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Countdown: H Hour (Countdown 3) [Mass Market Paperback]

Tom Kratman
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

13 Aug 2012 Countdown 3
Welcome to the Philippines outback. It's a true garden spot, if you happen to like drug running, bush-bound revolutionary movements, Balkanized tribal warfare, illegal weapons trading, and kidnapping for fun and profit. It's hostage rescue time once again for Terry Welch's special operations company. But this is turning out to be one of those missions. No clue as to the hostage's whereabouts. An employer who is completely untrustworthy. An indigenous social structure coming apart at the seams. And it's topped off by Welch and his crew having to endure a rifle company of hated competitors supposedly sent along for reinforcement. But, Welch knows there's only one solution: do whatever it takes. Use whatever means necessary to complete the mission. And if those means include force, guile, sneak attacks, and a small dose of heightened interrogation techniques for scumball terrorist enablers (okay, maybe a somewhat larger dose), then so be it. This is H Hour. And the fight is on! H Hour is the third volume in Tom Kratman's the breakthrough Countdown modern-day military adventure series!

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Countdown: H Hour (Countdown 3) + Countdown: M Day
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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Baen Books; First Printing edition (13 Aug 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451637934
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451637939
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 10.3 x 16.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 923,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Countdown "H Hour" 23 Jan 2013
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
TK really rocks! One of the best yarns I have had the pleasure of reading and enjoying. Look forward to his next outing (which I hope will be avaiable ASAP).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.9 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Fun and Excellent Reading From Col. Kratman 23 Aug 2012
By Aaron Brett Kendal - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
The third in the Countdown series, Countdown: H Hour is an excellent read that's hard to put down.

Set in the disutopian not-too-distant-future, it continues the story of the Regiment begun in the first Countdown book.

Instead of regimental level battles and strategy, the focus of the book is on a small unit and then a composite combined arms team level force of about battalion strength. The action takes place simultaneously as that in the second book, Countdown: M Day, with interesting consequences.

As usual for Col. Kratman, the military organization and action scenes are tightly narrated and highly believable, with lots of things that go boom. He has no hesitation killing off characters, even very likable characters, should the plot demand. He also has no difficulty having the antagonists think and act in realistic ways that cause real trouble for his protagonists, and things never go quite as planned.

Self-depreciating and self-referential at times, Col. Kratman brings in the occasional references to himself as a "hack science fiction author", and his prior mil/sci-fi book, A Desert Called Peace features in quite an interesting way.

Col. Kratman has a solid knowledge of history, military operations, and current world affairs, along with very little tolerance for today's empty-headed "tranzis" - progressive transnationals, and it shows throughout the book.

As always it is the little details he throws in are what make the book a joy to read:

For example, just as an aside, we learn in dialogue that a certain tranzi finds her theory of human relations doesn't match reality and is killed in the Greater Chicago Ipad-9 riots. Think about it, a fuzzy minded intellectual dying in the Greater Chicago Ipad-9 riots.....

Not to mention the appearance of the Emperor Mongo, and characters with quips and actions that suit the moment very well, as well as the handiness of having a functional sociopath on hand.

Col. Kratman, as usual, ends with an afterword that almost makes you wish he had a regular column somewhere - He combines erudite political analysis and opinion that certainly makes you think.

Oh, and anti-Americans should remember this cautionary notice from the book:

"Americans. We will cross a frozen river to kill you. In your sleep. On Christmas."

Yeah, it is that kind of book.

In short, Countdown: H Hour is a definite recommended read and a worthy continuation of the Countdown series. Expect lots of quality dialogue, interesting situations and lots of shooty and stuff-that-go-boom goodness. Be sure to read the preceding books first to gain the highest enjoyment from the tale.

Luckily for us readers, the last few pages leave open the probability that another book in the series will come out, and that there will be more of the well-thought out scenarios we've come to enjoy from the series.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Book that Peeks Behind the "Military Curtain" 20 Aug 2012
By Tracy Warrrington - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Tom Kratman does an outstanding job of not only accurately depicting real combat and chaos of same; but is the first person in recent memory that shows the logistics (supply, maintenance, transport and planning) and "behind the scenes" efforts needed to make combat troops do better than the enemy expected. Any veteran will appreciate the maxims and opinions bandied amongst the mercenaries, the 'customer' and those who create the mess the mercs have to clean up after.

Not to be outdone, then mercenaries themselves have internal issues that blow up and threaten The Mission. There are always divas, sociopaths and other random 'noise' that any armed organization has to deal with; and Kratman's book forthrightly deals with the issues and gives believable solutions. I won't go as far as to say that reading this book will give you an insight into solving violent problems, but it will make you think a little.

The world Kratman created is very realistic and contemporary. It's not a friendly place outside of our borders; and we're not considered the 'saviors' our liberal apologists seem to think. Sounds inflammatory? Well, yes, it is. ;-)

I'm an avid sci-fiction reader, so I come to expect a few "Deus Ex Machina" sprinkled throughout the plot. Not so much here. The characters have to anticipate and work out the problems, or suffer the consequences. Occasionally the author throws them a bone, but not so you'd notice.

In summary, I strongly recommend Tom Kratman's book. The plot and sub-plots are clean, the characters believable, and the action fresh and crisp. Extra crispy in some places...
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kratman again sets the standard for military fiction 3 Sep 2012
By Steve Griffin - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback
In _Countdown: H Hour_LTC (Ret) Tom Kratman again sets the standard for military fiction. The third volume in his Countdown series continues the adventures of the private military organization formally known as M Day, Inc., or simply "The Regiment". I won't provide a scene-by-scene synopsis of the novel, as you can, and should, read it yourself, but the overall plot covers a hostage rescue mission undertaken by selected elements of the M Day, something that happens more-or-less concurrently with the rest of the regiment being preoccupied with the events described in the previous volume, _Countdown: M Day_.

Along the way there is no shortage of action from the Philippines, to Horn of Africa, and back again, to include two amphibious assaults, three (if I counted correctly) hostage rescue missions, and various other well-orchestrated bits of mayhem. And it is that orchestration, by conductor Kratman, that sets his Countdown series apart from the competition. Way too many writers of military fiction simply don't "get it". Tom Kratman does, as anyone who has actually been Troops-In-Contact can tell from reading his action sequences. Details matter to him, to include the detail that even the best units are subject to Private Murphy at times, and luck is what happens when training meets opportunity. Or doesn't, as the case may be.

To that end the good guys don't always win, and when they do it comes with a price, to include characters that any other author would be afraid to harm after placing so much effort in creating and nurturing them over multiple pages. There are rarely any two dimensional, Spear Carrier Third Class characters in his books, to include this one, and he is equally ruthless with good guys, bad guys, and those men and women in between. And he is surprisingly generous at times as well. His ability to keep the reader guessing "what will happen to who?" is a sign of his craftsmanship as an author.

As for the military professional reading this book, or honestly any of series, you may not realize it but you effectively got a 50% discount. This is because Tom Kratman generously provides you two books in one, neat package. On the surface there is a military adventure yarn done as well, or better, than any other writer in the genre. But inside are numerous, well thought out lessons on military organization, history equipment, weapons, plus useful tactics, techniques, and procedures. And like any great teacher Kratman sugarcoats the lesson. You can simultaneously be entertained by the tribulations of a private military firm having labor disputes, or have a flashback to when your local, contracted security in Afghanistan went on a wildcat strike.

It may not ever be a class at the Command and General Staff College, but I'll assert the lessons hidden within hit home more than any dry class on "Sustainment", "Military Contracting", or "Force Regeneration", and they are all the more valuable for that impact. Throw in a well-researched essay on philosophy at the end and you have quite a bargain. This in a crackling good tale that references BOTH Bujold and Heinlein, so exactly what more does either a military fiction fan, or even a science fiction fan, want? Free beer?

One administrative note: As mentioned this is the third book in the series. You can read it from a cold start, and will still be greatly entertained, but knowing the background helps. And really, after reading one book, you'll want the first two volumes anyways, so order the set. Be warned, Kratman writes both military and science fiction, sometimes overlapping, so if you go "old school" like this reviewer you may have to look in Sci-Fi, Military, or even General Fiction to find this book at the bookstore. But it's definitely worth the effort.

And a final comment in closing: About the only thing I'd suggest adding to the next Countdown book is either a Table of Organization or a Dramatis Personae, or both. In most books that tends to be a bit pretentious, but given the large cast of characters and the various types of companies, battalions, and auxiliary squadrons that make up M Day, Inc. it could help even us die-hard fans keep track of who's who. That being said _Countdown: H Hour_ is an excellent read, worth every hard earned penny it costs and then some, and I am again eagerly looking forward to the further adventures of the Regiment.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gets better and better... 10 Aug 2012
By Rodger Raubach - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I received my copy just yesterday afternoon, and only put it down last night when I couldn't see the pages any more. It's a terrific tale and has plenty of gratuitous violence and bloodshed.

The story line was alluded to in the previous novel, and is on a parallel time line with M Day. Colonel Wes Stauer is entirely absent this volume, and Terry Welch is the mission commander. For almost the entire novel, the action takes place in the Phillipines with the moslem Moro's as the "bad guys." There is a second line of action in Manila, which I really don't want to spoil by giving too much detail in a review.

As usual, the Regiment prevails, but there are some severe losses. It's an entirely believable scenario, and given the author's background, the correct outcome.

Five stars, as usual. I had only a couple small quibbles not worth mentioning here.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great read from this author 20 Sep 2012
By Robert A. Hall - Published on
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Since I usually recommend non-fiction history, political and economic books, I was going to skip reviewing this novel. First, I'm a little annoyed with Kratman, in that he doesn't seem to be able to write these things as fast as I can read them. He was an officer, after all, and I expect a little more attention to my edification. Second, I reviewed the first two books in this series, so I'm running out of superlatives. If you read both of those, chances are you will read this one without my recommendation. And while it can stand alone, I recommend you read the series in order. But Kratman does such an entertaining job of describing realistic military violence, and has such a frightening, reality-based world view of how civilization is collapsing as we watch, that I had to put in another plug. In his "Afterword" (which covers ground he talked about in his science fiction novels, but should be read by every American) he says he is asked if he expects things will really get as bad as depicted in these action novels of the near future. His response is that he expects things to get much worse--that the books only depict the early stages of what is happening to our world. I wish I didn't think he was right. As with his other novels, there are some running gags, one-liners and historical and literary quotes that make the book an especially great value.

Robert A. Hall
Massachusetts Senate, 1973-83
Author: The Coming Collapse of the American Republic
All royalties go to help wounded veterans
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