Battle Born may be fiction, but it is not beyond the realm of fact which makes it all the more chilling to read. The story involves the two Koreas, China, and the United States in a political scenario that will leave readers on the edge of their seats.

Dale Brown's favorite hero is Patrick McLanahan, a Brigadier-General in the Air Force who is now facing a formidable challenge. McLanahan is back in the air again, with a squadron of B-1 bombers belonging to Nevada's National Guard. From this motley crew he must put together a team of combat pilots who are aggressive, young, and thoroughly skilled at pushing airplanes through the skies at supersonic speeds.

Nevada's squadron of the B-1B Lancers is commanded by Lt. Col. Nancy Cheshire. Her major problem is keeping the pilots from battling each other. She is relatively content with her job until General McLanahan enters her life.

Meanwhile, there is a joint U.

S.-Japanese-South Korean mock bombing exercise underway. To the astonishment of the other participants, the South Korean pilots fly across the border into the North to support a revolt of the starving people of North Korea. Much to the dismay of U.

S. President Kevin Martindale, South Korean leaders declare that a United Korea exists. With that declaration the world's newest nuclear power emerges. (The South has captured Chinese nukes which China wants back to the extent that it invades the now-unified Korea.) At this point, General McLanahan enters the conflict to try to avert World War III, bringing with him top-secret technology and his band of brazen fly-boys.

If there is a drawback to this techno-thriller, it is that Brown is so concerned with realism that he writes almost too many detailed descriptions of flying, from bomber avionics to targeting by radar. Even so, Battle Born is a gripping and entertaining novel that is hard to put down. ¦ Lloyd Armour is a retired newspaper editor in Nashville, Tennessee.

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