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by General Richard Shirreff

General Richard Shirreff’s 2017 War with Russia (Coronet £20) has been widely acclaimed by the media as a book that acts as a wake-up call for complacent Western political leaders, who have failed to react to the threat posed by a resurgent Russia.  It does indeed convey a serious message about the much diminished conventional capabilities of the United States’ NATO allies, including the United Kingdom, and their failure to appreciate the danger that President Putin and his power elite present to our very way of life.  These undeniably important points are made with great clarity in the opening chapters. 

The remainder of the book is an adventure story, describing how Russia might choose to invade the Baltic states in 2017 and how the Western allies could use their arsenal of conventional and unconventional forces to counter and defeat this invasion. 

The heroes of the tale are the members of a British infantry training team and a glamorous Latvian special agent, who, working with Latvian and Lithuanian special forces, take on a highly dangerous mission in Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave, while being hunted by a wily Russian spetsnaz (SAS-equivalent) officer.  The story also includes a steely-eyed female US president and a host of other senior political and military leaders. 

The author describes much of the military equipment in exhaustive detail, but there are none of the illustrations that might bring these technical descriptions to life.  The sole map, giving an overview of the Baltic states, is monochrome and very difficult to decipher. 

Shirreff has undoubtedly been successful in highlighting some of the chinks in our collective armour and it is to be hoped that his message will encourage our leaders to re-assess and revive our military defences.

Peter Williams

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