Coonts, I believe, is wrong in saying there have been three American wars that have been the “defining experience of their generation. World War II, World War I, and the American Civil War.” He calls Vietnam horrific, but not one of the above, and he should have. Be that as it may, this book is dedicated to the veterans of World War II, their declining numbers and the fading of their memories. Only in fiction now, Coonts claims, can it be described what it was like to survive that war, or “die in the crucible.”
The ten short novels in Victory are well chosen to prove his point. They consist of in-depth snapshots of WWII, both in Europe and in the Pacific theater. The authors include a veritable “Who’s Who” of the best writers of military and techno-thriller fiction today. Every reader of the book will get his money’s worth in full.
Among the best in this huge volume are Coonts’s own story, a pulp-flavored tale of the air war against the Japanese, complete with the sights and smells of being there in person; Harold Robbins’s more than slightly bawdy tale of a Jewish soldier’s daring impersonation of an OSS officer in an attempt on Der Führer’s life; and Ralph Peters’s saga of a German officer’s desperate trek back to his wife’s side after the end of the war, his mind flooded with memories, kept alive by delusions of honor.
There’s not room here to mention all of the entries. Suffice it to say that they all succeed when their stories focus on the characters; less successful when they concentrate on the technical aspects of warfare. While death is ever-present in these tales, the authors are proficient in finding just the right words to describe courage and bravery as well.