The Korean War is perhaps the least understood of America’s modern conflicts. It is hard for me to understand the deep hatred between the different countries in the Pacific forged through centuries of occupation and wars. Former enemies are now allies; countries are split apart by ideology. Korea Strait is a novel using this geopolitical canvas as the base for an intense naval exercise reminiscent of Tom Clancy’s Hunt For Red October. While not in the same class as that novel, Korea Strait moves beyond the Cold War to what may be today’s version. Unless one has his head buried in the sand, it is hard not to envision some future conflict with North Korea who may just be capable of nuclear strikes.
Author David Poyer buses a multi-country naval force conducting a “routine” training exercise as the backdrop for the story. Throw in Naval backstabbing, a weak president, a typhoon or two, one or two rogue nations, and a major language (and “face”) barrier and you have the ingredients for an interesting read. This may also give some insight into what another conflict in that hemisphere might entail. There is enough “truth” in this novel to make it realistic.
While it doesn’t quite make it to the level of some of the best military fictional pieces, I found Korea Straight thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile reading. You may not want to read it while cruising in the open ocean. It turns out that this novel in one in a series featuring hero Dan Lenson. I could tell that there was a history with the character and while it didn’t take away from the novel there were some references to past events that I will probably need to explore (read more books) to find out.