To say Walt Gragg has had an accomplished career would be an understatement. A successful attorney, a former state prosecutor, an author, and most important in my opinion, an Army veteran. He enlisted into the Army during Vietnam, then went on to serve during the Cold War climbing the ladder and earning himself a very respectable pay grade of an E-7. A Sergeant First Class. He spent a lot of time in Germany where he was a part of real-life war games to practice defending Europe against potential Soviet Era invasions. His first novel, The Red Line (2017) was a Best Book award winner for best thriller/adventure novel and was a 2018 Thriller Writers best first novel finalist.
The Chosen One or the Mahdi, a new leader within the Islamic world arose and united the culture like no one ever before. He even brought together Iraq and Iran, the feuding neighboring countries that have hated each other for thousands of years and were at war for almost a decade in the 80’s. The Mahdi brought together millions of troops of Pan-Arabs for the Holy War with a goal to unite and control the Arab world. Their immediate task was to take control and the capital city of Cairo with an end goal of marching into Israel. They also had plans for the destruction of the Saudi oil Fields and were on a holy crusade to conquer the entire Middle East and then the world, they would rid the world of all ‘non-believers’. They were taking “revenge for decades of indignities, real and imagined.”
The novel starts with a daring amphibious beach landing by the 2nd Marine Division. Much like the real-world battle of Inchon, the amphibious invasion and battle of the Korean War that resulted in decisive victory and strategic reversal in favor of allied forces. The results here are very much the same, a daring beach landing is underway and sent to secure the beach is one Marine Corps platoon, led by Marine First Lieutenant Sam Erickson. A strong decisive leader who leads his Marines with pride and determination. This fight, a brutal one, but definitely not their last, as the war wages on the Marine leader experiences loss, wounds, both physical and mental that will follow him and his men for the rest of their lives. Of the 53 men that secured that beach in Africa, only six would see home again. As the Pan-Arabs attacked with thousands of troops, tanks and armor. Outnumbering the allied forces one hundred to one on some occasions. While the Pan-Arabs all had one goal in mind, “emerge victorious or die a martyr’s death,” They appeared to be well funded and had top notch gear, tanks, armored vehicles, even an air force with Russian made fighter aircrafts or MiG’s. They had surface to air missiles, their own artillery, they targeted the US Navy and even sank a SPOILER. What they didn’t have however, is the skill the Marines, the Green Beret’s, and other allied forces involved possessed. While this war claimed many lives, there were many who will make it home because the enemy’s “aim was no straighter than his twisted beliefs.”
Think Mark Greaney and LtCol Rip Rawling’s Red Metal meets Osama Bin Laden. A powerful army with a psychopath Jihadist in control tearing through anything in their way. Utilizing any means of victory on the battle field. Even using women and children to attack ahead of the infantry to get the opposing force to expend their munitions and be caught off guard. This well researched novel shows what would happen if all of the so-called jihadist in the real world, the Taliban, Al-Qaida, ISIS, Hezbollah, The Quds force, to name just a few were to join forces and attack as one. On top of that, have state sponsors, such as Iraq, Iran, Libya, and Syria. The result would be millions of well-armed troops and that is exactly what the Mahdi or The Chosen One does. On top of that, Walt Gragg gives us multiple sub-plots, an overzealous reporter that falls in love and make some bad choices that get her in a serious jam. A Special Forces Green Beret that gets stranded and finds hope in the eyes of the enemy.
As I mentioned, Walt Gragg gives us a well-researched novel, using just about every weapon of war known to man. From basic infantry M4’s or junior Marines using M16’s, to bayonets when a clean quiet kill is necessary, to machine guns, tanks, Javelins – the portable anti-tank missile, the TOW missile – Tube launched, Optically-tracked, and Wire guided weapon system. To F18E and the F18F Super Hornet fighter jets. The USMC Super Cobra attack helicopter and the Osprey – multi-mission aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing while flying like a fixed wing aircraft. Being a former Marine myself, I appreciated the amount of research that went into this novel, and I liked this novel so much I wanted to ignore some minor mistakes I caught, something like “squeezing a trigger on the .50 caliber machine gun,” instead of depressing the butterfly trigger. What I could not ignore and have to mention in my review is his characters shooting wounded enemy combatants. This is against the Geneva Conventions, as troops we are trained to render aid to anyone on the battle field, allies and enemies alike once the threat has been neutralized. Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, The Chosen One has earned itself a Blast Radius of an Artillery Projectile.
Author: Walt Gragg
Release Date: November 19, 2019
Follow Walt on Twitter: @WaltGraggAuthor
Lima Charlie Rating: A BLAST RADIUS OF: AN ARTILLERY PROJECTILE (7/10) – 155 mm High Explosive Projectile fired from Medium Towed Howitzer fires a High Explosive round up to 30 klicks, with a blast radius of 50 meters and a casualty radius of 100 meters. What makes this weapon so great is its range and speed. Artillery crews can fire up to 5 rounds per minute, with each battery in the Marine Corps having six per gun line, that’s 30 rounds per minute down range. Its why they call it “steel rain.” And artillery men are called “King of Battle.”
About the Author
Walt Gragg is an attorney and former state prosecutor. Prior to law school, he spent a number of years in the military. He is a Vietnam veteran and has had many interesting assignments, including a tour with Special Forces (Green Berets). Of special significance, he served at the United States European Headquarters in Germany, where the idea for The Red Line took shape. Being privy to the actual American plan for the conduct of the defense of Germany and having participated in a number of war games while in Germany gave Gragg the knowledge and experience to lend authenticity to many of the novel’s events.