Recommendations for reasonably plausible WWIII (and aftermath) TLs?

The one of Giobastia is a page turner but about as realistic as LOTR.

It is chock full of right wing stereotypes, propaganda and impossible feats done by the USA.

Spetznats teams all over Europe, left wing movements collaborating with the USSR….
I don’t recall much of that, though I only got up until around December. My impression of it was, like a lot of WW3 fiction, it doesn’t seem to fully comprehend Soviet doctrine and only pays initial lip service to “in war, things go wrong”... before promptly having everything go right for NATO after the first week. Let me see, my notes on the initial few months of the war...

Still quite early on this, but I'm curious about the supposed "untouchability" of the F-117. It would be difficult for the Soviets to intercept, but hardly impossible. The Serbs managed to get one, after all, and the only reason there weren't more is because the Serbs were grossly outclassed and had very limited air defense assets (just 22 SA-6 batteries defended the entire country, with only somewhat larger number of SA-3s) and NATO had total air supremacy over their small country. They couldn't afford to go toe to toe with the NATO air forces and had to wage what amounted to guerrilla aerial warfare. With NATO placing its highest priority on avoiding losses, this left them with few good opportunities. Otherwise, the techniques the Serbs used to track and down the stealth fighter were sound and could be repeated.

But here, NATO attacks on the Warsaw Pact would have no choice but to accept much higher risks in far less favorable situations (such as the stealth's not being able to operate under an unbroken friendly air umbrella) and against an opponent with much more advanced equipment. The sort of manual guidance, assisted by thermal images and laser rangefinders, utilized by the Pechora-M variant of the SA-3s was quite common amongst the more advanced systems in widespread service amongst the Soviet forces in even more sophisticated forms.

I'm also noticing a distinct lack of the Soviets making serious effort of maskirovka to protect their rear areas or fool the enemy as to the timing and location of their attacks. Use of decoys and camouflage to fool NATO into first bombing the wrong targets, and then tricking NATO BDA into thinking a target was destroyed was an extensive part of the Soviet playbook in the 80s, employed quite successfully by the Serbs in the 1990s, and it's curious that they aren't apparently making use of it. Similarly, I'm not seeing any use of decoys and camouflage to make NATO think their assault is coming at such-and-such part of the line when it's really coming at other-such place of the line. I'm also curious as to why Soviet army-level formations, upon achieving apparent breakthroughs on their level, wind-up then sitting around and waiting for the 2nd echelons instead of throwing out forward detachments (along with their own 2nd echelon: each army would have a division to complete the breakthrough and make any initial tactical exploitation in it's own echelon at it's own level) to keep the defenders off-balance and seize key objectives so as to facilitate the 2nd echelons own operational exploitation. Soviet doctrine was, after all, that if a unit had a clear line of advance into the enemies depths, it was too take it and not wait for someone else to take it.

The ability of NATO to continue significant CAS sorties into the second week large enough to noticeably impact the ground battle, despite apparently having undergone a situation in the first week which would suggest they suffer double-digit daily attrition rates, also stretches my credulity a bit, even if it is common for this genre. Really, the fact NATO Forces east of the Rhine survive that first week is nothing short of a miracle: the conditions of that set-up would historically suggest a wipe in WPs favor.


A Soviet military maxim was that the best flank protection for a deep penetration spearhead was ANOTHER deep penetration spearhead on either side of it. This way, if one spearhead was attacked or cut off the others could smash into the flank of the counterattacking enemy, or even just continue on and cut off the whole mess. In this situation, however, there is no need to breakthrough their lines: the enemy has put themselves between the two spearheads, one of which is already facing towards their flank. The logical move by Soviet doctrine would not only be to have the 2nd echelon merely block (only a single army from it would need to be diverted for that purpose against a NATO corps-sized attack), but rather most of the second-echelon forces would instead counter-attack the counter-attacking enemy force itself in the flank, attempting to cut it off and destroy it. The fact the British deploys to protect the 30th corps left flank raises the question as to why the 1st Unified Corps and 14th Army didn't pile into the corps open right flank (which they were well-positioned to do, to judge from the maps) while the 21st Army was directed to protect it, not only potentially bagging the 30th Corps but also taking those two British divisions from behind and destroying them.

EDIT2: The development and deployment of entirely new weapon systems is way too fast. I'm talking about the ABM mines: even at wartime acceleration, we're still talking about a process of months at the minimum for the first deployment, not weeks.


Much faster then that. The Soviets even in WW2 were accustomed to throwing heavy-weight pontoon bridges across rivers in a matter of hours. And the introduction of better technology in the post-war years only improved the rapidity with which they could do so.


What happened to those divisions organic anti-air components? The Soviets lavishly furnished their frontline forces with anti-aircraft assets precisely because those units would be the most exposed to CAS and least able to conduct the necessary maskirovka to defend against it when in contact with the enemy, and there's no way their operators would systematically mishandle such equipment like Arab forces did. Even in the open desert, gussying up operational tanks to blend in with terrain or look like they've already been knocked out while throwing up more visible decoys to attract NATO bombs instead is quite doable since these guys aren't advancing while in contact with any NATO ground assets, having bypassed them and all. In fact, such countermeasures would also help forestall an American attempt to redeploy against it by possibly allowing the involved forces to avoid being detected. Again, a total lack of the Soviets even attempting their maskirovka doctrine, which we have seen neither hide-nor-hair of since the war began.
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With all due modesty, I can recommend "Comedy of Terrors", which I wrote. It's a story rather than a TL, and - because it is professionally published - isn't available on this (or any other free) site. It can be found in The Return of King Arthur and Other Alternate Myths.

To summarise - it's based on true events (even the suicide squad of snowboarding snowmen) and is incredibly realistic in every detail.

Hmm, I must get this
Do you mind elaborating?
This book have such gems as Kuznetsov (an aircraft carrier) being deployed into Baltic sea to run air support for the invasion of Poland and Russian VDV division being airdropped on a random island in the straits of Hormuz (Persian Gulf) out of the blue with no Russian (or allied and even friendly, as the island was occupied by Iran) military presence anywhere close.
And it is just two examples. Basically every single military engagement in the book was the same degree of WTF.
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It's an actual movie and doesn't show the war itself let alone the aftermath - in fact, the movie states at the beginning this story is about how WWIII could start - but I'd recommend the Canadian TV film Countdown to Looking Glass, which shows the slide towards a US/Soviet confrontation in the Middle East through the eyes of a New York news channel.
‘Frozen’, but with radiation.
Do you want to build a glow in the dark snowman.....this could be our last chance to play... i won't see you anymore.. things won't be like before... while our bombs light up the sky!

We were getting on like buddies... laughing drinking signing agreements now we're not.
I wish you would tell me why.. do you wanna build a snowman.... it doesn't have to a snowman..
Go away Ronnie! Okay Gorbie .. Bye
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Do you mind elaborating?
It's been a while since I read it and honestly, re-reading it would be too painful, so my memory may be imperfect.

None of the politics, strategy or technology makes sense. The Chinese wipe out most of two US aircraft carrier groups and American political leadership continues to treat the conflict as something that could be resolved through negotiations; this after tens of thousands of presumed American casualties. The only way to overcome Chinese electronic warfare is to strip a F-18 to the bare metal and have it deliver a nuclear bomb. Somehow, in the process of developing weaponry advanced to utterly defeat the US Navy, the Chinese have forgotten basic things like SAMs and Radar, so the bare F-18 can just fly over China at will. A victorious Chinese admiral is executed for reasons that are not explained.

The Chinese attack on the US carrier groups is meant to scare off the US from intervening in the Chinese invasion of Taiwan. Basically, the Chinese want to avoid fighting the US over Taiwan and their way to accomplish this is to attack the US before invading Taiwan. Oh and remember all those super high tech Chinese weapons that have annihilated the US Navy? Well, it turns out India, unbeknownst to anyone has developed weapons that are even more advanced and dictates peace to China and the US. Somehow this development has gone unnoticed by either power. As well, by 2034 India has apparently solved most of its social problems; it's noted that Indian cities no longer have slums and look like US cities (it is acknowledged that the country side is not quite as advanced yet.) Obviously, I don't begrudge India social and economic progress, but it's strange to think so much can be accomplished in less than 20 years.

Oh, and after the US and China have exchanged nuclear strikes that have destroyed at least one city in each country (Maybe two in the US), the wife and daughter of the Chinese admiral who sank the US navy and was executed for reasons just up and freely move to the US and settle there.

Anyway, that's just what has gotten stuck in my mind.
Conventional WW3s that stay that way are kind of contrived by design. Like Axis victories or Sci fi technology, you just have to handwave some things.

I'd recommend Team Yankee by Harold Coyle and Red Army by Ralph Peters. They're apples and oranges but both good.
In the Protect and Survive-verse, Protect and Survive Miami: End of Watch is good, as is The Lucky Country and There Is No Depression (set in Australia and New Zealand)...

Agree about the @JamesG stories, as well...
He has good TLs except for how he portrays the intelligence communities (NKVD are ubermensch while the CIA need to wear helmets to not hurt themselves).
I was one of his critics, and I at first got too harsh on them. Now I'm more balanced (unfortunately, he left because he simply couldn't handle any reaction besides simple praise or a minor technical correction).

-Gets a lot of the absolute basics right. There's a lot of conventional WW3 stuff (both printed and TLs) that don't do this.
-Does try to cover "big war, big viewpoint" stories, which I know firsthand are basically the hardest to try and write.

-Did not seem to have much desire to push his boundaries. Made basically the same TL in the same setting with minor differences constantly. When there were changes, it was just exaggerated versions of the same thing (Soviet invasion of the continental US, East Germany surviving, arguably the worst WP nation equipped to do so...). This of course meant that criticism was inevitable, which-see above...
-Adheres massively to the formula of Hackett/Bond. I mean massively. As in, after reading the orginals it's easy to tell it's just a double-xeroxed fanfiction copy. They're basically the World War III equivalent of a Pokemon trainer fic where they start in Pallet Town and get a Squirtle and retrieve the parcel....
-Like you said, had to pull in contrivances like the drooling western intelligence agencies. (At their worst, they missed basically entirely a giant Soviet army in Mexico because lol-Ted Kennedy).
-Just seemed to use Cold War era sources and not later, more accurate ones.
-Like you said, had to pull in contrivances like the drooling western intelligence agencies. (At their worst, they missed basically entirely a giant Soviet army in Mexico because lol-Ted Kennedy).
For that there was the scenario that more or less forced that, as it was his take of Red Dawn and tried to make it as realistic as possible but everyone know that was very difficult