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Russian Captain Yuri Zhukov brings more than a famous name when he’s assigned as an advisor to a North Vietnamese Army Regiment. A student of medieval military history, he greatly admires the most fearsome commanders of the time—those who fought the Muslim invasion of the Balkan States.
United States Army Special Forces Master Sergeant Alexandru Mihnea is assigned to Camp Hoa Binh. Returning once again to fight the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers, he expects another difficult tour in the hottest battle of the Cold War: Vietnam.
As the two sides contest for control of the border area, something is becoming disturbingly clear. The enemy is employing fear tactics not seen since the middle ages. Tactics quite familiar to the Special Forces Team Sergeant; tactics last used by his most famous ancestor, Vlad Tepes—better known as Vlad Dracula.
The situation was desperate. Casualties mounted as the Sultan’s forces vigorously pushed Vlad Dracula’s army back towards his capital. Realizing that a bold move was needed to avert disaster, he planned a daring nighttime raid into the midst of Sultan Mehmed’s Turkish army.
Dividing his force of twenty-four thousand men between himself and the Boyar Gales, Dracula and his men silently infiltrated into the midst of the enemy camp before midnight on June 17, 1462. While Gales faltered, not attacking as he agreed, Dracula penetrated to the Sultan’s personal fortifications. Thwarted in his attempt to kill or capture the Sultan by the vigilance of his elite guard, the janissaries, Dracula turned his forces loose among the Turks. For the next six hours they unleashed havoc, killing thousands while suffering few casualties themselves. With daylight they withdrew and continued their withdrawal towards the capital.
Sultan Mehmed was shaken, the morale of his soldiers shattered after seeing the carnage left by Dracula. Rallying his forces, the Sultan continued the pursuit. When the advance guard of the Turkish army was one hundred kilometers from Tîrgoviste, the capital, they came upon a gruesome sight. There, in a semi-circle nearly two kilometers long, Dracula had prepared his most famous ‘horror scene’. The Turkish advance guard stopped—neither they nor their horses could move, their senses overwhelmed by the spectacle before them.
The smell assaulted the nostrils of man and beast; the sight caused the veteran cavalrymen to shudder and fear dominated their very being. Their discipline and the firmness of their commanders kept them from turning and running, but could not force them forward.
Before them were thousands of their comrades impaled on stakes, the remnants of their tattered uniforms fluttering in the breeze, their bodies rapidly decomposing in the heat of the summer. Ravens and vultures had attacked the eyes and other soft tissues; wolves and wild dogs had eaten the limbs of many of the corpses. It was a macabre sight, one designed to bring nightmares to the Sultan’s cavalrymen.
The cavalry commander rode back to advise the Sultan on the horror ahead. The Sultan did not doubt what he would see; he had known Vlad Dracula, the Prince of Wallachia, for many years and knew the cruelties he inflicted upon his enemies.
The Sultan barely hesitated at the edge of this gruesome scene before he rode directly to the two highest stakes. These, he knew, would be Hamza Pasha and the Greek, Catavolinos, his emissaries in a foiled plot to trap Dracula. He shuddered to think how they died before being impaled.
The Sultan turned back; he would meet with his commanders. Dracula had planned this well. The Turkish army, demoralized as it was, would not be subject to this final humiliation, thousands of its comrades impaled like common criminals. Dracula had won this battle.
The Sultan turned his army around and headed...
“Captain Zhukov, we’re approaching Phnom Penh. You must fasten your seat belt.”
He looked up from his book and smiled at her. As he reached for his seat belt he asked, “Are you staying in Phnom Penh tonight?”
Breaking Rule Number One of Aeroflot, she returned his smile. Looking directly into the dark brown eyes of the handsome Russian officer, she shook her head and said, “Sadly no, Captain, we end this flight in Hanoi.”
Breaking eye contact, he looked at her nametag before returning his gaze to her eyes. “Maybe next time, Svetlana. I’ll be at the embassy.”
“I’d like that; sometimes we stay here,” she said, smiling coyly.
Breaking Rule Number Two, the dowdy Aeroflot uniform couldn’t hide it. He looked appreciatively at her full figure. She blushed and moved on.
He watched her for several more seconds, imagining what he would do with her, given the opportunity.
“This story quails the faint of heart, brings up memories of friends and comrades dieing, of listening to the tales of tunnel rats, and drinking with the Marines when they came home. An incredibly researched and studied tale from both sides of the Black Sea, Clifford Gissell captures both the idiosyncrasies of the Central European cultures and contrasting penchants of the Americans during the 1970's.
Red Dragon is NOT an easy read. It is NOT one of the stories you will casually pick up and finish in an hour. For those readers who had relatives and friends who lived and died during the Tet Offensive, it is even yet, a hard brick read.
For the student of cultures, Red Dragon drives home the differences between the gray world point of view of the Central Europeans and the rigid right and wrong view of the Americans. It demonstrates the complacency of a general population at war with itself for long decades, and the will it took to merely survive.
For the Military Historian, Red Dragon exemplifies the cross thoughts, tactics, and strategies used across a thousand years of conflict and turmoil.
It delves directly into the reasoning and thinking of all sides of this bygone offensive.
For everyone else, it is headlong dive into a madness and terror the population refuses to acknowledge can exist, even today. Modern horror films have no edge on the reality this novel shows can and will happen. This is a novel you must dare yourself to read.” Rating: 9 (out of 10) Campfires! - M D Johnson, Sage Fire Reviews
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 378
Paper Weight (lb): 15.6
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