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Hackett's "Third World War: The Untold Story" -- Fact vs. Fiction?

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  • Hackett's "Third World War: The Untold Story" -- Fact vs. Fiction?

    I've just started reading the above-mentioned novel and while I realize eventually it turns into a fictional narrative, I'm wondering how much of the early/background material is true and how much is made up to suit the overall story. There are lots of treaties, organizations, individuals, ideologies, and strategies called out in the first few chapters which are all very interesting, but I'm wondering if it is all TRUE up to a certain point, then flips over to FICTION, or if the background/context is interleaved fact and fiction in order to establish the plot.

    I realize it is not a non-fiction book and that I could look elsewhere for facts. But obviously it can't all be made up, right?
    "I am not an atomic playboy."
    Vice Admiral William P. Blandy

  • #2
    General Sir John Hackett was certainly qualified to be able to render the background of his two books on the subject of a WARPAC onslaught in Europe quite authentic. I think you can take it as read that the weapon systems,organisations and basic deployments of the NATO forces are entirely factual.

    Obviously the books are fiction-thankfully it didn't happen- but they make interesting reading.

    Another novel of the same genre is Red Army by Ralph Peters, an Ameriacan Intelligence Officer.
    "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
    Samuel Johnson.

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    • #3
      I believe that Harold Coyle's Team Yankee (great book) was based on Hackett's book.

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      • #4
        Thanks for the responses! I have read both Red Army and Team Yankee and enjoyed them a great deal. This one seems a bit more like a textbook or history book so far, which is what got me to thinking that some of it is very likely true.
        "I am not an atomic playboy."
        Vice Admiral William P. Blandy

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        • #5
          If you liked those three books, you might also consider First Clash by Kenneth Macksey

          https://www.amazon.com/First-Clash-C.../dp/0425107566
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          • #6
            I've added it to my list -- thanks!
            "I am not an atomic playboy."
            Vice Admiral William P. Blandy

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            • #7
              Originally posted by mirrorshades View Post
              Thanks for the responses! I have read both Red Army and Team Yankee and enjoyed them a great deal. This one seems a bit more like a textbook or history book so far, which is what got me to thinking that some of it is very likely true.
              Did you notice the difference in the battlefields between Red Army and Team Yankee. I know both authors. Harry Coyle's is a clean, almost antiseptic battlefield with little or no confusion. Ralph Peters' is messy, lethal and confusing battlefield which he wrote while working for me in the III Corps intelligence support unit. Harry and I worked on the staff of 1st Cav Div: I was the G2 and Harry worked in G3 operations. I cleared his second book's security for publication.
              Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 25 Mar 19, 12:31.
              Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by mirrorshades View Post
                I've just started reading the above-mentioned novel and while I realize eventually it turns into a fictional narrative, I'm wondering how much of the early/background material is true and how much is made up to suit the overall story. There are lots of treaties, organizations, individuals, ideologies, and strategies called out in the first few chapters which are all very interesting, but I'm wondering if it is all TRUE up to a certain point, then flips over to FICTION, or if the background/context is interleaved fact and fiction in order to establish the plot.

                I realize it is not a non-fiction book and that I could look elsewhere for facts. But obviously it can't all be made up, right?
                At the time Hackett's book came out, I and Ralph revised a corps contingency plan intelligence estimate for defense in the NorthAG sector against a Group of Soviets Forces Germany after years of experience with contingency plans for CENTAG.

                Hackett's assessment was good and consistent with our intelligence estimate. I had the opportunity to debrief a high-level Polish defector who confirmed our assessment of where the Polish army would fight in the greater scheme of the Soviet offensive.
                Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 26 Mar 19, 06:35.
                Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
                  Did you notice the difference in the battlefields between Red Army and Team Yankee. I know both authors. Harry Coyle's is a clean, almost antiseptic battlefield with little or no confusion. Ralph Peters' is messy, lethal and confusing.
                  I very much did. Peters' book really pulled no punches and is by far the stand-out in my memory. I honestly don't recall much about Team Yankee combat, other than when one of the characters stepped on something that snapped, which he thought was a tree limb but ended up being a human bone on the battlefield. I do recall both being an enjoyable read in their own respective ways, though.

                  Appreciate the additional insight on your real-life experiences, too!
                  "I am not an atomic playboy."
                  Vice Admiral William P. Blandy

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                  • #10
                    AFAIR (it's decades since I read it), the organizations, treaties, and overall situations and outlooks were all existing and real. The fiction is in the events that led up to the war, and in how those organizations, armies etc. acted and reacted - though Hackett believed those actions and reactions, as he depicted them, were realistic. And then, naturally, in how the war unfolded, but once again Hackett knew enough to make all of this realistic, too.
                    Michele

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mirrorshades View Post
                      I've just started reading the above-mentioned novel and while I realize eventually it turns into a fictional narrative, I'm wondering how much of the early/background material is true and how much is made up to suit the overall story. There are lots of treaties, organizations, individuals, ideologies, and strategies called out in the first few chapters which are all very interesting, but I'm wondering if it is all TRUE up to a certain point, then flips over to FICTION, or if the background/context is interleaved fact and fiction in order to establish the plot.

                      I realize it is not a non-fiction book and that I could look elsewhere for facts. But obviously it can't all be made up, right?
                      You need to read the first book first, The Third World War. This book is as much an appendix, as a story in its own right.

                      The first book is more factual, but the second is a more enjoyable read.
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                      • #12
                        I read Hackett's book when it came out (Peter's too and have copies of both). I found Hackett's sorely lacking as it focused on just a European WW III which of course, is absurd. A true world war would be fought on many fronts, not one. It's akin to people who focus on the ETO from D-Day to the end of the war as being the war.

                        Thus, Hackett overlooks the issues that would have occurred in the Pacific, Middle East, etc., with the Soviet Union. The US in particular, wouldn't have been fighting a single front war and the Soviets couldn't neglect other fronts to focus on a war in Europe.

                        Peters focuses on a war in Europe without giving much, if any, details to other theaters. His book simply doesn't pay attention to them rather than forget that they would exist. As fiction, Peters' book is a better read. As a historical fiction, Peters again comes out ahead of Hackett because his book narrows its focus.

                        On the whole, Hackett's book wasn't all that good, and it was pretty easy to poke giant holes in his world war scenario.

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