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The Blue Ants

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Digit, London, 1963
(price: 2/6; 160 pages)

The blurb on the back:

1970 ... the year of the war to end all wars, the dreaded clash between the two Red Giants, Russia and China.
When the rivalry of the two Powers comes to a sudden and dramatic head, the Russian leader is compelled to ask the Western Powers for aid against the new Yellow Peril, or else be annihilated by the savage hordes ...
'Political fact and military fantasy are ingeniously interwoven...' -
Birmingham Post
'Mr Newman translates possibilities into the terms of reality. His mastery of the art of suspense allied to his widespread knowledge and experience as a traveller and observer make this an exciting and fascinating story.' -
Nottingham Guardian Journal

opening lines:
I am not quite certain where my record should begin. My personal encounter - it was quite trivial - with the preliminaries of the Chinese-Russian conflict was in 1958. Then I lectured to an audience of Russian students in Moscow. They were friendly and very intelligent, but their ignorance of the West was abysmal.

You know that General Hackett book about the Third World War? Well, here's another one in the same sort of vein, only this time it's the Sino-Soviet conflict.

I'm not sure if there's even a name for this genre, so small is it. Perhaps it should be called Military Futurology.

Anyway, this is quite fun and - as ever with futurist stuff - tells you much more about the time when it was written than about the time in which it's set. So here we have the very real fear that China is a bit bloody scary. At least with the Soviet Union, we in the West knew where we stood, but them Chinese? Who knows what they might be after? Inscrutable blighter, Johnny Chinaman.

Beyond the yellow peril stuff, there is at the root of this fear the experience of the Second World War. In case there's still anyone under the spell of Western propaganda, here's a brief version of what actually happened in that conflict: the British Empire defeated Italy, the USA defeated Japan, and the real task of taking on and overcoming Nazi Germany was left pretty much entirely to the Soviet Union. Given that the German army was perhaps the most efficient armed force in history, whilst the Red Army was amongst the least efficient, there was only one way that Russia could compete: sheer weight of numbers. So the slaughter on the Soviet side was unbelievably vast (estimates are anything between 20 and 50 million), but victory was still achieved.

But if that worked with USSR vs Germany, what would happen if it was extrapolated to China vs USSR? And the conclusion here is that 'in a nuclear war China could sustain 200 million casualties, and still remain China. But if Russia had 200 million casualties, then there would be no Russia left.' (p.6)

Scary? Oh yes. Particularly if you posit the existence of a power-hungry war-lord operating in the shadows behind Mao Tse-Tung, pulling the strings not only of the Chinese Army but of the Great Leader himself.

Neat book. And nice that the Nottingham Guardian Journal appreciated it.


more on China...

The Hero