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God's Children

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It is from the biblical saying that Harold Coyle has take the title of his new novel, God's Children. Yet peacekeeping is not child's play. a tale of high-tech warfare set in the near future, God's Childrenis the story of the 3rd Platoon, c. Company, 2nd Battalion of the 13th infantry, and two young officers who attempt to keep a peace that is falling apart before their eyes.
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God's Children

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Overview

It is from the biblical saying that Harold Coyle has take the title of his new novel, God's Children. Yet peacekeeping is not child's play. a tale of high-tech warfare set in the near future, God's Childrenis the story of the 3rd Platoon, c. Company, 2nd Battalion of the 13th infantry, and two young officers who attempt to keep a peace that is falling apart before their eyes.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Harold Coyle is the best natural storyteller I know."—Tom Clancy

"Harold Coyle, rightfully acclaimed the Tim Clancy of ground warfare, has crafted not only a superb technothriller, but also a classic tale of men at war. God's Children is the best tale of a small unit of desperate men trapped behind enemy lines I've read in years."—W.E.B. Grifiin, author of the bestselling Brotherhood of War series

"Coyle is a master at high-tech suspense. He spins his story with such power that you're swept along to the climatic finish. God's Children is his best."—Clive Cussler, New York Times bestseller author

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312862961
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 2/12/2000
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

HAROLD COYLE was born and raised in New Jersey. A graduate of the Virginia Military Institute and a veteran, Coyle served for seventeen years in various assignments around the world, from platoon to field army level.

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Read an Excerpt

GOD'S CHILDREN


By Harold Coyle

Forge Books

Copyright © 2000 Harold Coyle
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-402-81370-8


Chapter One

NORTHEAST OF MODRANY LATE AFTERNOON, FEBRUARY 5

When Gerald Reider finally made his way back down to the ground floor, the scattered members of Sergeant Dubois's squad had come together in the kitchen. In the center of the room PFC Everett Cash was sitting at the table. His helmet lay upside down next to his left elbow. His right elbow was resting on the table. Between his hands he propped up a face that was tinged with subtle hues of gray and green. The expression that contorted Cash's face reminded Reider of one his roommate at West Point wore after one of his world-famous weekend drinking binges.

Immediately behind Cash was Specialist Smith. Like Cash, he had shed his helmet. Unlike his mess buddy, Smith was on his feet and moving about the kitchen, opening cabinets and pulling out drawers, searching for something while nibbling on a chunk of cheese that he held in his hand. Reider watched Smith for a moment, unsure whether he should reprimand the man for what he took to be the theft of food, or remain silent.

The sound of someone clearing his throat, off in a corner, caught Reider's attention and spared him having to make that particular decision. Turning toward the direction from which the noise had come, Reider saw the other members of the squad, Sergeant Dubois and Specialist Santiago. Between them stood 1st Lieutenant Dixon. Smith, who had heard Reider enter the room, was staring back at his platoon leader. Dubois and Nathan, speaking in hushed tones, paid Reider no heed. Guessing what was on Reider's mind, Santiago's face quickly lost the look of concern it had been wearing. It was replaced with a sheepish expression, like one a child sported when caught by a parent doing something wrong. In a hushed tone, which could have been meant either as an alert to Lieutenant Dixon or a greeting to Reider, Santiago gave a crisp "Lieutenant Reider."

Looking over at Reider, Nathan Dixon neither greeted his fellow officer nor even acknowledged his presence. Instead Dixon returned to the hushed conversation he had been holding with Dubois. The squad leader, for his part, found himself in an awkward position. At the mention of Reider's name, Dubois had tensed up, looking away from Dixon, over to Reider, and then back to Dixon. The tone of his voice, which also shifted, was what finally tipped Nathan off that the NCO had suddenly become very self-conscious and with drawn.

With as much finesse and diplomacy as he could, Nathan ended his discussion with Reider's subordinates. "Your people have been kind enough," Nathan stated innocently to Reider, "to update me on what they found while you were finishing upstairs. Unless you found another one after I left you, the body count seems to be fourteen. One in the garage, ten in the barn, two on the ground floor, and one up there." His eyes quickly glanced up at the ceiling as he uttered the words up there. "From what the sergeant and his men saw, there was no struggle, no resistance."

The speed with which Nathan spewed out this information didn't leave any time for Gerald Reider to build up his righteous indignation at what he took to be Nathan's interference with his platoon. Instead, Reider found that he had no choice now but to deal with the tactical situation and wait, perhaps until later, to reprimand his squad leader.

"Sergeant Dubois," Reider asked in an effort to assert his rightful authority and ease Dixon out of the picture. "Did your people find any weapons or military equipment?"

Santiago, seeing that his assistant squad leader was still unsure of what was going on between the two officers, answered instead. "No, sir. No weapons. But we did find some empty boxes, empty plastic bags, packing material, and freshly dug holes in the corner of the barnyard near the dung heap. My guess is that the Slovakian Army found this militia Kommando just as they were getting ready to go out and raise some hell."

While he was not sure how Santiago could be so certain that those odds and ends equaled proof positive that this had been an ethnic Hungarian Kommando, Reider took the man at his word. After all, neither Dixon nor Dubois, soldiers who had been doing this for some time, challenged his assertion. "Okay," the platoon leader sighed, not knowing what else to say. After a quick peek at his watch, Reider announced in a commanding voice, "We'd best get moving. We're running late and we still have a click to go to the linkup point."

Only Smith offered up a challenge. "Don't we have enough time to make some tea?" Surprised at this question, Gerald Reider looked over to Specialist Smith, who had continued rifling the cabinets while the officers had been engaged in a bout of psychological sparring. Having found what he had been looking for, the squad's SAW gunner was holding a tea bag, dangling by a thin string, in one hand and a bright red teapot in another. "It's for Cash, sir. He kind of lost it out back when we found the militiamen in the barn. The tea will help settle his stomach."

Incensed at being challenged like this over such a trivial matter, Reider drew in a deep breath. "A brisk pace in the cool afternoon air will do even more for him. Now gather up your gear and get moving. All of you." When he ended this order, Reider was staring right at Nathan with a look of disgust in his eyes. To him, the battalion staff officer now represented not only a threat to his authority, but had shown poor leadership by standing idly by while one of his men ransacked civilian property.

It wasn't until Cash tried to comply with the order and stand up that Gerald Reider realized that, perhaps, he had been a bit hasty. Pushing up off the tabletop with his hands, Cash started to move the chair he had been seated on away with the back of his legs and stand up. Instead, he went crashing back down into it when his knees buckled. Had Smith not jumped behind the chair and arrested its backward motion, Cash's dead weight would have shoved the chair out of the way, leaving him free to sprawl on the floor.

Seeing that Cash was safe, all eyes turned to Reider. Going from one man to the next, the platoon leader saw expressions that ranged from anger to restrained disgust. Only Nathan's Dixon's eyes said nothing, though deep down inside, the staff officer yearned to.

It took several minutes to form up the platoon before Gerald Reider nodded to Kittridge to lead off, down the trail. Now more than ever, Reider looked forward to seeing this day end. Looking down at the ground before him as he followed along, the young officer tried to ignore the aching leg muscles that had tightened up during their search of the farmhouse. Rather then dwelling on the exhaustion that was starting to become overwhelming, the physical discomfort he was now beginning to experience, and the images of death that were as new as they were horrific, Reider concentrated on sorting out what he would say when he reported in to his CO.

Reider pondered this as he struggled to lift one heavy, mud-covered foot up out of the muck and throw it forward. Was finding civilians butchered like that actually as routine as Dubois and his men made it appear? Was it really permissible simply to walk away from something like that without so much as covering the dead? It had to be, Reider told himself, otherwise Dixon would have said something. Why else would Dixon say nothing when he, Reider, had given the order to move out? Surely, Reider reasoned, Lieutenant Dixon would have intervened had it been necessary. That was, after all, why that officer was there, to make sure the new platoon leader didn't get into trouble. Of course, Reider reasoned, Dixon could be letting him screw up in an effort to embarrass him for the way he, Reider, had been treating Dixon. Even at West Point, Gerald Reider had seen classmates exact a cruel revenge on a fellow cadet by letting the unsuspecting soul mess all over himself in public without lifting a finger to prevent it.

No, no, Reider told himself as one of his leg muscles sent a wave of pain through him. West Point was different. This, he tried to convince himself, was the real world, the real Army. He firmly believed that officers didn't do that sort of thing. They were not only professionals, but they were officers and gentlemen, even if people like Dixon hadn't graduated from the Academy. Hadn't they all taken the same oath of office? Reider reasoned as the painful charley horse in his right leg finally began to subside. Weren't they all there in pursuit of the same goal?

Looking up, Reider scanned what he could see of the snow-covered countryside that they were traveling through. This certainly is one hell of a conversation to be having with oneself, he told himself, especially at a time like this. Embarrassed by these thoughts, as well as the numerous aches and pains that simply defied his efforts to ignore, Reider now began to wonder if things would, over time, get better. Would he ever manage to master the pettiness with which he had treated others he considered a threat to him, like Lieutenant Dixon? Would he be able to look at the corpse of a young child without feeling a thing like that staff officer had? And, even more important to Reider at that particular moment, would he be able to find the discipline and willpower that would allow him to ignore the physical discomforts that threatened to overwhelm him?

Trudging along in silence, the soldiers of 3rd Platoon made their way forward, toward the main road and the linkup point where, in less than half an hour, they were to marry up with their Bradleys and bring this patrol to an end.

The fact that the Bradleys were not in the field waiting for them when they arrived did not bother Nathan Dixon. Emerging from the last patch of woods they would have to navigate through that day, Nathan took a quick glance about looking for the terrain features he had been expecting to see. The trail they had been moving along since leaving the farmhouse ran straight down a gentle, concave slope. The point at which the trail intersected the road that the 3rd Platoon's Bradleys had been patrolling all afternoon was at the foot of that slope. Just ahead, twenty meters or so shy of that intersection he saw Gerald Reider standing in the center of the trail. The platoon leader was, as best as Nathan could determine, checking his GPS and map to make sure that he, and his platoon, were in the right place. The soldiers of the 2nd and 1st Squads were haphazardly deployed to either side of the trail between Reider and the paved road.

Stepping aside as the members of 3rd Squad filed past him, Dixon checked his watch, then reached for his canteen. It was light, which meant he had very little water left. Not that he would need much more. If he was still thirsty when the tracks arrived, he could always refill it from the five-gallon water cans each of them carried. And even if they were empty, which sometimes happened due to laxness or oversight, Nathan knew he could survive until they reached Fort Apache. Chris Donovan, no doubt, would be waiting there to buy him a soda at the small PX set up every night in the corner of the mess tent.

The thought of her brought a smile to Nathan's face. He'd have to be careful tonight, he told himself. If he played the role of the weary warrior, back from the long grueling foot patrol just right, she'd be putty in his hands. But if he overdid it, he'd be on her shit list for a week. Nathan recalled that his own mother had been like that. "Women," he mused. "They're either heaven or hell."

Tobias, who was the last man in the 3rd Squad, had just come up even with Nathan when he had mumbled that last bit about heaven and hell. An easygoing young soldier, Tobias smiled as he turned to face Nathan. "And sometimes, sir, they're a little of both."

With a broad grin, Nathan raised his canteen to toast Tobias. "I'll drink to that."

He was finishing up the last of his canteen when Nathan heard the faint squeak that a track makes as it's being pulled through the metal teeth of a drive sprocket. Slipping his canteen back into its pouch, Nathan decided to stand fast for the moment. He'd be out of the way where he was, of both Reider and the Bradleys as they left the road and deployed in the field. He hadn't been needed all day so far and was quite confident that he wouldn't be needed now that the patrol was but a few minutes from wrapping up.

Only slowly, as he stood there, thinking of Chris Donovan, did Nathan become aware of the fact that the engine noise making its way to where he stood wasn't quite right. Even before his conscious mind began working on this discrepancy, Nathan instinctively turned his head to the right, slightly, so that he could hear better. Though his library of memorized sounds identified the oncoming vehicle as a tank, his logical mind rebelled against that notion. There were no American tanks operating in this area, he told himself. The platoon he was with was the only U.S. unit that he knew of that was supposed to be there. And the Slovakian Army, as bold as it had been of late, the battalion staff officer told himself, wouldn't dare violate the NATO prohibition against deploying any of its tanks, even if the weather was grounding NATO aircraft.

It had to be the snow, the terrain, and perhaps even the surrounding woods that were distorting the roar of the 3rd Platoon's Bradleys, Nathan convinced himself. Had to be.

Still, as the noise grew louder, Nathan continued to look over, to his right, where the paved road disappeared behind a curve and another stand of trees. While the sound grew louder and more distinct, Nathan's apprehension in creased, so much so that he felt himself taking an involuntary step back, toward the tree line they had just emerged from. "You're being foolish," he started to mumble. "You're tired and being foolish."

That thought, as well as the last vestige of doubt, disappeared the instant he saw a long, oversized 125mm barrel poke around the corner and come into view. Instinctively, Nathan took another step backward and crouched. Farther down the slope the soldiers of the 3rd Platoon were reacting according to their particular experience and curiosity. While most remained in their positions, either prone or kneeling, a couple actually stood up, as if to greet what they thought was their ride home. Even when the protruding barrel grew in length and the front edge of the Slovakian T-72 tank came into view, these soldiers, including Gerald Reider, continued to stand and watch the foreign tank roll forward, toward them.

For his part, the tank commander of the T-72 paid Reider and his bewildered soldiers no heed. Snuggled tightly in the open hatch of his tank, like a cork in a bottle, the black-clad tanker craned his neck around the front opening hatch and peered down the road ahead. Only when the fast-moving tank came up to the point where the trail met the road it was traveling on did something cause the Slovakian tank commander to look over to his left.

Continues...


Excerpted from GOD'S CHILDREN by Harold Coyle Copyright © 2000 by Harold Coyle. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2003

    Highly Recommended

    Harold has done it again. Like a page torn from the headlines, Coyle brings modern warfare to his readers. Lt Nathan Dixon is the type of leader today's army is in desparate need. A leader who is not afraid to take charge when the need arises. Coyle manages to make Dixon to be both a fighting machine and a human. Battle description full of realism right down to where if the reader if is not sure where he is, he will be ducking for cover. Only problem with story was the abrupt ending. I I would have liked to have read Dixon's after action report on 3rd Platoon and 2dn Lt Reider. Other than that, great read looking forward to more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2001

    Outstanding Generational Sequal to his Great Earlier Novels

    Coyle is just the best. Not so long-winded at Clancy. Far more realistic plot than Cussler. Just as entertaining as either of the other two. In God's Children, Coyle weaves together a tale of the basic fighting unit of the United States Army. He shows war as it really is: Hell on Earth. He shows how the expectations of new commanders are often less that reality (Butter-Bar Syndrome). And he shows how any unit, given the proper motivation and leadership, can survive anything.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2001

    Great Storytelling

    I picked up this novel after I started to get into Tom Clancy. I'm now interested in reading more of Harold Coyle's novels. This is a great story of a soldier's life, makes you wonder what'f really goin on in the world.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2001

    A great novel about men and the cost of war.

    Harold Coyle has the uncanny ability to make you feel like you are on the lines and part of the story. His insight and honesty about the men and women of todays army is outstanding. This novel grips you and makes you read it to the end.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2000

    Coyle's 'children' is childsplay to read.

    Where do I begin? with Bright star? Team Yankee? or all the wonderful stories Harold Coyle has brought to us through his books. His Latest 'Gods Children' is just another fine example of why you would want to have this man telling stories to your grandchildren while they sit on his knee. Heroics,personal sacrifice,the pride of wearing your countries uniform would be wonderful things to listen to as you sit around a roaring fire...I can just imagine the joy his own children must feel when it comes to story time before bed. 'Gods Children' is a fast paced, moving story of present time military operations in Slovakia. The real danger of sending our military into 'peace keeping' operations without a clearly defined purpose and the individual efforts of each soldier involved. As usual the story is focused around the 'people' and not fantastic tales of unrealistic situations or how one man saves the world. Coyle truly captures the realities of war and its effect on those involved...I have everybook this man has written and you should too! If you love Tom Clancy..you'll love Harold coyle.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2000

    His Best since The Ten Thousand

    Great story. Puts you there with the grunts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2000

    This one of the best modern miltary books I ever read.

    One of the greats. It should be read by anyone who loves any kind of miltary novels.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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