIFT is the sixth book in that series.

It is obvious why Marc’s expertise in the military aspects and espionage shadings of his created character is so keen and accurate: Josh Haman is a navy pilot flying helicopters in Navy special operations in Vietnam and the first two books of this series concentrated on Vietnam while subsequent volumes placed Josh in Germany in the 1970s then Russia and other locales. In this Book 6 Josh in involved in intrigue in the Soviet Union.

With a degree of intensity Marc includes historical information about the time of his novel – ‘Long after most of us are in the ground, 1991 will be viewed by historians as one of the most eventful and significant years in world history. Seven events relating to the Soviet Union that either culminated in or happened during 1991 had a significant long-term effect on the history of the world. All were woven into Moscow Airlift‘s plot. When the year began, the Soviet Union was financially, economically, culturally and politically in trouble. Its citizens, emboldened by Gorbachev’s policies of perestroika and glasnost and the declarations of independence by its own republics and the defections from the Warsaw Pact, were becoming more vocal in their opposition to Communist Party rule. They clamored for better quality Soviet made and Western consumer goods along with an improved standard of living. Shortages of everything from food to medicine were part of the daily fabric of life. The problems the Soviet Union faced in 1991 were the culmination of years of attempting to compete with the West while dedicating twenty to twenty-five percent of its economic output to defense. By contrast, the U.S. spends less than four and NATO nations are required by treaty to spend two. The core of President Reagan’s strategy to end the Cold War was to bankrupt the Soviet Union by forcing it into an arms race it couldn’t afford. The Soviet Union didn’t have the resources—money or technology—to keep up with the West.’ That is indicative of Marc’s commitment to his readers.

The story is complex and lengthy but never for a moment does the suspense rest as the plot outline suggests – ‘In 1991, Gorbachev signs the historic US/Soviet grain deal, committing the Soviets to purchasing eight million tons of grain over the next five years. In response, inflation in the Soviet Union rises almost out of control, the government loses its iron grip on the population, and the Soviet parliament votes to dissolve the Soviet Union. Hardliners want Gorbachev out of power, and the Iranians see the turmoil as a chance to acquire tactical nuclear weapons. The United States realizing it was receiving conflicting intelligence on the situation in the Soviet Union sends Josh Haman to Moscow as an independent set of eyes and ears. On the day he arrives, a KGB general promises to give him the names and addresses of the man who ordered the killing of his first wife's parents. Almost immediately, Haman's mission expands from gathering intelligence on the volatile political situation to stopping the delivery of the nuclear weapons to the Iranians, all the while tormented by the desire to exact revenge.’

It is rare that an author can infuse so many levels of involvement on the political and military and espionage levels and make the story so human as Marc manages in this excellent novel. The immediate response is to look for the other five books in the series – Josh Haman has captured our attention and leaves us eager for more of his intense adventures. Grady Harp, June 18

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.