July 18, 1994 12:00 PM

by Frederick Forsyth

You may think you never want to hear another word about the Gulf War, but this gripping fictional “inside story” from the creator of The Day of the Jackal combines derring-do entertainment with a political message. Forsyth apparently believes the U.S. and its allies were very lucky not to face biological, chemical or nuclear warfare, and he blames them for greed in letting a tin-pot dictator buy access to the technology of mass destruction. He implies that not even the massive, costly war to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait taught governments and global arms merchants that lesson.

There are passages when Forsyth shows off about the history of spying or whizbang technology. But mostly this is propulsive narrative. Forsyth’s lone ranger is British major Mike Martin of the Special Air Service, dark enough and fluent enough in Arabic to infiltrate occupied Kuwait and then wartime Iraq. The author doesn’t squander a lot of time on Hollywood-style romance; nobody loves Martin but the reader. This is a boy book. Action and danger are the kicks. (Bantam, $23.95)

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