The Smallest War
by Mark Sheehan

"It’s so typical of war. Big or small, it’s all the same. Wars start with speed and movement, but they end in attrition."

The United States and Russia are at loggerheads. An unresolved issue from a historic treaty dating back to 1867 has led to modern-day problems. A disputed area near the Bering Sea has the potential to yield vast riches in oil exploration, and both countries have ownership claims. When the two countries were embroiled in the zero-sum game of the Cold War days, an innovation of warfare was dreamed up: a small war where the hostilities were scaled down to teams of worthy competitors engaging in a take-all battle of skill and will. The three candidates chosen for the American side are a study in contrasts: Danny, a punch-drunk brawler; Matt, a bravado-possessing athlete; and Kimmiela, a spirited rebel from the reservations. However, this eclectic group may be the key to preventing World War III.

The author’s novel is a unique fictional take on Cold War 2.0 and a nuanced way of engaging the enemy. This engrossing story begins with the foreshadowing of the hostilities to come, a sticking point in a significant treaty, and land acquisition between the once allied United States and Russia. The action progresses as the seemingly forgotten area around Alaska becomes a flashpoint, and the Russians appear intent on lighting the match. Author Sheehan excels in teasing out the slow-burn intensity of the drama with each ensuing chapter. The current bad blood between the United States and Russia provides a credible parallel to the story’s plot and how innovation can and has changed the practice of war. The trio of Danny, Matt, and Kimmiela are the emotional backbone of this drama, worthy of following and rooting for to the end.

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