Thu, Jun 12, 2014 - Page 11 News List

Book review: DRAGON STORM: The Invasion of Taiwan

T.J. McFadden’s new novel about a PRC invasion of Taiwan is strong on military knowledge and competent on character development, despite the lack of soul searching

By Bradley Winterton  /  Contributing reporter

DRAGON STORM: The Invasion of Taiwan, by T.J. McFadden.

As T.J. McFadden’s novel Dragon Storm: The Invasion of Taiwan begins, a US news team is landing to cover an expected invasion by the PRC, the Taiwanese president Ch’iu Wang Chen, before he abruptly changes his mind, is preparing to leave, his pockets stuffed with US dollars and his luggage with treasures from the National Palace Museum, and the president of the People’s Republic, Xiao Ying Tian, is sitting in his office smiling. He’s removed any chance of US intervention by threatening to give North Korea enough armaments to re-unify the Korean peninsula by force.

Ordinary soldiers in Xiamen and on Taiwan’s west coast are introduced next, and the story of the battle will be told through their eyes. The US journalists, meanwhile, check into Taipei’s Grand Hotel, before long to be a smoking ruin. When a good-looking lady is introduced to them as their liaison officer, one US journalist whispers to another “I know a street in this town where you can rent girls who look just like her for 10 bucks an hour.”

The PRC is described as having 2,000 aircraft to support its attack, while Taiwan can only deploy 600 planes.

Taiwan in this novel, though, has 10 armed nuclear missiles, built in Russia, hidden away in tunnels in the central mountains. In addition, 10 planes are also standing by armed with nuclear weapons in the 25 kiloton range, scattered widely and well protected. At least half would survive a Communist first strike, the Taiwanese argue. Foreign journalists are skeptical, however, that Taiwan would in reality even try to fight the Communists.

In addition, there’s an American Volunteer Group, known as the Flying Tigers, technically civilian employees of the ROC, who will engage in combat missions using some of the older planes in Taiwan’s air force.

Publication Notes

DRAGON STORM: The Invasion of Taiwan

By T.J. McFadden

467 pages

Amazon Digital Services

Kindle edition

For the rest, there are warehouses in Keelung that pay a great deal to keep inspectors away, and student protests. Suao, Miaoli, Greater Kaohsiung and Hsinchu are mentioned, though it has to be said that Taiwan’s topography doesn’t feature prominently in this novel.

Meanwhile, US president Eisenhower Jefferson Walton, Rhodes Scholar and Yale graduate, and with a female vice-president, hears his CIA chief say he believes it’s all a PRC bluff, trying to scare Taiwan into surrendering without a fight. A US general advises the president that Beijing may have superiority in numbers, but that Taiwan has, militarily speaking, better quality.

In the event the US doesn’t remain as uncommitted as it had initially announced. It would be wrong to give away too much of the plot, but what we can say is that McFadden works hard on the third quarter of his book, almost always the most challenging and problem-filled in any novel, and that the ending is not what you might expect.

There is considerable military knowledge on display here, such as of the history of the D-Day landings in Europe in WW2, the 1945 battle for Iwo Jima, and even the tactics of the Mongols.

As for the actual battle that follows the PRC landings, it takes up the second half of the novel and is characterized by the depiction of weaponry rather than of blood until, close to the end, the focus moves back to the US newsmen.

No date is given for the story but it seems likely set in the near future. There’s a reference to Beijing’s “two child law,” for example, which would be slightly perplexing otherwise, and everyone has cell-phones.

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