Book Review Red Hammer 1994 by Robert Ratcliffe

Title: Red Hammer 1994

Author: Robert Ratcliffe

Format: Kindle

Published: 2013

When I first saw this book, I was hoping it would be like one of my favorite books from the 80s, The Third World War by General Sir John Hackett (published 1979.) For the most part, I wasn’t disappointed in that respect. I’ve always been a fan of alternate history and “what if” stories. This appeared to fit nicely into that category. Red Hammer is based on the premise of a nuclear war fought in 1994. A struggling Russia elects an ultranationalist President who wishes to return Russia to the forefront of the world stage. He orders his military to plan a first strike nuclear option to cripple the United States.

Russia’s preparations are largely ignored, except for a couple of government officials who see what is happening and try to raise the alarm. Their warnings are mostly ignored and seen as paranoia or leftover Cold War mentality. As the first missiles are launched, the government is caught off guard, and has to scramble to react. An American President who cannot make up his mind and wants to believe it is all just a huge misunderstanding causes the plans to save the government to be largely ineffective.

As the war continues, we follow a bomber crew, a missile submarine crew, and several surviving government officials. I won’t list all the players here as the only disappointing element of the book was the lack of depth in the characters. They were pretty much stereotype cutouts without much to make them interesting as individuals. The author did do an amazing job of describing the escalation of the missile exchanges, and a couple detailed descriptions of the damage such weapons will cause.

Even with the cardboard cutout characters, it is still an excellent read. The “what if” aspect is very interesting and explored in depth. The ending leaves you wondering if the author intended it to be a series or not. I, for one, would love to see what happened next. I would give this book 3 out of 5 pages due to the lack of character development and the foggy ending.





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