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The Third World War: The Untold Story

General Sir John Hackett
Out of Print
Bantam Books (1982)

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This entry created 22 March 2018. Last revised on 22 March 2018.

2,039 hits since 21 Mar 2018
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
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The Third World War: The Untold Story

The Startling New Bestseller

Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star no star no star no star no star (6.00)

480 pages. 7 maps. Foreward, index, guide to abbreviations, four postscripts, acknowledgements.

Following up on General Sir John Hackett's 1979 prediction of how the Third World War might be fought, in 1982 he revised and expanded his predictions in a supplemental volume.

First, he updated his prediction to reflect the facts that the Iranian Revolution had occurred (in the original book, Iran is still under the Shah) and that Egypt was no longer in the Soviet orbit. This involved making significant changes in the Middle Eastern portions of the war.

Secondly, he goes back to his experts – some old, some new – to cover subjects which he felt were under-served in the original volume.

And he adds a fictional element, following Andrei Nekrassov – a second lieutenant in charge of a motor rifle company in the 197 Motor Rifle Division – as he fights through the war.

The book has four primary divisions:

Under The Balance of Power, the author discusses the growing divisions between the USA and Western Europe; the nuclear arsenals and strategies for their use; a discussion of weaponry; the air war; analysis of the Warsaw Pact; discussion of the Politburo thinking which led to war; and predictions concerning if and how Ireland would coordinate with NATO.

Under War, the author gives us new anecdotes from the fighting on the Central Front, and adds coverage of the Scandinavian Front, the war at sea, a quick summary of the air war, and consideration of the war in space.

Under Vital Peripheries, the author explores the pre-war diplomacy and then fighting in other global theaters: Central America, where Cuba declines to follow Soviet directions to wage war, and the U.S. launches an air war but does not invade; in the Middle East, where Egypt annexes Libya, Iran has a counter-revolution, and an Afghanistan jihad keeps Soviet forces occupied and unable to intervene elsewhere; South Africa, where the situation is further described (the fighting here was covered in the first book); and the Far East, where China takes the opportunity to settle scores with Vietnam (and pressures North Korea into staying out of the war, except for limited raids).

Finally, in The End and a Beginning, the author details the destruction of Minsk by nuclear weapons, the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and considers what the post-war world would be like.

At the end of the book, in An Alternative Ending, the author briefly summarizes what might have happened if nuclear weapons had been withdrawn from Europe, and if the U.K. had failed to upgrade its NATO forces… a Soviet victory in Europe.

Wargamers might be disappointed that there's not a lot of additional warfare presented in this volume: more fighting in Scandinavia, a Chinese invasion of Vietnam, and not much else. Then again, the author is attempting to present a realistic prediction, versus an action-oriented entertainment. On the other hand, the fictional story of Nekrassov provides a sort of micro-size Team Yankee from the Soviet perspective, with inspiration for several scenarios.

One oddity is the author's negative attitude toward Israel, for which he provides no rationale.

If you own the original volume, consider this one to be more of the same. If you liked that one, you'll like this one too. If you are gaming the Cold War Gone Hot, there's a lot of ideas here. The book seems to be out of print now, but secondhand copies are easily available. Also published as The Untold Story.

Reviewed by Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian.