Welcome to Cold War Gamer, a blog I am using to record my Cold War wargaming projects. These range from fictitious Cold War hot projects to historical conflicts that took place around the globe throughout the Cold War era, all modelled and gamed in 20mm. The blog includes links to various resources useful to the Cold War Gamer.

My current projects include: Central Front; British & Soviet. South African Border War; Angolans and South Africans. Soviet Afghan War; Soviets and Afghans

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Review - Books, The Third World War, General J Hackett

The Third World War, written in 1977 by General Sir John Hackett following his command of NORTHAG.  The book is set in 1985 and illustrates the need to strengthen NATOs defence and what might happen in a future conflict if that were achieved. The book provides a high level scenario around which to build many an engaging game, it provides the reader with an understanding of the broad scheme of manouver and the impact of critical systems on the battle. 

The book opens with an engagement between 11 Armoured Cavelry and lead Soviet elements and covers off a number of small scale air and ground actions before detailing the build up to war through activities in a number of surrogate states across Africa and the middle East coupled with rising tensions within the Warsaw pact and Soviet Bloc. The pace picks up as US and Soviet forces clash in Yugoslavia, and Soviet special forces strike against NATO command and control centres. 

General Hackett then articulates expected developments in the two forces between 1985 and 1977 before taking us into the conflict on the central front.  The broad NATO plan and the outline doctrine of forward defence and covering force battles by NATO are introduced through the unfolding conflict before the story cuts across the Naval and Air battles and the influence they have on the land campaign. The final chapters examine the impact of the arrival of French and continental US reinforcements just before the whole thing goes Nuclear.  

A great introduction to what might have happened authoritavly written by an unquestioned expert on this subject and supported by a respectable cast of senior officers from across NATO.

The Third World War: A Future History @Amazon

Other Book Reviews

Soviet Air Land Battle Tactics
The Military Balance
Encyclopaedia of the Modern British Army
The Soviet Conduct of Tactical Manoeuvre
First Clash
The British Army in Germany

The Cold War Bookstore contains links to over 60 Cold War titles covered in my book list


  1. I remember reading this book back in the late 1970s, along with a subsequent companion book by the Gen. Hackett. But for a condign critique, check out James Avery Joyce "The War Machine: The Case Against the Arms Race" (London 1980).

    Leaving his arguments for the moment, I began to have doubts when I read somewhere (Avery Joyce confirmed this) that Hackett's original ending had NATO being overwhelmed. Apparently this didn't suit the powers that be, hence the NATO success (well, they stop the Russians). Seemed to me that the argument to beef up NATO's military was undermined right there.

    According to a US Deputy Secy of Defence at the time (Morton Halperin), "The NATO doctrine is to fight with conventional arms until we are losing, then to fight with nuclear tacticals ubtil we are losing, and then to blow up the world."

    At any rate, just for the sake of 'balance', I do recommend Avery Joyce's book.

  2. Splendid book - I re-read my copy (and the sequel) at least once a decade!

  3. I've got another version, The Untold Stories of the Third World war by the same author. Not sure if this is an updated version of the original or a standalone book.

    1. He wrote two books this and the untold story the first deals with the war in Europe the second, dealt with elements of the story not covered in the first - IMHO both good books