Recommend Third World War books

Preferably of the later Cold War era* but anything is fine!

I’m currently reading The Red/Black/Blue Effect trilogy by Harvey Black which is about a mid-1980’s NATO/Warsaw Pact conflict, its pretty good so far though with some odd errors from an apparent expert** which make me suspect the realism of the scenario, though he does admit in the intro to the third book that he was going for tension and pace rather than getting slowed down by accuracy.

One thing I’m not really interested in is post-apocalyptic novels though I recognise their closely tied to Third World War scenarios, anything with a build up to the apocalypse is OK but not really something set entirely after it.

Also factual books examining a potential WW3 scenario are of interest as well.

Tanks in advance :wink:

*late 1940’s/early 1950’s scenarios just feel like an extension of WW2 as much as anything else

**such as having the DEFCON system counting up not down or a Su-25 Frogfoot ‘lighting its afterburners’

Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy is excellent and it isn’t set in the Jack Ryan Universe.

The Third World War: August 1985 and The Third World War: The Untold Story, By General Sir John Hackett.

***Red Army ***is also excellent.

Arc Light by Eric Harry

Warday by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetcka was pretty good when I read it about 5 years ago.

I agree. It’s ending is a bit abrupt, but it’s heavy on technology and military lingo so it was right up my alley.

Agreed, but it’s more of a post-apocalyptic novel than a telling of a Third World War. The OP should read it anyway though.

OP, go read Harold Coyle’s, Team Yankee, and then go read anything Larry Bond wrote around that time frame. Bob Forrest-Webb’s Chieftains, is supposed to be awesome, a Brit version of Team Yankee. I’ve not read it though.

Trinity’s Child is a good book on a B-52 crew’s handling of the end of the world. Decent pot-boiler HBO movie too, as “By Dawn’s Early Light.”

If you can ignore 2018 and place yourself mentally in 1959, Alas, Babylon is something of a classic of the genre. It drags in places, but overall it’s a good portrayal of how the residents of a small Florida town deal with the anticipation, the actuality and the aftermath.

That was one of those “Why has this not been made into a movie yet??”

NOW if it were made into one…there would be a ton of people screaming that the whole 'California not letting refugees in from the rest of the USA" was a huge metaphor about Trump.


I read this book shortly after it’s release and really enjoyed it. Highly recommended, by me anyway.

I second this. Great book!

The Chinese Ultimatum (1980), Tensions between the USSR and China. . . and the Germanys (with all the nukes of the US and USSR on their soil) threatening to reunite!

I came in here to suggest this thinking no one had even heard of it let alone recommend it because it has been out of print for probably a decade and a half and like four posts mentions it. I enjoyed it. It’s a good read if you can find a copy.

Shoot, I messed up the quote. Meant to second Arc Light.


Plenty of copies in used book stores here in San Antonio. Which isn’t surprising, as SA was one of the cities bombed.

Thank you for the recommendations everyone! I feel an Amazon book order is on the cards :slight_smile:

Actually I have read Warday and yes it is very good, apparently there was a pseudo-sequel planned which would have detailed the war from the Soviet perspective, a pity it never came to fruition.

Team Yankee has been sitting on my bookshelf for years but I’ve never taken it down for some reason, I’ll put it next on my reading list.

Chieftains is highly recommended if you have any interest in the genre, the ending in particular is chilling.

I didn’t realise By Dawn’s Early Light was based on a book! Its actually one of my favourite movies and I think was one of the main influences in sparking an interest in the subject, I watched it at a formative time in my life. The Cold War was coming to a close just as I was old enough to begin to understand it, I believe By Dawn’s Early Light was released in the same period of time.

Team Yankee by Harold Coyle is the story of a US armored company set in the WW3 world of The Third World War: August 1985. I rather liked it.

First Clash: Combat Close Up in World War Three by Kenneth Macksey is the story of the 4th Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in WW3. It’s written a bit as a ‘lessons learned’ type of book rather than a fiction novel, and doesn’t cover the end of the war. The Canadians are pushed back to a defensive line, and the story stops there. Still, I liked it.

I thought that Natures End was supposed to be the ‘sequel if we never fought’? It was…not as good as Warday. I think you’ll really like Team Yankee. Though I never was a soldier, I’ve talked to quite a few, and it sounded pretty much like what those guys were worried about and did staff exercises to deal with, all through the 80s. I’ll redouble my efforts to find a copy of Chieftains. None of my local libraries have heard of it. But they have a copy or two of Sled Driver, the rare edition. Go figure.

The book Trinity’s Child is better than the movie. Well, to be more accurate, it goes into more detail about the people in the bomber. I won’t say it’s very well written, but like the movie, it’s good for what it is, and fits your OP.

You’ve seen Threads, and the Day After, right? Oh, and First Strike, right? (Here, on youtube: First Strike (Part 1) - YouTube ) Yes, it’s ‘unrealistic’, as the comments note. I guess, though with stories like the 1979 false alarm, and the secret service not bothering to get the President out of the building, though they did launch NEACP, I wonder in the late 70s, just how fast our response would be to a true bolt from the blue?